Out last day in Texas had the AALP Class visit BNSF Railway headquarters (the air traffic control of the railway) a 23-billion dollar company situated outside of Fort Worth in an impressive, modern facility. We were greeted by James Titsworth, General Director of Business Development. We viewed the impressive state-of-the-art dispatch area, where over 250 people work together 24/7 ensuring safety of the railway system West of Mississippi. An impressive display of maps, graphs, live feeds were seen as data flows into dispatch in real time, making real time decisions. Truly a technology driven railway, busiest in North America.
After touring the dispatch area, we met in a boardroom to gain a better understanding of BNSF and Canadian agriculture. (Western Canada)
The Class learned that tonsumer, industrial, coal, and agricultural products are all transported (ag is a small piece of pie). This is very much a trade-dependent business, they are very concerned with NAFTA. North Gate Saskatchewan is the main inland port in Canada (crude, chemical, grain, primarily wheat and canola for Canada).
It was explained that it is a market-based system, working together with clients, giving them a competitive edge as the company is flexible to change with changing markets.
It was noted that many people who hold executive positions at BSNF come from agricultural backgrounds.
It was very interesting to have an insight of all the people and systems in place to have BSNF run smoothly. It is a well-run machine where efficiently and safety were paramount.
The afternoon was spent with Jim Prewitt of Landmark Nurseries. Jim also happens to be the chairman of the board of the TALL program.
Jim introduced us to his good friend Rutledge Haggard who lent us the use of his beautifully decorated hall for the meeting.
Rutledge gave us the background of his family and how they settled the area of Plano in 1866. He and his brother took over the family farm and continue to farm it today but the city is eating it up. They have no more cattle but continue to farm milo (grain sorghum) and wheat.
Jim was a very modest man. He grew up on a dairy farm but knew that was not his calling. He went to college, got married and took on his first job with a plumbing company but would only stay one year. After buying a new home, he began to landscape it. Others saw what he did and asked him to do theirs. His new career had started. He did 28 houses that year.
He acquired his parent’s farm (200 acres) and started the nursery. He currently has six nurseries and about 2500 customers all on the commercial side of landscaping. He sells everything from 4-inch pots to 45-gallon trees. He is moving from annuals to perennials, which is what his customers want. Jim has 278 employees and believes in giving them responsibilities. He has a problem with labour because so much of it is manual labour. He believes in reinvesting in people and that is his connection to the TALL program. He believes in relationships. He was very interested in knowing more about us than telling his story.
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