James T. Pursell, Sr.
Pursell grew up in Talladega, Alabama, attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute and graduated in 1952 with a degree in business. After graduation, he spent four years in the Air Force as a bombardier/navigator during the Korean conflict. In June of 1953, Pursell married Chris Parker of Sylacauga.
Upon completing his military service in 1956, Pursell moved to Sylacauga to join his father-in-law, Howard Parker, in the fertilizer business. At that time, Parker Fertilizer focused on agriculture—making farm fertilizer, operating cotton gins and seed processing plants. One of Pursell’s first tasks was to market the company’s newest product, Sta-Green Fertilizer. The Sta-Green trademark became federally registered in 1959, and as its popularity grew, the company expanded into other parts of the country. In 1964, when Parker died, Pursell became president of the company and he began to phase out the agricultural operations and move further into specialty fertilizer. In 1985, the company built a sulphur-coated urea plant to make controlled-release fertilizer, one of only four in the world. By 1991, the company had built its first plant for producing POLYON®, its patented ultra-thin-plastic-coated fertilizer. In 1997, the consumer division was sold and the remaining portion of the company became Pursell Technologies Inc.
The Pursell family’s entrepreneurial aptitude led to the establishment of Pursell Farms, a 3,500- acre site in Fayetteville, Alabama and, in 2001, of FarmLinks, an 18-hole golf course featured as the world’s first research and demonstration course. Each year more than 1,000 golf course and nursery professionals visit FarmLinks for two to three days of learning and recreation where they see the finest and latest golf course innovations. FarmLinks is part of the national First Tee program, which affords children an opportunity to learn important life skills while learning to play the game of golf.
Pursell’s initiative and Christian principles have earned him many leadership positions and awards. He helped establish the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International and served on the board for many years. He served on and chaired the State of Alabama Ethics Commission for five years. For his contribution to the economy and welfare of the state, Pursell was presented the 1997 Alabama Farm- City Free Enterprise Award. Pursell received the annual Friends of the Extension Award in 2003. In 2005, Pursell was honored by the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award. From the Southern Nurserymen’s Association, he received the Slater Wright Memorial Award and the Pinnacle Award.
Pursell is active in a wide variety of philanthropic organizations and events including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In addition, he is active in his church and is a strong supporter of and contributor to Auburn University.
Pursell and wife, Chris, have been married 53 years. They have three children–Taylor, Chris and David–and 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.