Earl Hall founded Kerman, California’s Hall Management some 55 years ago and has developed it into the state’s largest agricultural employer. He employs 4,000 workers on any given day, doles out a $3 million payroll each week and, over the course of a year, will manage crops, labor and 40,000 employees across some 600,000 acres. He’s also part of an investment group that purchased and is developing a 61,000-acre, crop-and-cattle endeavor on the island of Maui.
To say the least, Hall, who will celebrate his 80th birthday come January, is busy. And confident. And positively insistent on taking care of his people.
“I won’t tolerate workers not having their pay on time,” Hall asserted. “That is one of the most important things we need. I don’t want some head of the family, whether it’s dad or mom, to come home on a Saturday and go, ‘Kids, we don’t get to buy groceries this weekend because my boss didn’t give me my check.’ I won’t put up with that. You will get fired if that happens.”
To minimize the chances of such a mishap, Hall Management handles the task on its own.
“I have my own offices that handle invoicing and we do all of our own checks and payrolls in-house. I want control of everything, so I don’t outsource anything.”
To meet the needs of his workforce, Hall covers everything from owning nearly 2,000 portable restrooms and the trucks needed to transport them between farms and vineyards to providing health insurance to every one of his employees for free.
“I own my own health insurance company,” Hall stated. “I give each and every one of our workers free healthcare. No copayments. They only have to work 15 days to qualify and nothing comes out of their checks. They have an insurance card and they have contracts with doctors and clinics and some of the hospitals all over the state. Also, I have contracts with five hospitals in Mexico. Our workers, they don’t have to show any documentation or anything, they just show the Hall Insurance card and they’re taken care of.
“Our workers love it. They’ve got free healthcare. And the doctors and the clinics and hospitals love it because they’re going to get paid within seven days. Because I control the money. I own it.”
Hall Management benefits because it can rely on a healthy workforce. It also makes them very appealing as an employer.
“We have a reputation, naturally, and it’s a good reputation, so we have workers wanting to work for us. They come find us. And we’re in every county in the state of California.”
Despite his enormous successes, Hall, the son of a ranch manager in the Bakersfield area, did not envision the magnitude of his accomplishments.
“I kind of got into it accidentally,” he recalled. “Right out of college, I went to work for a doctor that wanted to buy a vineyard and I specialized in viticulture, and so I started developing vineyards for this doctor. A friend of mine, he had a contract to develop 2,500 acres of vineyard for a winery, so I went out there and helped him develop those and then I started having other companies call.”
A chain of events was set into motion that turned into Hall Management’s commercial care of everything from vineyards to tomatoes to coastal strawberries and, now, under the Hawaiian company MP Management, coffee, macadamia nuts, avocadoes and even cattle.
Personally, however, this agricultural magnate is not interested in the cattle business.
“The only cattle I want to own are the roping steers,” quipped Hall, who’s also a founder of the ACTRA.
Hall joined the PRCA as a header when he was 20 years old and has been a PRCA Gold Card member since 1991. He speaks fondly of winning Chowchilla in 2008 with his PRCA roper son-in-law, Todd Hampton, just a few years after winning the same rodeo with a friend in the business, and he revels a bit in his 1985 sweep at Turlock.
“I won first in the first go-round, I won first in the second go-round and, of course, I won first in the average. That’s pretty neat to win first in everything at a PRCA rodeo. All the top guys were there and the Camarillos and everybody came over and said, ‘Well, Mr. Hall, you beat us this time.’ I thought, ‘Yea, that’s pretty sweet.’”
None, however, may be as sweet as Hall’s love for the Clovis Rodeo, which he won in 2000 and was unanimously voted in to be Grand Marshall of in 2018.
“That was the first time in 15 years that the Grand Marshall rode his horse in the parade and in the all the performances, the Grand Entry. No one’s ridden their horse since,” Hall said proudly.
Not only was Hall able to perform his Grand Marshall duties ahorseback, but he also entered up to rope in Clovis’ Jackpot.
“I’ll compete a little bit,” explained
Hall, who’s endured some recent surgeries, “but I’m only [a few] months from 80 and I’ve slowed down. I was always a header, but I just couldn’t throw that rope anymore heading, so I tried to learn how to heel. I heel now. So, I’ll go out there and I’ll ride. We’ve got two guys who work there full time and they’ll have my horse ready. I’ll go out and somebody will turn two or three steers for me, so I’m still having fun with it.”
Not only is roping still Hall’s sport of choice, it’s also his vehicle to encourage up-and-coming ropers to seek out an education through the annual Earl Hall Scholarship Roping, which funds the ACTRA Scholarship program.
“I want the youngsters to know that, maybe you can make a living at roping, but maybe you can’t. And you need your education, whether you continue to be a professional roper or not.”
Hall, who’s college career involved three separate learning institutions and six years of taking classes while working, initiated the scholarship roping by paying for everything on his own.
“I paid for everything because there was no money paid out. Just prizes.”
Entry fees go directly to support the scholarship program, so Hall is quick to acknowledge the program would have never been a success without such willing ropers. Then, when sponsors reached out, wanting to play a role in the endeavor, too, the roping really found its legs.
“Sponsors started wanting to come on board, like Cactus people, they came on board. And then, the stock contractor started donating, like Tommy Lee now. He donates the cattle for the scholarship roping. I didn’t solicit any of that.”
The event became so popular, with around 400 teams, Hall was forced to limit how often ropers could enter. Regardless, the program, which benefits college students, remains a success.
“There’s a committee that chooses [the recipients], and I think we’ve gotten it to the point where everyone gets something,” Hall said. “The committee takes care of it and sends out the money and so on. And sometimes I’ll throw in some extra money if they come up and say, ‘Oh, we’ve got two more applicants and there’s not hardly any money left.’ Well, here’s a couple more thousand.
“I want them to college, or at least to go to junior college. But to go from high school into the roping world, thinking you’re going to make a living at it … some of them will. But I really want you to at least get an AA degree. Get a two-year. We’ve had quite a few go on through and get their degrees. So, I’m pretty passionate about it.”
Want more about college rodeo athletes moving up into the ProRodeo ranks? Check out breakawayropingjournal.com and read Making the Move: Stepping Up from College to ProRodeo