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Not so Mainstream, Mainstream Boutique

Empower. Strengthen. Celebrate. These are the powerful words that drew in Kate and her husband, as they began on a new uncharted journey.

Kate Mitchell, a Texas Tech alum, graduated with a bachelor’s in agriculture communications and a master’s in retail & hospitality institutional management. Kate and her husband Michael have two beautiful daughters: 3-year-old Blakely Grace and 12-month-old Elise Faith.

“We just did what we had to do.”

Kate Mitchell

With Michael living in Lubbock almost all of his life, and Kate returning to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech, making the decision to open a business in hub city was an obvious one for these Lubbock locals.

Operating West Texas Lace, LLC, dba Mainstream Boutique, as a locally-owned franchise has allowed the Mitchells to run their business how they see fit while still operating under a proven business model and earning multiple high rankings. Mainstream Boutique is ranked #86 nationally and is #7 in Texas.

The same month the Mitchell’s decided to dive into the entrepreneur experience and had signed all the papers, Kate found out she was pregnant with her second daughter Elise. Although it was an exciting surprise, it created another challenging obstacle to get their business up and off the ground. Kate and her mother Carolyn took on the journey of traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for training when Elise was just 3 months old. The trio spent a week there while Kate attended training seminars during the day, pumped on lunch and coffee breaks, then returned to the hotel at night to join her mother and newborn. It was a lot but having the support of her mother made the educational trip doable and an experience they’ll all remember for a lifetime.

Blakely loves the store as much as her momma.

“By the time Elise was 4 months old she had already flown across the country on 6 different flights. I’ve never felt more angry stares while boarding planes but overall people were nice and accommodating to us. We just did what we had to do,” Kate explained.

Once training was complete, it was time to start the storefront renovations back in Lubbock. Being that Mainstream offers a business model as opposed to a traditional cookie-cutter franchise, Michael and Kate were able to make many of the design choices themselves. Part of that customization process included finding a dream team. Kate chose to post the positions of part-time stylists on Indeed.com, then sorted through the applications, and started hosting interviews. Being that Elise was still too young to join big sister Blakely in their daycare academy, Kate often had to interview the applicants with a baby on her hip. It even turned out that three of the four girls she selected were also pursuing a degree in agriculture communications at Texas Tech University.

The next step in the process was to place orders on materials. Clothing, office supplies, interior/exterior signage, furniture, mannequins, technology equipment, etc. were all part of the supplies list that needed to be paid for and shipped. Once the dozens of boxes began to arrive at the store, then came the endless task of unboxing, steaming, hanging, sizing and tagging. The girls all quickly learned that when matching tags to the clothes, it is best to open the boxes one at a time as opposed to all at once.

“It’s a learning process for all of us!” Kate said.

Attention to detail is very important in the retail business and Kate is hard at work everyday assembling the perfect outfit.

The first couple of days Mainstream was open there was extreme icy weather which had reduced the store’s foot traffic dramatically. After the boutique had quite literally weathered the storm, the number of customers coming into the doors increased phenomenally. Much of that pedestrian success is due to the location in the Hub Shopping Center. The outdoor shopping strip is in a retail center that shares co-tenancy with other like-minded businesses, such as Odds & Ends, Hot Worx, CycleBar, Kadiza Hair Salon, The Lash Lounge, Tea2Go and many more.

In addition to Mainstream’s idyllic location, another essential business resource is the shop’s online presence. The Mainstream’s social media has rapidly grown bigger and bigger since the day that it was created. Setting a goal to reach 1,000 Facebook followers by their first year open, the Lubbock location was able to reach that goal within their first 2 months. In a world where online shopping is extremely popular, a big following and professional online presence is very important. There is a direct link in social media to how a business is able to promote and brings in potential customers.

During this time of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, the online presence has forcibly shifted to Mainstream’s only source of profit. Being that this hit before the shop had been open less than 7 weeks, it was clearly not what Kate and her team had in mind for the store. Michael and Kate are hopeful and positive that business will resume as normal and even possibly boom after this mandated time of closure passes.

Between a new baby, freezing temperatures, and an unforeseeable medical state of emergency, there have been many bumps in the road, to say the least. Kate is a very strong woman who is pursuing her dream. Despite the hard times and difficult situations, the Mitchell family has decided to once again pull-up their bootstraps and muster through the storm. Given their upbeat demeanor and support of the West Texas community, it is likely the business will survive and thrive in the upcoming months ahead.

Kate and her husband Michael, hopeful business will return to normal after this worldwide pandemic is over.

Filling Glasses With Texas Wine & Festivities

Llano 2019 Port
Named as Texas' largest premium winery, Llano Estacado continues to impress customers with palate-cleansing flavors and community kindness.

Lubbock, Texas, stands on high grounds with agriculture, the Red Raiders, mass dust storms, and the word ‘community.’ Some would call it southern hospitality; Lubbock residents call it family. As new visitors roam this small west Texas town, they will interact with possible glimpses of tailgates, good food, tourist hotspots, and at least one of Lubbock’s Texas wineries. Before May 2009, the city of Lubbock was considered a ‘dry’ city. This law demanded all city limits are restricted from buying or selling alcohol outside of restaurants or bars. Lubbock residents made their way to Slaton, Texas, to come upon a liquor store named ‘Pinkies’ and Texas’ largest premium winery, Llano Estacado.

