Morton Business Owner: 'I've been here all my life and I'm not t - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Morton Business Owner: 'I've been here all my life and I'm not thinking about leaving Morton'

(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)

Morton is home to family-owned businesses like the local supermarket and cotton gins that have been there for decades. 

Farming and ginning is not easy and neither is trying to keep a business going in a small town. 

However, the residents in Morton say what is easy is falling in love with the community.

"We are a family corporation, and I am supposedly the president," said Gary Willingham, with Willingham Gin, Inc.

He humbly runs the gin along with help from his family. 

He said his wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law all work together. 

We asked if it is difficult to balance personal life with an office full of family members. 

"It's real good until I get all three females on me at the same time," Willingham laughed. 

Willingham said his parents traded their farms for the gin in the 1950s. 

"The gin is 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

Willingham will be the first to admit, that ginning is not an easy job. 

"I'll throw my hands up and say, 'I'm not going to do this anymore, I'm not going to do it anymore, but all I have to do is hear the gin start up and go to running and all of that goes away," Willingham said. 

He said those long hours are not unusual for the hard workers in rural communities. 

"We work two shifts, seven to seven, seven days a week," said Larry Ivans.

Ivans is the general manager of the Southwest Gin, which is located just on the other side of town from the Willingham Gin. 

"I've done this all of my life. My dad put in 48 years in the cotton gins and I'm somewhere around 34 years now," Ivans said.

Ivans said he has worked for Curtis Griffith at the gin since he first got into the industry.

"People in the cotton industry, they have all heard about this gin. This gin is well-known all over Texas," Ivans said.

It is a risky business full of unpredictabilities. 

"In 2010, we ginned about 73,000 and then the drought kind of moved in. Last year we had a pretty good run. We ginned about 30,000 bales and it was good quality cotton. This year, I hope we gin 40,000," Ivans said.

It is more than the hope for another good season that keep these families in Morton.

"Morton, in my opinion, is one of the most caring, supportive, giving communities anywhere," Willingham said. 

It is a common sentiment across this community of roughly 2,000. 

"I've been in Morton all my life, and I think this is the best community to live in," said Junior Vasquez. 

Vasquez owns the local supermarket, where he knows many customers by name. 

It is the only grocery store within several miles.

"I've been here all my life, and I'm not thinking about leaving Morton. That was one of the biggest reason, I wanted to Morton to have a grocery store. We need more people coming in and we need more things for Morton so we can stay going, so we can stay focused on the town," Vasquez said.

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