Ron Craft, general manager of New-Tex Gin in Plains, Texas is the 2019 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year. Smith has served in many U.S. cotton industry leadership capacities and provided many years of dedicated service.
The annual National Cotton Ginners Association’s (NCGA) award is presented to a ginner in recognition of: 1) able, efficient and faithful service to the ginning industry and 2) continuing those principles exemplified and practiced by Horace Hayden, a former NCGA executive secretary.
Craft, a 5th-generation ginner who received the award at NCGA’s recent 2020 annual meeting in New Orleans, was a member of National Cotton Council’s (NCC) 1991 leadership class. He served as the NCC’s chairman in 2018, the NCGA’s president in 2016, and there are very few committees within the NCGA and NCC on which he has not served.
He also is a former president of the Plains Cotton Ginners Association, Texas Cotton Ginners Association and Texas Independent Ginners Association. He has served as a Plains Cotton Growers director and currently serves as a Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation director.
Craft also participates in community activities and is treasurer of First Baptist Church in Plains. He earned the rank of sergeant as a reserve deputy with the Yoakum County Sheriff’s Department and has served in the department for the past 35 years. He is a past president of the Plains Chamber of Commerce.
The NCGA also recognized Tim Loonam as recipient of the NCGA’s 2019-20 Charles C. Owen Distinguished Service Award. For the past 30 years, the award has honored those who have provided a career of distinguished service to the U.S. ginning industry.
A Texas native and Navy veteran, Loonam earned a bachelor’s degree in Management from Texas A&M University in 1972. Since 1990, has Loonam has specialized in providing workers compensation insurance and loss control services for ag-related businesses.
Since 1996, he has worked tirelessly on administration, claims and loss control for Texas cotton gins and other agricultural operations as administrator of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association’s Trust. Over that time, the Trust has grown their annual revenue premium from $4 million to just over $13 million and has expanded their coverage to include other agricultural operations. The Trust began with about 50 cotton gins and now has well over 150 Texas gins.
Loonam has long been an active member of the Safety Specialist Forum and makes it a point for his loss control team to participate and contribute to the Forum. He and his team also are active in the NCGA ginner schools each year.
During its annual meeting, the NCGA elected its 2020 officers: president – Curtis Stewart, Spade, Texas; first vice president – George LaCour, Jr., Morganza, La.; second vice president – Gene Seale, Pima, Ariz.; third vice president – Richard Lindsey, Centre, Ala.; and chairman – Wes Morgan, New London, North Carolina. Harrison Ashley of Cordova, Tenn., serves as NCGA’s executive vice president.