Llano Estacado Winery

Llano Estacado Winery opened in 1976 with help from two Texas Tech University professors, Dr. Bob Reed and Dr. Doc McPherson. McPherson was a chemistry teacher and Reed taught horticulture. After some initial success conducting an experimental winery in the basement of the Texas Tech chemistry building, the two started a limited partnership and opened Llano Estacado.

Brave Texans didn’t die at the Battle of the Alamo to drink California wine.

Erin Baker, tasting room assistant manager at Llano Estacado, ensures the winery keeps its title as Texas’ largest premium winery.

“We compete in many international and U.S. competitions every year, and we do very well,” Baker excitedly said of Llano’s success. One wine, Viviano, is ranked as the winery’s most award-winning. “It has won many awards,” Baker said, “but recently at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as Texas’ Best Wine.” Llano’s obvious success is making them a higher competitor for other wineries in Texas. Baker shares a quote that is well-known at the winery, “Brave Texans didn’t die at the Battle of the Alamo to drink California wine.” 

Leslie Sukin, tasting room manager at Llano Estacado, shares another customer favorite wine, the Chairman’s Reserve Port. 

“Our Chairman’s Reserve Port is another customer favorite,” Sukin said. “It’s neat to see how fast the bottles sell once the new vintage is released, which we only release this port every two years.” Llano Estacado’s Reserve port sells quickly due to the amount of years the wine ages before being blended. “The popularity of the wine,” Sukin said, “puts customers all over the country on a waitlist eager to buy the next available bottle.”

Not only does this Texas winery produce palate-fulfilling wine; Llano Estacado is also known for their large events venue and vineyard area. “We mostly host weddings, rehearsal dinners, graduation parties, or any other larger events maxing out at a 250 capacity,” Baker said. 

The Grape Day Festival

Llano Estacado hosts many festivals throughout the year.  This festival falls right after the completion of the winery’s harvest season. More than 3,000 guests from all over the U.S. arrive at the winery in the fall for the event.

Llano Estacado always has live music, different food trucks, and more than 25 vendors at Grape day. “Grape Day is always in October,” Baker said. “As a fun way to celebrate harvest season being finished.” 

These festivities, of course, would not be possible without the help from all the tasting room staff and the events team at Llano Estacado. Sukin focuses on maintaining a well-trained staff able to answer any questions related to viticulture or the wine-making process. “Having employees who are able to give tips of advice or recommendations for our wine comes in hands at busy times like Grape Day,” Sukin said. 

Not Just A Winery

Llano Estacado Winery carries on Texas traditions by pouring glasses and cheering for the Red Raiders as they are surrounded by acres of agriculture. Customers turn into friends and staff turns into family, spreading the community love and awareness all around.  As Lubbock continues to grow in size and having a winery maintaining the title as the ‘largest premium winery in Texas’, gives travelers a better reason to visit our west Texas city. 

Taking the Reins: Crofoot Family makes lasting impact on Texas Tech Equestrian Center

AQHA, horse, cowboy
Born and raised on the ranch, "Dan," a three-year-old gelding, has been trained by Crofoot from the ground up.

Selling a third-generation feedlot was not an easy decision. However, when the opportunity presented itself, Terry Crofoot took the chance to pursue a lifetime dream of ranching and raising horses.

Crofoot, who resides in Lubbock, Texas, always had a passion for raising and showing horses. After selling the family feedlot in 1996, Crofoot and his wife, Kelly, purchased land near Clarendon, Texas, to form Crofoot Ranches, LLP. Soon after, Crofoot started pursuing his dream of raising horses and showing in versatility ranch horse competitions. 

As Crofoot expanded into the horse world, he reached out to others to become a better horseman. 

“I got to travel with a lot of [horse training] clinicians, and it was a very rewarding experience for me,” Crofoot said. “I actually put on a few clinics myself.” 

Spending time with clinicians and influencers inspired Crofoot to give back to the horse industry he had grown to know and love. 

In 2010, Crofoot began contributing to the Texas Tech Equestrian Center. At that time, the facility was more of a liability than an asset, nor did it have the funding necessary to help keep it maintained. 

“The people in charge didn’t really have a choice but to just kind of make do with what they had, and it was showing when I got there,” Crofoot said. 

Crofoot said he quickly started working with the Texas Tech administration to organize committees and funding to improve the equestrian center facilities. By 2016, with the assistance of other committee members, he formed an executive committee to regulate each subcommittee and served as the chairman of this committee until August 2017. 

It just creates an environment where you want to succeed.

“I felt like my main role was a liaison between the committee, the center and the administration at the university,” Crofoot said. “We had to educate them on what we were, so they would understand and try to help us. They’ve been very receptive. I’m really thankful for the people we’ve got in the administration right now. They are kind of fulfilling the dream I had for it.”

Looking back at his nine years with the Texas Tech Equestrian Center, Crofoot said he likes the facility because it is more than a physical location; it is a place for students to learn skills to use after college whether that is work ethic, time management, organization, or people skills. 

