What is in this article?:
- Billy McLawhorn reflects on 30 years as a North Carolina crop consultant
- Started business in 1982
- Requirements of a consultant
• With the full support of his then new wife, Martha, McLawhorn started his consulting business in 1982.
• By 1985, he says, it was doing well enough that Martha came to work with him full time.
• “After that it seems like personnel issues went away and we have been fortunate to work with high quality, dedicated people throughout our business life,” McLawhorn says.
AFTER 30 years in the consulting business New Bern, N.C., consultant Billy McLawhorn says agriculture is a great place to work.
Started business in 1982
With the full support of his then new wife, Martha, McLawhorn started his consulting business in 1982.
By 1985, he says, it was doing well enough that Martha came to work with him full time. “After that it seems like personnel issues went away and we have been fortunate to work with high quality, dedicated people throughout our business life,” he adds.
But back in 1982, figuring out how to get into the agriculture consulting business was a real challenge. “There just weren’t many full-time consultants in North Carolina back then — mostly just a few scouts, who did other things when crops weren’t in season,” he says.
When McLawhorn was finally ready to enter the business, he found out that Fate Thompson, then a professor of weed science at North Carolina State University, was starting a company he called American Agricultural Services. It was a forerunner of Crop Quest and other large, agriculture consulting companies.
It was a company set up to help crop consultants find clients and helped train them in both the production and business end of consulting.
“Each consultant paid a percentage of their fees to be an affiliate of American Ag. We wholly owned our company, but had the advantage of being affiliated with a North Carolina-based company that included such well known agriculture experts as Thompson, S.N. Hawks, and Astor Perry,” McLawhorn says.
McLawhorn was the first American Ag affiliate and after a few jumps and starts, his 30-year career in agricultural consulting was launched.
“It was strictly by chance that Fate Thompson started his company at the precise time I needed the support American Ag provided,” he adds.
The concept of a science-based agricultural consultant was all together new, but at the time McLawhorn and Goldsboro, N.C., Consultant Danny Pierce were among a very few college trained consultants in the state.
“When we were back in college, some of us thought we invented the concept, but in reality, in other parts of the country, there were a number of college-trained, licensed crop consultants,” he says.