“I spent a week dealing with them and developed a pretty good relationship,” Cook says. “We really became good friends. So, two or three years down the road, Buzz called me out of the blue and said ‘I know you’re used to working with these big companies, but I wonder if you’d consider working with us.’
“I went up there and came back and told my wife ‘This is the ultimate challenge, to take a company that needs your help badly,’” he says. “Plus, I liked Buzz and I liked Cody, so I told them ‘Yes.’”
Since then, Cook says, he’s had no regrets.
“You know, it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, because it has been a rewarding decision.”
On Board at All-Tex
Those first years with All-Tex were dicey, Cook says, because the company was running behind in adapting new technology, and sales had started to wane as a result. He set about fixing that problem as quickly as he could, and soon found himself pitching in wherever needed.
“Going into something that was scary, everybody just pitched in and did whatever they had to do, work wise,” he recalled. “It didn’t matter what facet of the business you worked in. At All-Tex, if you needed to help someone, you did it. It taught all of us a lot, because everybody had to learn a little bit about what everybody else’s job was.”
Cook pitched in where needed, often assisting Richard Percival in selling seed in South Texas. They were successful, and the seed company began to re-establish a foothold in the state. The success allowed Cook to get down to his life’s work of breeding cotton. He set about establishing an identity for All-Tex, one that focused heavily on fiber quality.
“We put a very high emphasis on high fiber quality back then, and we still do,” Cook said. “So when we first came out with varieties like Edge and Dinero, then we came with Nitro 44, those were varieties I’m very proud of. Nitro 44, in particular, had fiber quality that raised the bar.”
Cook says he wants to make that characteristic – fiber quality – his personal contribution to the cotton industry.
“My whole goal is for them to have new standards on fiber quality,” Cook stated. “I want my cottons to be off that map. And it’s going to happen.”
But he and All-Tex aren’t focusing on that one trait alone. The addition of Dyna-Gro has brought new germplasm into the fold. And CPS has provided a wealth of resources and capabilities to Cook’s breeding efforts.
“In addition to fiber quality, nematode resistance, seed quality and seedling vigor, we are also placing additional emphasis on Verticillium wilt, which is a pretty serious issue in West Texas,” Cook said.