“All of those skills you wouldn’t necessarily think of in relation to horsemanship, but in this particular case with students that are interested in the horses, it’s an avenue. The horse is just a tool to accomplish all those things.”

Crofoot said the people at the equestrian center also contribute to the students by providing the right mental environment.

“Both staff and other students all have a common goal,” Crofoot said, “and it just creates an environment where you want to succeed.”

Moving forward, Crofoot would like to see the facility and its reputation continue to excel with the support of the university and the Lubbock community. 

“You know, it’s easy to say get bigger and better as a goal. Better is always a good goal, while bigger is not necessarily always a good goal. We’d like to see as many people that want to participate can, but there is a limit to the resources we have. We just need to use our resources wisely and provide the service to as many students as we can.”

Crofoot and his wife continue to be the top supporters of the Texas Tech Equestrian Center by donating their time and money to ensure the facility and students succeed. 

“I think that we’re blessed to have the connection with the Texas Tech Equestrian Center,” Kelly Crofoot said. “We love the way that they produce young adults to go out into the world with a sense of responsibility, a sense of accomplishment, and also a sense of pride.”  

Something’s a Brew

Owners of Two Docs at the ribbon cutting for the business.

t’s a warm summer evening, the smell of BBQ is in the air, children are laughing in the background, and you have an ice-cold home-brewed beer in your hand.

Two Docs Brewing Co., located in the Arts District of Lubbock, is dedicated to providing good beer and a family-friendly atmosphere to its customers. Named for its owners who have terminal degrees, the “Two Docs,” Eric Cunningham and Tyson Purdy, first began brewing beer together in their backyards. The inspiration for Two Docs came from their backyard BBQs, and they wanted to translate that atmosphere into a brewery.

 “We love Lubbock, and we wanted it to be representative of the city in downtown,” Eric Washington, co-owner of Two Docs, said. “But, we wanted it to kind of feel like it wasn’t in Lubbock; almost like something new for Lubbock.”

“We don’t think there’s people that don’t like beer. We think there’s just people that haven’t tried the right beer yet,”

The Art of Brewing

When it comes to brewing craft beer, the owners of Two Docs look at it as an artform. Raw materials and vision are combined to produce a unique form of art — craft beer. Each flavor of beer is brewed right at Two Docs and then transferred to the tap.

“That’s something we wanted to really embrace,” Washington, said. “This is as local and fresh as you can get. It’s coming straight from the bank to the tank to your glass.”

End of the Street Wheat beer has become a favorite of Two Docs customers.

Since its opening, Two Docs has introduced at least four new beers each month. The goal is to eventually produce a beer for every customer’s palate. Washington said many people just try one type of beer and decide they do not like all beer, but there are so many variations each palate is sure to find one they like.

“We don’t think there’s people that don’t like beer. We think there’s just people that haven’t tried the right beer yet,” Washington said. “We want to try to find the beer that fits every palate, and we think we can do that.”

Local home-brewer Mike Studler has been brewing beer for 30 years and said there is no other brewery in Lubbock that compares to Two Docs. He and his wife, Robbie, have been at Two Docs every weekend since it opened.

“I like all beer, but this is some of the best I have ever had,” Mike said. “I lean more toward the red because they put a little more hops than most. You just can’t find anything else like it around here.”

Brewing for The Future

Two Docs is focused on being as energy efficient as possible. Its patio covering is assembled of solar panels, which currently power one-third of the operation.

The brewing process requires large quantities of water and energy. Washington said Two Docs vision was to try to mitigate as much water loss as possible, and solar energy just seemed like the most logical step.

“Part of what we always wanted to do is be a sustainable brewery,” Washington said. “We’re going to continue to move toward a green energy kind of mindset here.”

Two Docs is leading by example and inspiring other businesses to install solar or use a different renewable energy source and be more responsible with their water use.

A Hoppin’ Downtown

Along with creating artistic craft beer and energy efficiency, Two Docs is at the forefront of the revitalization mission for downtown. Since its opening in February 2019, it has brought new cliental to the downtown area. The City of Lubbock has been encouraging revitalization of downtown to help retain recent graduates and bring in new talent.

“I think that part of what that means is creating a cultural center that appeals to those people that come from areas that are used to that kind of thing,” Washington said. “There’s a lot of value economically to the city having a more diverse kind of cultural center.”

Part of Two Docs’ contribution to revitalization is by encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of the small business owner through the incorporation of food trucks.

 “One of the things we were dead set on from the beginning is we’re not going to do a kitchen,” Washington said. “We always wanted to have food trucks out there, give them a place to park and hook up, because we love the local food trucks.”

Two Docs features a different food truck each day and advertise it on social media. This makes it easer to find the local food trucks providing more business not only for the food trucks, but also to Two Docs.

 “Most nights we get something off of the foods trucks and eat it here or bring it home,” Studler said. “I’m not getting bored of a set menu like most breweries have. The food trucks offer a large selection of food.” In just a matter of months, Two Docs has changed the way many in Lubbock look at beer. Customers can enjoy a craft beer knowing they are contributing to the growth of downtown Lubbock

Owners of Two Docs at the ribbon cutting for the business.

Lubbock Landscaping Redefined


hat started as a college student trying to earn money on the side has bloomed into West Texas’ oldest premiere provider of landscape design and construction. Tom’s Tree Place has re-defined the meaning of growing a business while holding onto its local roots.

