Throughout the years, I’ve worked with many customers and consider them like family. When I started the business in 1992, Jerry and I drove around letting ag operations know about our software. We also went to southern state and national conventions. Advertising in the AgAir Update also helped get the word out.
I’ve seen many companies come and go, but it seems lately that I’ve had many of the companies I started out with decide to retire and “pass the torch” to upcoming operators. I am going to focus on three of them.
Paul and Glenda Gould with Agratech, Inc. in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma have been with us since 2002, about a year after they opened. I called Glenda and she was working on the year end and closing out the books. I have found out through the years that many ag operators are multi-taskers and Paul was no exception. His degree was in “entomology” (the study of insects) and it eventually helped him out in his ag business. His father had a spray business in Western Oklahoma so spraying runs in the family. When a local man in Webbers Falls was retiring, Paul bought the business out. He also owned “Pivot Parts” since there were so many pivots in the area as well as a company called “Aerial Services” which contracted work for auditing high lines. Glenda worked for twenty years at the phone company and eventually joined Paul to help him. She said “When I was younger I was a loader, drove trucks and picked up jugs”. I think everyone in the industry was saddened when Paul was killed in an ag plane accident on July 10, 2020. Glenda is planning on retiring. I told her that I was planning on calling her and catching up with her in her life. (I hope she travels once this covid is over.)
Jim and Pam Hess with Hamlin Flying in Hamlin, Arkansas are right around the corner from me so I could always run by and talk to Pam and show her new updates, etc. Pam sent me a few words about their life in the ag aviation business.
“Jim’s father James H. Hess Sr. started Hamlin Flying Service in 1966. We bought him out in 1998 and a few years later James decided it was time for him to retire. After doing our books old school for three decades we decided to step up to modern technology and purchased Chem-man legacy program in 1995. I will admit when Chem-Man took another step up and went digitally online I drug my feet for a couple years. I should not have hesitated. Now it’s again time for a step up, or down might be the better word, as Jim and I have decided to retire. Jim’s looking forward to staying more frequently at deer camp and I am looking forward to expanding on my crafting. We have a great pilot that has been with us since 2009 that will be taking over and still giving great service to our customers.”
Stan and Donna Wojcik with Ag-Air Inc. in Knox City, Texas have been with us since 1995. Stan actually flew in the navy as a young man and started a spray business with a rented plane and a handful of customers. They did a lot of work with ag planes and helicopters especially with the boll weevil work. He laughed and told me a story when he was a young operator at a convention. They were looking at the “old timers” and said, “That’s what I am now!” He mentioned that he loved the freedom of the industry and being able to think out of the box. He also serves at the county judge and will continue to do this after retirement. Donna came along to help in 1989. She has always been fun to work with on the billing side of things and they are one of the first of the ag operations that started going to the New Mexico convention which is so much fun!
Sometimes I get asked “When do you plan on retiring?” I love my work and the people I work with. My dad retired in his mid-eighties and I turn 60 next month so I’ve got a few more years to go. I’m definitely going to miss my long-time friends but I’m also looking forward to helping out the young ones coming on. Happy retirement y’all!