The Davis family connection to the Plainview Grain Inspection and Weighing Service began in 1951 when Bob Davis went to work for the company. Bob and his wife Edna purchased the agency along with one partner in 1977. Their son Bill worked at the agency during summers and weekends while in college. After college, Bill worked for the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) in Kansas City as a grader for three years. When FGIS scaled back its operations in 1981, Bill returned to the family business.
Working for his father and mother, Bill did a great deal of the heavy lifting jobs around the agency and bought into the agency. In 1995, about four years after his dad passed, Bill purchased the remaining shares of the agency from his mother and one other individual. Bill’s son and daughter now work at the agency and he is proud to say that three generations of Davis’ have provided official service to the Plainview, Texas area.
In the early years the agency’s business involved grading hopper cars at local cooperatives. When shuttle loaders entered the market, the cooperatives could not compete, and this business went away. Not to be deterred, Plainview developed a business model to inspect inbound grain to feedlots on a submitted sample basis. Around the same time the feedlots developed the Southwest Scale of Discounts which allowed them to discount grain received on a submitted sample basis.
Most of the agency business is submitted samples from the feedlots. Those samples are not as easy to grade as many might think. The feedlots purchase a lot of distressed grain and the type of grain varies widely. When there are problems with a crop somewhere else in the country it will most likely make its way to the feedlots. Some years it may be barley, other years it may be spring wheat, so Plainview must maintain licenses for almost all grains and be proficient in all their damages.
Little grain is grown locally as it once was. Drought and depressed wheat prices have cause much of the local wheat crop to be green chopped or bailed and sent to dairies. Occasionally, sorghum is grown as a second crop when the cotton crop fails. Plainview does have two onsite shuttle loading laboratories that are used sporadically. They have seven employees and with upwards of 50 feedlots providing samples daily, it can be a challenge when a shuttle loader needs service.
Plainview has an Agricultural Marketing Agreement with FGIS to grade edible beans. Blackeye beans are grown locally, and the agency services a packaging plant that receives pinto and black beans that are repackaged for the School Lunch Program. They also grade sunflower seeds for a birdseed company.
Bill says what keeps him interested in grain inspection is that he really likes to grade grain, and the variety of grains that they encounter each day means that grading is never boring. No doubt that with the Davis family’s ability to find a way to provide official service in an everchanging market, they will continue to provide service for many years to come.