November 2018
Co-op Matters

Service With a Smile

Jesse Hood loves his work and is a customer favorite at Central Farmers Cooperative in Faunsdale.

 

Jesse Hood went to work here in 1985 when this business was Tri-County Farm Center. After a while, the business merged with the Central Alabama Cooperative. Hood has been here through all these years.

In 1985, Jesse Hood started working at the Tri-County Farm Center in Faunsdale, Alabama. Hood would later see the business change two more times: first to Big B and then to the Central Farmers Cooperative. Through it all, Hood remained. Now after 33 years, he’s still there, helping his customers in any way he can.

The Central Farmers CO-OP in Faunsdale is known for its customer-friendly service, and longtime customers will quickly tell you that Jesse Hood is one of the main reasons. For Hood, customer service means just what it says: service! However, Hood adds two more important ingredients: a big heart and an even bigger smile!

Jesse Hood takes great pleasure in his loyal service with a smile. Another thing he prides himself on is the clean, neat warehouse he keeps. Here, bags of feed, fertilizer and seed are neatly stacked and organized, something that his customers appreciate. Many say finding what they need is much easier, because Hood works to keep everything customer-ready. Hood leaves floor space, so visitors can move easily among the stacks. He also keeps the floor area free of spills, dirt or debris.

Many times, customers come into the warehouse just to sit and talk. "My customers come to my warehouse a lot," he said. "I don’t want them coming into a dirty place. It’s like they’re coming to my house. It doesn’t matter what I have to do in the yard, I make sure my warehouse is clean."

Hood’s yard is just as neat and clean as his warehouse, with stacks of posts, fencing, animal feeding equipment, scales and much more. Every area is well organized and accessible. This helps Hood, as well as his customers, find things easily.

"My parents were always clean people," he explained. "They taught me the same way. I was always a neat person, because they expected that of me."

Hood uses a tow motor to load and unload pallets of bagged feed. He carefully moves pallets around this area to prevent damaging any bags of feed.

 

Hood takes on many duties at the CO-OP. If he sees that something needs to be done, he steps up to do it. When customers back up to the dock, Hood knows that they want their bags placed neatly in their trucks, so that they can unload them easily at home. Most important, they do not want the bags damaged in any way. Often, Hood loads an order and then drives the truck around to the front of the business, so that it’s ready for the customers when they finish their indoor business. One customer called this "valet parking with a smile at the CO-OP"!

Mike Eubanks is a longtime CO-OP customer, who runs a cattle farm southeast of Faunsdale. Eubanks has been coming to this CO-OP since it opened.

"Jesse gives you service you don’t expect," said Eubanks. "It’s a pleasure to go there. He’s always cheerful and in a good mood. He’s a hard worker and a good guy!"

Fleet Monroe, another customer who also owns a cattle business outside of Faunsdale, traded here before the business became a
CO-OP.

"I’ve known Jesse for a long time. He’s honest; he works hard; and he knows that CO-OP backward and forward. I tell everybody that if Jesse left that CO-OP would close!"

Hood laughed and explained it this way:" If you love what you do, you’ll be happy!"

Since the CO-OP sells both bulk and bag feed, farmers and ranchers come with larger trailers and purchase tons of feed at one time. This is when Hood relies on his trusty tow motor to pick up the heavy pallets. All during the day, Hood can be seen moving feed pallets around and checking to make sure he has what his customers need.

 

Jesse loads fertilizer for Mark Clemmer of Laneville. Clemmer builds ponds and often gets his supplies at the CO-OP.

The Central Alabama CO-OP also sells all kinds of fertilizers. Traditional bag fertilizers are available, as well as bulk orders.

"I blend all the bulk fertilizer," he stated. "I try to make sure all my customers are happy and satisfied. I always talk to them to be sure I’ve done what they needed. I try to treat all my customers nice, and they are always nice to me and tell me I do a good job. "

Hood is accustomed to working in the heat and cold because he has been doing it most of his life. He said he likes to be outdoors. He hopes to keep working as long as he is in good health.

"I love to work," he said. "It’s all I ever did."

Hood came from a family of hard workers. He had 12 brothers and sisters who were all very close. "My parents took care of all of us. They worked hard, and when I saw how hard they worked, I wanted to work hard for my family."

Hood said another reason he loves his job is that he works with such good people. He praised Tim Woods, who is the general manager of the CO-OPs in Selma, Demopolis and Faunsdale. Hood said Woods was a good person to work with. Bryan Monk has been the location manager of the Faunsdale CO-OP for the past five years. Hood said Monk had been like a brother to him, helping him in any way he could. He also praised Priscilla Johnson, who has been with the Faunsdale CO-OP for 14 years. Hood said it was a pleasure to work here because the three are like family.

Jesse and Cynthia Hood lived in Faunsdale and raised their children there. Three years ago, they moved to Demopolis. Jesse drives back to the CO-OP each day.

 

Jesse Hood has seen many changes through the years, both in the business and in the kinds of customers that now trade at the CO-OP.

"We have more farmers now," he stated. "Over the years, I have seen different kinds of farmers coming in, and our business has really picked up."

Hood quickly explained that "farmers" once meant just those who planted row crops. Today, farming is much more specialized. For example, catfish farming is huge in this area, and many of these farmers are customers at the CO-OP. Hood also sees more corn, wheat, cotton and soybean farmers, all planting on a larger scale than in the ‘80s. In addition, the CO-OP serves more cattle, horse, sheep and goat farmers, who come for feed and other supplies.

"I help farmers get what they need to grow food for everybody," he said proudly. "Without a farmer, we wouldn’t have food. "

Hood lived in Faunsdale, and raised his four children there, until three years ago, when he and his wife, Cynthia, moved to Demopolis. He graduated from A.L. Johnson High School in Thomaston. He drives from Demopolis each day, but he said he doesn’t mind the distance. He could not imagine working anywhere else.

Jesse Hood’s entire life has been steeped in faith. He is a member of the Praise and Worship Church, in Greensboro, where he plays the keyboard and serves as the church treasurer. He is often asked to speak at different churches, and many tell him his words are anointed.
For Jesse Hood, living a simple life is living a happy life. Faith, family and friendships, cradled by hard work and humility, are the guiding principles of his life. Not only does he help everyone, but he also makes each customer feel special.

In fact, Jesse Hood’s big smile has become the signature for good service at the Central Alabama CO-OP in Faunsdale, something every customer appreciates.

"I’ve seen ‘em come and I’ve seen ‘em go," he laughed, "but I’m still here."

And most important, he’s still smiling!

 

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..