Wool Excellence Awards

Wool Excellence Awards

Mackenzie, Lunsford Honored for Service to Industry

Sheep Industry News Contributor

Two retired wool buyers, John Mackenzie of South Carolina and Doug Lunsford of North Carolina, received the 2014 Wool Excellence Award, sponsored by the American Wool Council’s Wool Roundtable.

Several producers, researchers and buyers stepped forward during the awards ceremony to praise the two men for their skill in evaluating wool and their integrity in dealing with producers from whom they purchased.

Rodney Kott, a recently retired sheep researcher from Montana State University, praised Mackenzie for his impact on the industry.

“The wool industry in Montana made a lot progress, and you were a major part of it,” said Kott. Ashley Bullock of Burlington said of Lunsford: “You always represented the wool industry with integrity. You did a phenomenal job representing both wool growers and Burlington.”

Lunsford, who filled various roles during his career.

According to Lunsford, his long career in wool began somewhat by accident when he went to work for Burlington Industries as a teenager in 1966. He worked for about a year in manufacturing, then went back to school to earn a two-year business degree.

“Then, in 1969, I went back to Burlington and worked at a few different jobs, including yarn making and in the wool warehouse and sorting areas.”

In 1976, Lunsford was pulled into the Wool Division of Burlington full-time and a year later found himself in Buffalo, Wyo., where he became a buyer, working directly with growers in western states. By 1988, Lunsford was buying wool for Burlington at warehouses in the central and western United States, eventually being named Manager of Wool Buying in 1990.

“I was buying, but I was also making projections and determining what we needed to buy here in the United States and from around the world,” said Lunsford. “I spent a lot of time traveling during that period, but I made some tremendous friends in the industry and I’ve always treasured that.”

Lunsford also has fond memories of his time working directly with the growers.

“It kept me away from home a lot, but the growers always made me feel at home,” he said. “To be honest, I enjoyed all of my experiences.”

Burlington and its Wool Division closed in 2000.

“The Wool Roundtable chose well when they selected Lunsford as the recipient of the Wool Award this year. It takes key individuals with hard work and integrity to build a successful industry and Doug definitely stands out in the crowd as being well deserving of this award,” says Rita Kourlis Samuelson, ASI’s wool marketing director.

Mackenzie, born and raised in Argentina, South America, was introduced to the sheep business early in life as his father managed a sheep station with 55,000 sheep where it took 40 days just to shear.

“Although my main preference, as a young man, would have been to become an airline pilot, I chose to go into the wool business so as not to worry my dear mother,” said Mackenzie.

Starting out as a trainee for Hart SAC in Buenos Aires, Mackenzie assimilated his knowledge of wool by traveling to other parts of the world like Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Belgium, England and the Falkland Islands. In 1947, Hart was Argentina’s main wool exporter and remained so for at least 20 years. After leaving Hart, Mackenzie worked as a wool agent and buyer for a variety of wool companies in South Argentina where he owned a small sheep ranch, was shareholder in a well-drilling operation and earned his pilot license.

“Immigrating to the United States as a 48 year-old man in 1987 with my wife and three children was challenging, yet also opened up other opportunities,” confided Mackenzie.

Upon arriving in the United States, Mackenzie spent 10 years as a wool buyer in Montana for Prouvost Lefebvre & Co. (now Chargeurs Wool USA). He appreciated working and reconnecting with wool growers as a buyer of wool pools in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota. A company restructure perpetuated Mackenzie’s acceptance of an offer to manage Cal-Wool Marketing Association in California.

“The wool business changed in a big way while I was with Cal-Wool,” continued Mackenzie. “We moved from selling all of our wool on the domestic market to selling both domestically and internationally.”

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