Food Industry Leaders Find the Best Climate in Lubbock
From Research to Manufacturing, the “Hub City” Knows Agriculture
With wine grapes, cotton, peanuts and dairy among the region’s popular agricultural commodities, it is only fitting that food manufacturing, production and research-based companies find their home in Lubbock. Learn more about what makes Lubbock the ideal place to grow for companies like Hampton Farms, Corteva Agriscience and Red River Commodities.
If you’ve experienced the salty crunch of ballpark peanuts while watching the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, or another major league baseball team at bat, you have a connection to Hampton Farms. Their nuts are grown in Texas, then roasted, salted, packed and shipped across the country, including to most major league stadiums.
Dallas Barnes, CEO of Hampton Farms leads the company and their value-based culture.
“Our owners have roots in farming and in 2022, Hampton Farms will celebrate our 75th year of staying true to our roots,” said Barnes. “We recognize that food manufacturers in the West Plains lead the economy in innovation. The more area producers we can buy from, the more we can contribute to this growth. That’s a win for Texas and the agricultural industry as a whole.”
Every decision he makes is based on their mission to be the best nut company today. Barnes believes that one of their best decisions was settling in Lubbock. A key priority was access to the right people to fill the jobs and fulfill the mission.
“Hiring is key,” said Barnes. “We need machine operators who understand food quality, and our equipment is not simple to operate. Lubbock’s population is a natural fit. They are skilled, smart and looking to join a company for the long term.”
Another draw was the agricultural research station shared by Texas Tech University as well as Texas A&M University.
“Here, the two schools combine forces, creating opportunities for collaboration, learning and partnerships,” said Barnes. “Texas Tech also provides an extraordinary opportunity for recruiting. For example, a Food Science major might intern as a quality technician and receive on-the-job training for a permanent position.”
With a plant and warehouse expansion planned for 2021, establishing roots in a place with access to talent continues to pay off.
Corteva Agriscience is a research-based facility working with seeds and crop production to support farmers and producers. The company began operations in Lubbock in January 2020 and opened a second facility just a year later in January 2021.
Warren Mayberry, Senior Lead for Government and Industry Affairs, attributes the growth and success of Corteva in large part to the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance’s (LEDA) assistance navigating the process of opening their second facility, and commitment to making Lubbock an agricultural research and production corridor.
“It’s clear that LEDA has been intentional in their plan to bring agriculture businesses to the area, which has always been an agrarian community,” said Mayberry. “As other cities and towns have gone the way of suburbs, Lubbock is maintaining their character and keeping heritage alive.”
Originally from Texas, Mayberry is a big fan of the “Hub City.”
“I appreciate the traditional way of life and what Lubbock has done to merge history and heritage with access to dining, entertainment and social establishments that appeal to young professionals and families,” said Mayberry. “Lubbock proves that you can have broad band and a cappuccino, along with wide open fields and a thriving university vibe.”
Their crops under study are primarily cotton, corn and sorghum, and the aim is to find what Mayberry calls “the right product for the right acre.”
“We’re excited to bring cutting-edge research from seed to yield,” said Mayberry. “Having two facilities here affords us the opportunity to perform research in the same geographical area where the products may be used. This is a key to our vision of keeping customers first.”
Red River Commodities is a multi-faceted company with two operations in the “Hub City.” The wildlife division processes and packages bird food and poultry treats. Their SunGold Foods facility roasts sunflower seeds, which make their way into Frito-Lay snacks, trail mixes and their SunButter brand, an allergen-free nut butter alternative.
Mike Williams grew up in Plainview, Texas, where he learned to love the agrarian lifestyle. Now the Managing Director of Procurement at Red River Commodities, his two decades with the company have spanned sales, purchasing, training and working with LEDA.
“Lubbock is a business-friendly community,” said Williams. “From city management to LEDA and other organizations, people are easy to work with and are true partners in achieving success.”
Lubbock is a natural fit for food manufacturing and production companies. When considering all the factors of the location decision, it ticked all the boxes: people, climate, productive farmland, proximity to Texas Tech, access to entertainment options and top-notch medical centers and specialists.
One of the primary considerations in location for businesses is access to the right workforce and a suitable business climate.
“People here are dedicated, tenacious, easy to train, highly skilled, hardworking and they take pride in what they do,” said Williams. “The weather is another reason we love West Texas. Since 1995, our wildlife division has experienced fewer than five days unable to operate due to snow, ice and inclement weather.”
Williams believes that companies in food production and manufacturing can reach further with access to Texas Tech, a Tier One research institution.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to work with professors, students and interns in the Food Science department on research and manufacturing processes projects,” said Williams.
On the personal side, Williams appreciates the friendliness and culture of Lubbock, especially the “Hub City’s” multiple music venues, drawing large and small acts from around the country.
From the seed to the soil and the people to the craft, Lubbock is the perfect climate for food research, manufacturing and production.
Learn more about the area’s diverse business climate and find out how you can grow in Lubbock.