From working the fields as a farmhand to climbing the ranks of the professional industry, University of Georgia alumnus and 40 Under 40 Class of 2020 honoree Jason Faircloth (BSAE — Agricultural Engineering, ’05) understands the value of innovative and inspirational leadership within the Bulldog community and beyond.
“My early experience as a teenager growing up in the southern part of Georgia left me with the impression that agriculture is the industry that rules everything in that area,” said Faircloth. “When I came to college, I wanted to choose a major that differentiated me from everyone else in my immediate circle but eventually gravitated back to my roots to pursue a degree in agricultural engineering.”
Faircloth now serves as vice president of sales for the Southwire Company, a top manufacturer of electrical wire and cable.
Hailing from the small city of Moultrie in southwest Georgia, Faircloth traces his inspiration and work ethic back to a strong association with the family and cultural values he has experienced throughout his life.
“Growing up, many relatives were involved in various aspects of production agriculture and developing that meaningful connection with them at an early age became a big part of who I was as a person,” said Faircloth. “From hunting and fishing to other outdoor activites, the passion for agriculture was naturally ingrained.”
As a young man, he spent the majority of his summers out in the blistering south Georgia heat, scouting cotton fields and harvesting cantaloupe and watermelon in neighboring towns. In addition to his hands-on farming experience, he began to build a background in sales by working at an agricultural chemical retail store that specialized in fertilizer and crop protection solutions.
His combination of enthusiasm and amiability helped him maintain a trajectory for success during his time in college, connecting him with various student organizations and on-campus groups. His experiences taught him how to be an ambassador for agriculture among peers from different backgrounds.
“Because I knew the importance of agriculture at a young age, I had to learn where those knowledge gaps existed in our society,” said Faircloth. “Not everyone grew up the way that I did and I had to learn about the stigmas of showing up to a chemistry class of 300 people with dirty jeans and boots on. But embracing these stigmas allowed me to be a better ambassador to my peers.”
Faircloth continues to spread his knowledge in the industry and urges alumni to recognize the importance of staying connected with the university through various programs and initiatives.
Since graduating, he has served on boards for numerous alumni and community groups, including CAES and Alpha Gamma Rho, the agricultural and social fraternity. He currently serves on the board of Open Hands United Christian Ministry in Carrollton, Georgia, which raised $550,000 in a few short months to build a state-of-the-art facility to serve families who are food insecure and financially struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of his primary goals is to give back to students by being a resource and advocate for future success and career-building.
“Pursuing a career path is about more than just obtaining a degree,” said Faircloth. “The next level of defining that path is figuring out what type of lifestyle to pursue and learning how to establish the desired work-life balance. These factors have shaped my decisions in every role that I have had. If students get a head start on answering those questions by interacting with different industry professionals, it is easier to develop an outline for early success.