J&J Bagging is one of Yazoo's fastest-growing businessesBy CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,
One of Yazoo City’s youngest entrepreneurs has transformed a former empty building into a growing empire.
Joseph Mohamed saw a need in Yazoo County's agricultural business community, and in a few short years has built up an ever-expanding company that Yazoo City can be proud of.
Son of Joe and Donna Mohamed, Joseph was born and raised in Yazoo County. Aside from a businessman, he is the older brother of Mary Morgan and Crosby Mohamed, and is the proud husband of Abbye Davis Mohamed, and father of 16-month-old Reames.
Joseph is a 2011 graduate of Manchester Academy and went on to graduate from Mississippi State University in 2014 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Joseph said working for himself has always been on his mind.
"I did different things through high school, but the main thing was that we hauled scrap iron because scrap iron prices were up," he said. "During school at Mississippi State I worked a mechanical engineering job for Titan Engineering and Construction out of Gluckstadt."
It was while Joseph was completing his junior year at MSU that he heard of a need in Yazoo County. Some of the local agricultural companies in Yazoo City needed lime and had been buying it from outside the county in places as far as Vicksburg and Greenville.
Joseph immediately started to research the best places to buy agricultural lime.
"I called people all over the country looking for the right product and finally got hooked up with a company out of Alabama called Daily Ag products,” he said. “I became their distributor for Mississippi.”
While he was doing all of his research, Joseph was making business deals with some agriculture companies in town. Once he successfully secured enough business contracts with potential clients, he applied for and was awarded a business loan from the bank to get started.
"I had to prove to (BankPlus) that I had the sales to pay the loan back," Joseph said. "Thankfully Helena and CPS (now Nutrien Ag Solutions) stuck their neck out a little bit for me and did a signed contract on something that they have never had to contract before."
Joseph did so well as a lime distributor that one of the companies reached out and asked him if he would store a fertilizer product, package and bag it. Not one to turn down an opportunity, Joseph sought out the help of his soon-to-be father in law, Jim Davis, for help.
"I knew it was going to be quite a bit of a workload, and I needed some help with it," he said. "So he partnered with me, and we started J & J Bagging in March of 2015."
In order to properly meet the demands of their clients, Joseph and Jim purchased property in the industrial park on Highway 3 to start housing fertilizer products and lime, and soon added machinery for the bagging and packaging of these Ag products. Soon J & J Bagging took off, but Joseph was still listening to what the other companies were saying, and wanted to meet those needs as well.
"We started bagging fertilizer, and then that carried over to corn and then we started to tie in what we had locally by packaging and offering it to the co-op and farm store market," Joseph said. "We just started listening to (the other businesses) as far as what their needs were and from there just kind of filled their needs and offered the product that they were asking for, and that's developed into offering a full line of feed, seed, and fertilizer. Now we are getting into the distribution business as well."
Joseph said that when J & J bagging first bought their property from the county in 2014, the facility was meant to house the materials, and offered plenty of room to expand with low operating costs. However, the business took off so fast that it quickly became filled to capacity and J & J has had to expand more and more over the last few years.
"This building is 165,000 square feet, and we added on a fertilizer house back in the spring of 2017 to store bulk fertilizer in and that was another 15 or 20,000 square feet," Joseph said.
Running out space again, J & J built another 11,200 square foot building in their front parking lot in the spring of 2018, which now houses the lime products that they started with.
"We are talking about adding another 30,000 square foot building this spring to house a lot of the items that we are distributing," he said.
Joseph said that J & J Bagging is also about to close a purchase on another 20 acre plot of county land in the industrial park which backs up to the current property they already own.
"We have this expansion coming up for the spring and summer," said Joseph. "We are putting in some more manufacturing equipment to make our own feed pellets, and then we are putting in some grain storage as well."
Because of their success, J & J Bagging has reported a 50% growth from last year to this year, and currently have a goal another 50% in growth by next year.
J & J Bagging is an equal opportunity employer, and currently operates with 30 employees during the slow season of production.
"In the busy season, which is August to December, we have probably around 45 or 50 employees," Joseph said. "The fall and winter months are a busy season for us because we do a lot of wildlife products for hunting season. We do a lot of fall seed products like cover crop seed for row crop farms. We do a lot of winter grass and rye grass for cattlemen. We do 80 percent of our sales from August to December."
Joseph said that J & J Bagging does its best to offer its employees the best benefits they can, such as health insurance and other supplemental benefits, and are working on bringing in a 401K retirement program.
"We are another source of employment here," Joseph said. "We try to pay the best we can and try to be a good work environment, and I think a lot of people will attest to that."
Joseph said that investing in Yazoo City is good for the community, and encourages others to look for needs to meet here as well.
"When you get anything started, it's going to be a lot of work involved, especially when you are starting with little money," he said.
Joseph said that he would not be able to do all of this without the support of his wife, parents, and the rest of his family. The rest he said, is about having faith in God.
"Just work hard, trust in the Lord, and see what happens," he said.