October 3, 2018

Deep in the Heart – and Heat – of Texas, a Breeze Makes All the Difference

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Movie buffs the world over know Samuel L. Jackson the actor. But in the West Texas town of Lubbock, the name Samuel Jackson is famous for something entirely different. There, near one of the largest cotton-growing regions in America, it’s as intertwined with cotton processing as cotton fiber is to the seed.

It all started nearly 100 years ago, when cotton-seed breeder Samuel B. Jackson pioneered technologies to make cotton processing and handling easier. The Fabric of Our Lives© doesn’t just come off the plant ready to wear, after all. First it needs to be cleaned of seeds and debris, and for that it needs to be dried. Later, it needs to have moisture restored to just the right level in order to maximize its value and make it easier to bale.

Samuel B.’s son Samuel G. Jackson built on his father’s work, especially in the area of moisture content. In the 1950s, he founded Samuel Jackson Inc. in Lubbock. When he died in 2010, a reporter noted that Jackson’s products “have helped cotton growers increase crop value and improve profitability” throughout the world.

Today, his son, Samuel C. “Chris” Jackson, is in charge of the business. Chris and his engineers continue to improve on Dad’s moisture-control inventions and add more of their own. The equipment they manufacture is found throughout America’s cotton-producing states and everywhere from Australia to Brazil to India and nations in West and East Africa.

But it turns out that during the long, scorching-hot West Texas summers, Samuel Jackson employees had some “moisture control” problems of their own. And that’s where Big Ass Fans enter the picture.

Love at First Sight

At its Lubbock plant, 100% of the products bearing the Samuel Jackson label are assembled, tested and shipped. In winter, infrared natural-gas heaters keep things comfy even when temperatures outside are in the teens. Summer, however, was a different story. With temperatures in the mid-90s day after day, the heat inside the buildings made it very hard to work, Chris says. A/C wasn’t feasible given the roof height and square footage. The company tried mobile floor fans, but they were ineffective unless employees stood directly in front of them. The plant, says Chris, was a “forest of steel,” with machinery blocking the airflow. Employees resorted to frequent water and “brow-mopping” breaks.

Where productivity was concerned, the oppressive heat was a real ball-and-chain.

  • Chris Jackson's company makes machinery for controlling moisture in cotton. Above: Jackson walks with Rusty through some cotton fields outside his plant.

Chris was at a convention center in Galveston, Texas, around 2010 when he saw his first Big Ass Fan. His reaction, in the words of another Lubbock native son, Buddy Holly, was “Oh boy!” Chris instantly knew what he’d been missin’.

In Chris’ words, “I lusted after one really bad.”

Trying to be mindful of his company’s bottom line, Chris eventually found a 24-ft 2008 Big Ass Fan on eBay and had it shipped from South Carolina. But by the time he counted all his expenses, he realized he hadn’t saved much over a brand new one with full warranty. “I felt kind of stupid,” he admits. He told his Big Ass Fans contact that he’d learned his lesson and from that day forward would only buy new.

Chris has added four new Powerfoils in the years since, and he says he and his engineering team really appreciate the improvement.

In the assembly building, two Powerfoils keep things comfortable throughout the “forest of steel” when large machines are being put together. Another cools the packaging department, and most recently, one was installed in the company’s R&D center, home to regular trainings and demonstrations.

“We respect that each new Powerfoil is slightly different and better than the previous one ; we feel like we’re kindred spirits, since we try to always improve our equipment, too.” - Chris Jackson

During the long West Texas summers, Big Ass Fans keep employees at Samuel Jackson Inc. comfortable and productive. Chris says he fell in love with them the first time he saw them.

Big Ass Fans are “Not Optional”

Samuel Jackson Inc. saw instant improvement to both productivity and morale after installing Big Ass Fans. “The return on investment is crazy-high with those fans. Our production efficiency goes up beyond belief,” says Chris. In the hottest weather, he estimated the fans “double or triple what we’re able to produce”; under normal conditions, productivity is improved by 60 percent.

In other facilities, Big Ass Fans’ impact is not always as easy to quantify. But customers without exception rave about the benefits they see in terms of productivity and morale. In summer, Big Ass Fans make work much more pleasant where air conditioning isn’t feasible, and at a fraction of the cost where A/C is an option.

Chris’ youngest daughter once spent a summer in the assembly area at Samuel Jackson. One day, as Chris tells it, work on the building’s electrical service required that the fan be turned off for 30 minutes. “She came into my office drenched in sweat, just soaking from head to toe, and told me in no uncertain terms, ‘That Big Ass Fan? It’s not optional!’” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Big Ass Fans is proud to be able to help workers be more comfortable and productive at Samuel Jackson and thousands of other great companies across America and around the world.

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