Indianola irrigation company becomes a part of Chicot Irrigation
Indianola, Miss.–On March 30, Chicot Irrigation purchased Irrigation Equipment, Inc., from Pat Chism and son Mallory in what was described as a win-win scenario for all involved. The process began a few years ago when the Chisms and Chicot Irrigation president Cory Rowe got together to discuss the possibility of a buyout.
“I started this business 40 years ago,” says Pat Chism. “I was getting to an age where there were some other things I wanted to do, and Mallory’s heart was more into farming. I have a lot of friends who are my customers, and it was important to me not to leave them stranded. If I was going to sell, it needed to be to someone established enough to maintain or even take this business further. Chicot Irrigation can do that.”
Chicot Irrigation and Irrigation Equipment had been friendly competitors for years, both with reputations for being exceptionally well run and providing timely customer service. It took a while to find the time in a very demanding profession to actually put the deal together, but their efforts came to fruition last week.
“Indianola is really in the very center of the Mississippi Delta, and having the opportunity to consolidate the bulk of our field service operations under one roof in the heart of our service area was quite attractive to our team,” Rowe says. “Our end goal is to provide value to our customers by improving response time and customer service while keeping costs down. The communication, management and inventory efficiencies gained from this consolidation should allow us to achieve this in time.
“We’ll be moving our Greenwood operations, which includes the Valley Center Pivot dealership, to Indianola along with many of our Hollandale field service staff,” Rowe continues. “We will absolutely continue to serve our Hollandale customers and the south and west Delta from that store by keeping a full stock of irrigation supplies, pipe, fittings and poly pipe for our customers’ convenience.”
Rowe plans to keep all Mississippi employees on board. With the growth of the business, they will be needed. Some members of the Hollandale and Greenwood staff will join those in Indianola including Hubbard Stephens, who will manage operations in the state. Trey Jennings will help manage the service team, and Terry Fava and Dennis Buza will continue helping manage the Valley pivot operation. David Westrope, Jackie Jenkins and Danny Smith, who were with Irrigation Equipment, will continue on with Chicot Irrigation in their previous roles. The Hollandale service center will remain open under the leadership of Graham Hollister.
“I’m very excited about this growth of the Chicot Irrigation family,” says Rowe. “The staff in Indianola are among the most knowledgeable, hardworking and service-oriented professionals in the business. Those are the values that Chicot Irrigation holds close, so I expect this transition to be positive for everyone.”
Although a native of Lake Village, Ark., Rowe got his start in the irrigation business 20 years ago in Rolling Fork, Miss., and is, in fact, a graduate of Mississippi State University.
“I met my wife, Heather who is from Laurel, at Mississippi State,” he says. “After we got married, I opened a small office in Rolling Fork that I rented from MS Ag John Deere. She would oversee the office while I’d work in the field or meet with customers. Most of our management team are MSU graduates. Mississippi is as much a part of my life as Arkansas.
With the purchase of Irrigation Equipment, Chicot Irrigation becomes the largest ag irrigation company in the Southeast. Even with six regional offices and 100 plus employees, maintaining personal relationships with customers and staff is increasingly important to Rowe.
He says, “I appreciate the faith the Chisms have in us to take care of their customers and employees, and we will continue to support the community in a manner that is a credit to their family and the business they built here.”
“Cory and his team bring a lot to the table. They can provide services to my customers that we previously didn’t offer,” states Chism. “This is a good deal all around – for Chicot Irrigation, for the business I’ve built and for our customers.”
Founded in 1954, Chicot Irrigation is a family-owned business specializing in farm irrigation. Services include well-drilling, Valley Center Pivots sales and service, pump sales and service, underground pipe installation and poly pipe and parts sales. For more information: chicotirrigation.com.