Texas Tech alum and current owner of Tom’s Tree Place, Alex Scarborough, recalls his dad, Tom Scarborough, sharing the story of how the popular landscape-design company began.

“When World War II was over, my dad was headed to Texas A&M to go to forestry school there.” Scarborough said he hitch-hiked and thought he would stop by and see his Navy buddies in Lubbock. He said he got out of the truck and saw his first tumbleweed rolling across the ground.

There was a lack of admission slots due to so many veterans coming back from WWII, so the state of Texas required Texas citizenship to attend any of the universities within the state. Luckily, that did not stop Tom, the southern Mississippi native, from still attending one. 

“His buddies were getting ready to start the semester and they asked him, ‘why don’t you just go to school here?’” Alex said. “So, they went down to the admissions office with him and swore he was from some little town in Texas.” 

While Tom was attending school, he started a tree-spraying business to earn extra cash. It was not until a customer expressed how difficult it was to get in contact him without a place of business that Tom decided to purchase some property in Lubbock, Texas.

“He got a place on West 34th street, way outside of town. He came out here in 1950 and started the business on this location,” Alex said, pointing at the ground. “This is the original.”

Despite the growing popularity of landscape architecture, many people are not aware of the various roles they play. The Lubbock-based landscape design company is making it known that the landscape industry has more to offer than just jobs mowing grass.

Abbie Jones, marketing coordinator of Tom’s Tree Place, said the retail nursery is one of the many services offered by the company. 

“The retail nursery is where people come in and buy plants,” Jones explained. “It’s kind of like the do-it-yourself customers that come and get the fertilizers, garden seeds, and the plants and trees.” 

Jones said there is also the landscape architect sector of the business, where the design aspect comes into play.

“We bid projects out for jobs that are already designed, and we just offer to install them,” Jones said. 

Landscape construction comes with two different aspects: a hardscape division and a softscape division. Jones explained hardscape and softscape are the complete opposites of each other; both are necessary to make a landscape fully functional.

I think that we all think it’s important to give that back to the community.

“The hardscape sector of the business is anything that’s not living.” Jones said. “This would be the concrete pavers, brick walls, and a bunch of grading and drainage. Then we have the softscape side of the business, which is installing all the living products. The trees, the plants, the flowers all go with that.”

Whether their work has been recognized or not, almost everyone in Lubbock has seen a job done by Tom’s Tree Place. From the landscape installation at Texas Tech’s new performance center, to the re-construction of the Dairy Barn, it is hard to believe that there is someone in Lubbock who has not come across a Tom’s Tree Place project.

An often-visited development is the re-design of the Will Rodgers and Soapsuds statue on Texas Tech’s campus.

“The statue’s the same, but it used to be to where you couldn’t walk right up to it,” Jones said. “We redid the hardscape on it, so we poured all the concrete that’s around it.”

An ongoing project Tom’s Tree Place has upheld since 2000 is the maintenance and upkeep of North Overton. 

“When I went to college, students didn’t dare go off in there because it was a scary place to go,” Scarborough said. “We’re really proud with how that’s turned out, it’s changed that whole area of town. It’s just a nice place to live now, well-lit sidewalks, good bus connection, a lot of bicycling. The whole neighborhood is pretty neat.”

Tom’s Tree Place is also responsible for the re-design of the fountain and planting the trees at the Broadway and University Avenue entrance to Texas Tech. Jones, who graduated in 2011 from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications before she worked for Tom’s, said she is most proud of the beautification of the campus. 

“That was just a really cool project to be a part of because Texas Tech is so near and dear to my heart,” Jones said, “and it’s cool to see our stamp around campus and contribution to the beautification of it.”

Not only does Tom’s Tree Place deal with commercial landscape construction, but they are also engaged with the community in a variety of ways. Since 2014, Tom’s Tree Place has hosted an annual Easter egg hunt. This event was created to encourage kids in the neighborhood to have a fun, safe egg hunt.

“The egg hunt is a fun event to get our neighborhood involved with the business,” Jones stated. “I think that we all think it’s important to give that back to the community and the egg hunt is the one that gives back to this actual neighborhood the most.”

When it comes to challenges the company faces, Jones said the biggest one is keeping themselves relevant to the community.

“A challenge is how to keep yourself relevant, but not to the point where you’re only focused on the bottom line,” Jones said, “but you’re also focused on the community and your positive impact on the community.” 

Architecture, After Design


s everyone is seated, Jason Sowell stares out to the crowd of students and peers. The attendees are on the edge of their seats waiting to learn more about landscape architecture.

Sowell is a registered architect and a professor at Texas Tech University in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Sowell spearheaded the Texas Tech event, After Design, at the College of Architecture in April 2019. After Design is a symposium the role of management to students how architects think about how architects think about landscapes and the steps it takes to implement them long-term.

 “I invited a whole series of scholars and practitioners in the state of Texas, who are at the forefront of management concerns in a whole range of different landscapes,” Sowell said.

Sowell had help from his graduate student and communications manager, Justin Palacios, on this project. Palacios is handling the marketing and communications aspects of the event and has created groundwork for future events.

