Their Grass is Greener
If your idea of the perfect lawn is lush green grass—the kind that beautifies property and softens the ground for child’s play; then you will appreciate Beck’s Turf Farm.
Tucked in a cocoon of nature along County Road 53, this business is blessed with the right conditions to thrive. The soil at the 1,000-acre property is sandy clay loam. The location is spitting distance from Interstate ramps. The employees are hardworking and dedicated. And the owners are smart, ethical and principled. They believe in, “Doing the right thing, taking care of our employees and taking care of our customers.” This philosophy is the foundation for their success according to Jimmy Bassett, who purchased Beck’s Turf Farm in 1994 in partnership with his brother, Wayne Bassett.
2014 marked the 20th anniversary of their ownership of Beck’s Turf Farm. Prior to this venture, Jimmy was a vice-president and senior loan officer at First National Bank in Union Springs, Alabama. He and Wayne, who worked at a sod farm, wanted to have a business of their own and jumped at the opportunity to acquire Beck’s Turf Farm. Martin Beck founded the business in 1938.
Keeping the name was an excellent decision. When the national economy nosedived a few years ago, the Bassett brothers weathered the storm partially because of the name recognition and longevity of Beck’s Turf Farm. “A lot of sod farms went out of business but we kept going. People knew Beck’s as a place with an excellent product.”
They grow zoysia, bermuda and centipede grass turned into sod, which is grass plus the soil beneath it held together by the roots or a piece of thin material. The new sod “needs no special care because it is a healthy mature lawn when it is installed.” They sell to “landscapers, building contractors and anybody that wants to buy grass,” says Jimmy who adds, “Our biggest markets are Atlanta and Birmingham. We also have a lot of customers in Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Montgomery. Really our territory is within a 150-mile radius.”
Under their leadership, the business has maintained its outstanding reputation and their sod is known for its exceptional quality. They say sod is a good investment because it “cools and cleans the atmosphere, releases oxygen, stores carbon, breaks down other harmful pollutions, enriches the soil, helps to minimize dust, provides substantial erosion control, helps ground water recharge and minimizes storm water runoff.”
Tending to the operation is a year-round enterprise that requires the land to be fertilized, irrigated, weeded and mowed. The grass is lifted from the ground using sod harvesting machines that cut in 16x24 slabs and 42-inch wide rolls. Delivery to customers requires truck drivers and maintaining the fleet requires shop mechanics.
About 40 employees work at Beck’s Turf Farm. They are paid well and receive a generous package of benefits. Also, there are monthly employee lunches and other activities that ultimately contribute to healthy employee morale.
Showing respect and appreciation to employees is a priority to the owners. Jimmy says, “We’re like one big family out here. Some of our employees have been with the company for 20, 30 and 40 years.”
“I just love working here,” said 60-year old Eddie Stinson, a certified chemical sprayer who also performs a variety of other services at Beck’s. Stinson is a Tuskegee native who has worked for Beck’s since 1975. “I worked for the original owners for about 15 years and stayed on when Jimmy and Wayne bought the business.” He adds, “They treat us real good. We get Blue Cross and 401(k) and we get bonuses twice a year — the 4th of July and Christmas. They are two of the nicest guys you could ever meet.”
Many people feel that way including Joe Turnham, Executive Director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority. Turnham says, "Jimmy and Wayne Bassett are a Macon County treasure. Not only are theymodel businessmen, a leading Macon County employer and super neighbors, they are always ready to assist with any economic development task from hosting delegations to offering properties for development.”
And Turnham has even more good things to say about the Bassett brothers. “They have enormous respect from community leaders, high ranking elected officials and are known throughout the business, agriculture and financial world as being of the highest integrity. Having the Bassett's on your side is half the battle won."
Several years ago the Bassetts built a cabin that is used for entertaining employees and customers—especially prized by people who like to hunt and fish. They also carved out 25 acres of their spread for a nursery called “The Wildlife Group” that produces nut and fruit bearing trees.
Their entrepreneurial spirit has fueled other projects including publication of a magazine featuring experts writing about the land, food production, animal habitats and animal behavior. The Bassett brothers produced “Wildlife Trends Journal” in partnership with legendary coach Pat Dye. It was sold and is now published by Andy Whitaker.
Kindhearted and down to earth, they are highly valued corporate citizens in Macon County who have the right touch when it comes to sod, sensitivity and success.
Contact Beck’s at 800-288-4291/334-724-9300 or visit www.becksturf.com
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