Irrigation-Mart named as Chamber’s Business of the Year

The Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce has announced that Irrigation-Mart has been chosen to receive the 2021 Business of the Year award.

Nominations for the BOTY award are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: in operation for at least five years; evidence of generosity to the community; reputation for integrity and fair business practice; evidence of leadership within the community by the business and/or its employees; and evidence of innovative thinking and entrepreneurship.

Robbins Association was established in Ruston by Jackie and Betty Robbins in 1978 as one of the first companies in the United States to commercially promote a new technology known as microirrigation.  In 1989 it was incorporated as Robbins Association/Irrigation-Mart, Inc.  Today, Irrigation-Mart is a closely held, family-operated business with approximately 55 well-trained employees, including Certified Irrigation Designers, Technical Service Providers, Certified Crop Advisors, Agronomists, Landscape Horticulturalists, and Registered Professional Engineers.

Irrigation, and particularly agriculture irrigation, is the leading consumer of water worldwide.  Irrigation-Mart specializes in the design, sales and service of microirrigation technologies that apply low volumes of water uniformly and efficiently conserving inputs, and ultimately saving water and other resources for generations to come.  In doing so, Irrigation-Mart promotes technologies that reduce runoff and nutrient leaching, lowering contamination of soils and water sources from agricultural, forestry, nursery and turf/landscape practices.  They promote these technologies throughout the Mid-South and Southeastern United States, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

Irrigation-Mart may have been founded locally and started small, but its influence has grown and today they are recognized globally. Irrigation-Mart is one of the oldest, largest and most respected full-service irrigation distributors in the country.  This reputation is due largely to the influence of the principles of Jackie Robbins:  Honesty, Integrity, and Respect in all daily operations.   Since 2013, Irrigation-Mart has grown from a single location with about 30 full-time employees, to 3 locations (Ruston, LA (headquarters), Baton Rouge, LA, and San Juan (McAllen), TX) and 55 full-time employees.    

Jackie Robbins served as president/CEO of Irrigation-Mart from its inception until December 2013, when his sons were promoted. Jay was elected as president and Robin was elected vice president.  Jackie retired from the company during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020.  

During Jackie Robbins’ career he was involved in university level teaching, research and administration, and in national and international consulting. He was very involved with professional organizations such as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Irrigation Association (IA); for example, he served on the IA Board of Directors, the IA Certification Board of Governors, and the ASABE and the IA Standards and Codes Committees.  He was heavily involved in the development of the IA’s Certification and Education programs. He authored and co-authored many publications on irrigation, including “IRRIGATION” 6th Edition.  

In 2021, Jackie Robbins was awarded the Irrigation Association’s Industry Achievement Award.  This award recognizes an individual retired from an irrigation-related company whose career demonstrates outstanding contributions to the advancement of the irrigation industry and its products and programs. 

Jay has been very involved in the community during his career.  Locally, he has previously served as a member of the Ruston Jaycees and on the board of Waterworks District #3.  Jay also served on the Ruston Airport Authority for 11 years, serving as chair for five years.  Jay is an active member of Temple Baptist Church where he has served as a deacon and on several committees. 

Professionally, Jay has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Irrigation Association, has served on and chaired many committees both for the IA and for ASABE, and has received recognition as the Engineer of the Year from the Louisiana Chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. 

Irrigation-Mart supports both the Ruston and the National Chapters of National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Temple Baptist Church’s annual fireworks display and other outreaches, local school programs and many more community organizations, and by donating the use of some of their facilities for groups like Young Life and Temple Baptist Church’s College Ministry. Irrigation-Mart also sits on the North La Ag Business Council which promotes supports and educates local community about agriculture in Louisiana as well as conducting the annual North La Ag Expo.  

Irrigation-Mart encourages all of their employees to be active in community service and provides all full-time employees up to 40 hours annually of Humanitarian/Spiritual Development Paid Time Off.  This paid time off is separate from employees’ vacation or sick leave and is available to be used for efforts supporting disaster or humanitarian relief locally or abroad, or for spiritual development. 

This award will be presented at the Chamber’s 102nd Annual Banquet, title sponsored by Northern Louisiana Medical Center on January 25, 2022 at the Ruston Civic Center. Tickets for Chamber members are $50/individual or $400/table of 8; for non-members $55/individual or $440/table. Reservations can be made at www.rustonlincoln.org. The banquet is also sponsored by Origin Bank and Hunt, Guillot & Associates.


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