“This is a brand-new event that is going to become an annual event,” Palacios said. “So, I’m really trying to create a foundation for him.”

I invited a whole series of scholars and practitioners in the state of Texas.

Aside from After Design, Sowell also teaches landscape architecture studio classes where he helps students craft a variety of solutions to architectural problems or questions. During the spring 2019 semester, the students worked toward generating different scenarios on how downtown Lubbock can be redesigned to fit the city’s Draft Master Plan.

Jason Sowell PhD works in his landscape architecture design program to develop lesson plans for his students.

“The Draft Master Plan proposes to revitalize the downtown as a new place for commercial, residential and retail,” Sowell said.

Sowell has a passion for landscape architecture and plans to remain teaching students the proper curriculum. He will also continue working as a registered architect to help solve some of the leading issues in the industry. He resonates with nationally renowned landscape architecture icon, John Brinckerhoff Jackson, and supports his definition of landscape architecture.

“J.B. Jackson, who was a significant cultural historian of landscapes, asserted that landscape is, in essence, humanity taking upon themselves the responsibility to accelerate biophysical prophecies,” Sowell said. “It also means that there is a need to care for that landscape and manage it in order to achieve the goals and objectives that the cultural and social outline.”

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce: Helping Farmers and Ranchers Since 1910


icture this: the scene opens on the young city of Lubbock circa 1910. The Lubbock Commercial Club – now the Chamber of Commerce – created its agriculture committee to partner with Crosbyton, Texas to build a railway between the two cities. Then fast forward six years to 1916, the club creates a film to recruit farmers in Lubbock County to support the railway. The Commercial Club was also instrumental in creating the South Plains Fair, “the granddaddy of West Texas fairs.”

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce’s agriculture committee has continually taken care of the farmers and ranchers in and around Lubbock County. The partnership with the City of Crosbyton was for the good of farmers in both cities so their seed, grain and cattle trades could happen on a broader scale. Without the committee advocating for the railroad, the cities of Crosbyton and Lubbock would not have had the opportunity to grow because of improvements to agriculture.

Since then, the Commercial Club has been renamed to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce; however, the agriculture committee remains the same and is the longest standing committee in the chamber. The committee shares their knowledge of agriculture with schools in Lubbock County with Ag in the Classroom and shares it with members of the community through Ag in the Bag. Norma Ritz Johnson, executive vice president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, knows the importance of the agriculture committee their goal is to advocate and inform the public about agriculture.

“Keeping the business owners and those that are involved in restaurants involved in agriculture is so important,” Johnson said. “Some of our chamber members don’t understand what all goes on in ag, but if you asked them about the farm bill they could at least tell you why it’s important.”

With over 100 years of experience in advocacy and education with agriculture, the chamber’s agriculture committee continues to do what is best for the Lubbock agricultural community. Because of events like Ag in the Bag and Ag in the Classroom, the committee is building a community that is more educated in agriculture than previous generations. Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says that people are three generations removed from the farm. According to a Family and Consumer Sciences high school teacher, children grow up believing their milk comes from the store and not a cow or that eggs come from out of the ground.

The committee is a diverse assemblage of people made up of seed companies and other agriculture businesses. The main purposes of the committee are for people in the agriculture industry to network with one another and learn about changes in the world of agriculture. Every month the committee meets and discusses what is going on in Lubbock agriculture.

During their meeting in March 2019 Carol Faulkenberry, a region I representative from the Texas Department of Agriculture, spoke about Continental Dairy Facilities Southwest building, a processing facility in Littlefield, Texas. Faulkenberry discussed Levelland Plastics accepting the Texas Capital Fund and HEB hosting their Quest for the Best contest.

“HEB is one of our Go Texan members and they are looking for Texas products in their stores,” Faulkenberry said. “We had 14 individuals that came in and several were Go Texan members who were trying a new market.”

Johnson said the committee invites a meteorologist to some meetings to give some insight as to what producers can expect in the year to come. She also said advocacy on the farm bill and water policy is especially important to the committee. Johnson said small businesses in Lubbock may not know the specifics about what is going on in the legislature, but the committee wants them to know how important agriculture is to their business.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce has a saddle that was hand made by inmates of the Texas Prison System.

Known as the Hub City, Lubbock has always been a place for farmers and ranchers from all parts of West Texas to get their necessary ag-related products.

“One third of taxes are paid by people who do not live in Lubbock,” Johnson said.

From equipment and seed stores all the way to something as small as PVC collars needed to repair a water line – Lubbock has the exact parts needed to maintain a farm or ranch.

Which is why I’ve always thought of Lubbock not as a metroplex, but as more of an agri-plex.

The Chamber’s agriculture committee has been one of the longest contributors to the success of Lubbock’s agriculture industry. The actions of the original agriculture committee have shaped the way agriculture is advocated in Lubbock today. The committee continues to strive toward educating everyone it comes in contact with about what is true and what is a myth when it comes to current agriculture practices. Each member thinks of themselves as an ambassador for agriculture and wants to send out the correct message about today’s agricultural practices and hot-button issues.

Where the Grass Grows Greener

The researchers will utilize a drone, equip with various sensors, in hopes of identifying the optimum sensor to detect drought stress on turfgrass. Golf courses in the Lubbock area provide economic benefit to the region according to the projects lead researcher, Joey Young Ph. D.

A situation is playing out in the Texas Panhandle and local golf courses are feeling the heat. During the end of 2017 and into early 2018, the region has gone through an extreme drought, and the main source of groundwater has been in rapid decline for over a decade. Two Texas Tech University faculty members are gearing up to tackle the water issue.

Although an afternoon on the golf course sounds like a fun way to spend the day, for Joey Young, Ph.D. and Wenxuan Guo, Ph.D., two assistant professors in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, it is an opportunity to solve overwatering of recreational turfgrass.

With the region in an extreme drought and the Ogallala Aquifer at risk of total depletion, golf courses like the Rawls Course at Texas Tech are under pressure, said course superintendent, Rodnie Bermea.

“Golf courses use a lot of water,” Bermea said. “In times of drought, it’s especially hard to water all areas of the properly and efficiently. We can end up using more water than we need to, which costs us money and hurts our water supply.”

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, turf requires an average of 25 to 60 inches of water annually, depending on climate, to maintain a healthy appearance. This is one reason some argue golf courses are wasteful. However, Young, an assistant professor of turfgrass science, sees it differently.

It’s more than a tee time

“There’s definitely a perception that golf courses and turfgrass are something that’s basically a waste of a lot of water, and therefore unnecessary,” Young said. “But that’s just not the case. Courses provide a big economic benefit for cities like Lubbock.”

[Left to Right] Joey Young Ph. D., and Wenxuan Guo Ph. D., discuss plans for their turfgrass research at the Rawls Golf Course as the drone waits, ready for takeoff.
Young argues tournaments and other events hosted at courses like the Rawls impact the local economy by bringing people into the city who utilize local businesses. A sentiment echoed by Bermea.

“Tournaments aren’t only beneficial to the Rawls course, ” Bermea said. “They help everyone. There are the obvious businesses that benefit directly from visitors to the golf course, like hotels, restaurants and all that. But there’s a trickle-down effect on the economy that just can’t be understated.”

While it is apparent golf courses use a lot of water, Young and Guo have devised a plan that could help not only the drought-stricken Lubbock area, but could impact courses around the country and the world.

“Water is our No. 1 limiting resource,” said Guo, an assistant professor of crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture. “Everyone knows the Ogallala Aquifer is depleting at a rapid rate. So, we need to figure out how to save the water or use the water more wisely, more efficiently. This is important from both an economic and social perspective.”

Driving with the drone

Guo said it is not only important to save water for the next generation, but also to conserve water for conventional agriculture production. With a grant provided by the United States Golf Association, the two researchers have developed an experiment with the potential to allow more accurate water allocation on golf courses.

Courses provide a big economic benefit for cities like Lubbock.

“Our goal is to utilize drones and different sensors that will be attached to the drones to collect imagery that could basically determine areas of drought stress on a golf course,” Young said. “The overall purpose would be to utilize various sensors that may give us different information.”

Once these optimal sensors are identified, they could be utilized by golf courses to identify drought stress, potentially before it is even visible to the human eye, Young said. This technology would be used by course managers to adjust irrigation from areas that stay wetter to areas that tend to dry out more. This will ultimately help lower water usage on the golf course and achieve more balanced playing conditions.

“If this technology could allow us to see an area that’s dryer or an area that’s wetter we would be able to water those areas more efficiently,” Bermea said. “We could create a more sustainable irrigation program that would be environmentally beneficial and save us money.”

Simply lowering the golf courses irrigation by 10 to 15 percent would be a huge financial saving for the Rawls, Bermea said.

The research is being conducted at the Rawls Golf Course as well as the Amarillo Country Club, which use different kinds of turfgrass. The varying sensors will give a broader picture of how cool season and warm season turfgrasses handle drought stress.

Young says ultimately he hopes to identify sensors to address specific issues on golf courses and would then like to share that information with course managers around the country. But, it is not just golf courses that may be reaping the benefit of his research.

A put for all mankind

In tandem with the research being conducted on Lubbock and Amarillo golf courses, Guo will also be utilizing the drone and sensor technology to look at lowering water usage in conventional agriculture.

“My area of research is in crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture,” Guo said. “I will be using drones to identify the crop growth variability in fields, within the same season. So, before the final yield at the end of the season, we can look at how the plants are growing and adjust irrigation and other imputes to minimize resource use.”

He said even though different plants sometimes require different methods to study, all plants show drought stress in the same way.

Just like the work being done on the courses, Guo hopes to utilize drone imagery to identify areas of drought stress in crops like corn, cotton and sorghum.

“It has become increasingly important to conserve our water,” Guo said. “The water in our area has been diminishing much faster than originally expected, and we don’t know what our water supply will look like in 20 years. Our whole economy is driven by an adequate water supply, so that makes it urgent.”

This joint research endeavor to ultimately lower water usage in West Texas could have a lasting impact on the region, through improving sustainability and protecting the economic stability of golf courses and conventional agriculture practices. But Young hopes their research will have an even greater impact.

“It’s important to us that we are doing what’s right for our region,” Young said. “But bigger than that I want to communicate our findings to the scientific community in hopes that the information can be shared with course superintendents around the world. For my research to have that kind of reach and impact communities around the world would be the ultimate reward.”

Navigating Red Rivers

Rivers leads tours through the exhibits of the Bayer Museum of Agriculture.

Red Rivers strolls slowly, but purposefully, through the Bayer Museum of Agriculture as he points to gleaming tractors and offers information on the different exhibits. He runs his weathered hands over the glossy metal of the tractors, his voice filling the hall with the sureness of someone that has given this tour many times. At 88 years old, Rivers’ same hands have restored rusting equipment for the museum, driven a tractor as a child in the cotton fields, and greeted countless friends.

Coming from a small town in West Texas, Rivers married Patricia in 1954. The couple has two children, George and Ruth.

I was born on January the 17th, 1930, in a little place called Tuxedo,” Rivers said with a slight smile as he pointed to the brightly colored dot marking his birth place on a map.

Rivers was raised on a cotton farm and helped his father with the operation.

“I grew up on the Model A John Deere; my dad bought a new 1937 model,” Rivers recalled. “I was 7-years-old, and within three weeks I was driving the tractor, and by the time I was 10-years-old, I was the tractor hand.”

When he was 19-years-old, Rivers went to work at a John Deere dealership in Snyder, Texas; he began at the small tractor dealership as nothing more than a janitor. He soon moved up to a sales position and eventually he became a manager. Today, he owns stock in the John Deere dealership.

Rivers stresses he has never worked a day in his life and enjoyed the relationships he formed with the people he met along the way.

“I never did dread going to work in the morning,” Rivers said.

Rivers said serving the farmers everyday was a pleasure.

“They weren’t just customers,” he said, “they were friends.”

Rivers restored a tractor in 1960 for the first time for the John Deere dealership. He would place the older tractor by the new merchandise so customers could make comparisons on what they were purchasing.

It was only natural that Rivers became involved at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture. Rivers was friends with Alton Brazell, who developed the idea of collecting old farm equipment so the community could have an agriculturally-focused museum. Rivers helped Brazell accumulate and restore agricultural artifacts and materials.

Forty years ago, Lubbock civic leaders, including Brazell, recognized the region’s agricultural heritage was slipping away. In 1969, the Lubbock County Commissioners’ Court gave Brazell approval to begin collecting machinery that was a part of the technical transformation that took place on the farms of the South Plains.

The tractors, combines, plows, drills and thousands of other farm-related artifacts soon became a part of the Lubbock County Historical Collection.

Originally called the American Museum of Agriculture, the Bayer Museum of Agriculture first opened the doors of its current facility, the Alton Brazell Exhibit Hall, at Lubbock’s Canyon Lake Drive on April 13, 2012.

Lacee Hoelting is the executive director at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock, Texas. Rivers was a volunteer at the museum when Hoelting began working there 10 years ago. Hoelting said he was one of the first people she met.

“He has a lot of knowledge about specialty items and artifacts,” Hoelting said.

As Hoelting grew to know Rivers, she realized he had been involved with the museum since its inception in 1969 when the commissioner’s court got approval to start collecting items for the county historical collection.

Hoelting said Rivers would use his extensive knowledge of agricultural equipment to help collect and appraise items. He has also helped numerous farmers value their machinery and equipment.

Rivers has been instrumental in recruiting and coordinating the museum volunteers, Hoelting said.

“He’s also phenomenal at keeping in touch with all of them,” Hoelting said. “If someone doesn’t show up, he is the first one to call. He goes and visits people in the hospital. He just checks up on people.”

Hoelting said Rivers is like a grandfather at times and always makes himself available to help.

“He really cares about agriculture and history,” Hoelting said. “He does everything he can to help the museum; to help it grow and to preserve things.”

Hoelting said Rivers is very creative and good with his hands.

“He’s good at building,” Hoelting declared, while pointing to a lamp on her desk that Rivers created for her out of antique materials.

“He is also very driven,” Hoelting said. “If you ask him to do anything, he’s doing it that day or looking into it that day. He does not put things off.”

Rivers regularly gives tours to visitors, restores materials for exhibits, and collects equipment to enhance the museum.

It’s just been a good life for me.

Rivers said the best part of being involved at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture is meeting people.

“That’s the best part of this job,” Rivers said, with a grin. “Of course, I enjoyed restoring the old equipment, too.”

Rivers’ individual reasons for being involved at the museum center on his love for the work and the people he meets. He especially enjoys giving young children tours of the exhibits.

“Little kids are my favorite,” Rivers said. “I tell couples all the time that come in here that life won’t get any better than raising those kids.”

Rivers wants people to know agriculture is where we come from.

“You know, a hundred years ago, nearly everybody was involved in agriculture in one respect or another,” Rivers said.

Rivers thinks it is important to keep telling agriculture’s story to keep people interested. He connects with people every day at the museum, builds relationships, and therefore instills the significance of agriculture.

Each tractor in the museum Rivers has helped restore serves as a reminder and symbol of the connection with the tractor’s previous owner.

“It’s just been a good life for me,” Rivers said softly as he gazed across the exhibit hall, his eyes reflecting the shine of the tractors.

Rivers began his life on a tractor, worked for another 60 years with tractors, and continues to restore them to this day. However, tractors are not the only things Rivers restores. Rivers rebuilds the stories of agriculture’s history that could otherwise be lost.

Red Rivers is many things to many people. He is a conservator of artifacts, storyteller of agriculture, and most importantly, a friend to all.

Rivers restores equipment in the museum’s expansive warehouse in downtown Lubbock.

The Making of a Candy Man

Goodart is approaching their 80 year business anniversary in 2019.

Nearly 80 years ago, the original candy man known as “Mr. Goodart” moved from rural Anton, Texas, to Lubbock. After selling his precious pink candies in his local store, Goodart sought out bigger ways to share his candy and increase his sales throughout more of West Texas, which inspired his move to Lubbock. Goodart left the comfort of his small hometown in 1939 to open Goodart Candy Company in the Hub City, which had a population of 31,000 at that time.

Made with only three simple ingredients, the sweet and salty 3-inch candies are favorites of transplanted Texans, old-timers, children and sweet-toothed enthusiast. Today, Goodart Candy produces peanut products that are sold coast to coast, and it is the largest manufacturer of peanut patties in the United States.

“Our peanut brittle is popular but our peanut patties are our bread and butter,” said Ron Harbuck, vice president of Goodart Candy and Tyler, Texas native.

In a single day, Goodart Candy can produce as many as 20,000 peanut patties and use up to 1,500 pounds of peanuts. According to Harbuck, the art of peanut candy production cannot be automated, therefore each patty produced is dipped by hand.

Goodart Candy uses Spanish peanuts in their candy products because they have the most oil, are the healthiest peanut type, and have the best flavor of all the peanuts on the market, Harbuck said.

The New Candy Man

For the last 27 years, Harbuck has been running Goodart Candy since purchasing a part in the company in 1991, following the retirement of Goodart. Surrounded by the sweet aroma of cooking sugar and the hardy peanut, Harbuck shared the sticky business and his personal history of the Lubbock candy operation.

“Good working relationships with suppliers, distributors and customers is all you can really ask and work toward,” he said.

Prior to his introduction into the world of candy, Harbuck spent two years as a company clerk in the U.S. Army, while he was stationed in Germany and then worked as a landman in the oil industry until he found a sweeter substance to work with.

Harbuck said his mother was the bookkeeper for Tyler Candy Company, and she influenced him to take the first steps into the sugary life of the candy business. The owner of Tyler Candy, Anthony George, was looking for help with the day-to-day management operations as he neared retirement, and in 1986, Harbuck stepped up to learn the tricks of the candy trade.

After learning from George about the artistry that goes into the candy-making process and valuable business skills, Harbuck moved to West Texas and began his reign as the new South Plains candy man.

From cooking to cleaning, Harbuck humbly does it all. He trains every employee that comes through the doors of the east Lubbock candy factory and processes every order that goes out of the office.

“I’m partner, vice president and head bottle washer,” Harbuck said.

Goodart is the No. 1 peanut patty producer in Texas.

The Candy Man Can

Goodart peanut candies can be found at local grocery stores, chain convenient stops and big-name retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Matt Williams, a proud supper of Goodart Candy and their GoTexan label, was the former Goodart Candy contact with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Under the direction ofHarbuck, with the help of Williams, Goodart Candy became a GoTexan member in 1999 and now serves as one of the state’s founding members.

Harbuck’s name goes outside of the candy industry and has a fair and honest business reputation throughout the state. Goodart Candy is known as a company that keeps the “Golden Rule,” Williams said.

“Ron is one of those people who makes sure things are taken care of and done right,” Williams said.

Like many others, Williams said he first imagined Goodart Candy to be a large, distant company because their products are so widely distributed and so well known but quickly realized they are a modest and local company. The workforce behind the peanut candies includes 10 hard working employees who take pride in creating a quality peanut product.

“My fondest memories at TDA,” Williams said, “come from working with small businesses like Goodart.”

Williams said Harbuck’s old-school work ethic, good business skills, and favorable customer service are just a small part of why Goodart has become successful in its nearly 80 years of making candy.

That’s been my philosophy all these years, you just try to help everyone out.

It’s All About the Business

During his time with Tyler Candy, Harbuck got to know other candy factories and distributors and said he had great working relationships them.

During his early years of business, Harbuck nearly had to shut the doors at Tyler Candy because of a broken down sugar truck. Holcomb Candy in Jacksonville, Texas, graciously loaned Harbuck the sugar he needed to keep producing candy so he could keep his employees in a job.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with those who you would call competitors,” Harbuck said.

Harbuck said he owes a lot of his business success to the positive working relationships he has kept over the years, the advice from his mentors like George and Holcomb, and his friendship with his business partner Bobby Borden. Harbuck was taught there is plenty of room for everyone in the candy business, and it is his role to help others out who are trying to make a living, too.

“That’s been my philosophy all these years,” Harbuck said. “You just try to help everyone out.”

After 32 years in the candy business, Harbuck continues to fill customer orders on paper invoices and makes candy, as it is ordered, to ensure freshness. Harbuck said Goodart’s candy is the freshest and finest candy on the market.

“Quality is the No. 1 thing with our candy,” Harbuck said.

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