From the time Robert Nimocks II, bought a used Farmall 560 tractor and the dealer gave his son, Robert “Bobby” Nimocks III, a pedal-powered replica, Bobby wanted to be a farmer. The 1958 Farmall 560 came with some type of cotton-harvesting mechanism, but Grower’s Equipment, Co., in Forrest City, Ark., took it off before the senior Nimocks brought it home.
With the front two wheels of the 60 hp tractor wobbling back and forth, Bobby’s dad, known as Mr. Bobby, could plant the straightest rows around Clarks Corner, Ark. “When I was old enough to drive it, my rows were so crooked, they would break a snake’s back,” laughs Bobby Nimocks, who folks called “Little Bobby.” “My first job farming at 11 years old was standing on a plank attached to a planter so I could monitor the seed levels in the hoppers.”
The GI Bill funded Mr. Bobby’s college education at the University of Arkansas. After meeting the love of his life, Joyce, the couple cobbled together 900 acres of land (640 acres of it leased) and started farming. “Dad was dedicated to farming, but times were tough and there were years when margins were just too lean. He soon realized farming wasn’t going to pay the bills while trying to put four kids through college,” says Nimocks.
When the elder Nimocks finally got out of farming, anything the man who took over the operation didn’t want was sent to auction. The Farmall 560 was put on the auction block and purchased by a farmer in Hughes, Ark. “My dad became a very successful municipal bond salesman and wrapped up his career as a stock broker for EF Hutton.”
Nontheless, young Bobby pursued an Ag Engineering Technology and Business (AETB) degree at Mississippi State University. Some of Bobby’s close friends called his major Advanced Tractor Driving. By 1980, Bobby’s father convinced him that with soybean prices tanking and farmers quitting left and right, this was no time to farm. Nimocks buckled down, taking 24 hours per semester to earn an accounting degree, in addition to the AGTB degree.
Harvard, Business and Back to Arkansas
Nimocks became successful in international business after earning his MBA from Harvard. From handling acquisitions of North American agricultural entities and energy companies for an Australian-based agri-business company, to establishing his own multi-faceted company specializing in market-development for energy companies expanding their natural gas sectors, Nimocks’ career pulled him far from the farm.
Offshore oil excavations were expanding in West Africa, Northwest Australia, and South America where crude oil pumped from the ground often contained natural gas. “We would help companies find markets for that natural gas, and by doing so, enabled them to book the reserves and improve their balance sheets,” explains Nimocks, whose wife, younger brother, sister-in-law and son all matriculated at Harvard. “My son, Robert Mitchell IV works in private equity in New York, but like his ole man, loves the Delta.”
Nimocks, now 58, sold the energy portion of his company, Zeus Development Corporation, in 2014 and has re-focused on his first love – the Arkansas bottoms. He has purchased the land his dad farmed and added other tracts. He and his wife’s niche is marginal farm and timberland that often comes with dilapidated structures, or other unique facets like lakes or sloughs.
They like land that offers a second element, like hunting, or maybe an historical structure that can be restored, rejuvenated or preserved. Thus far, he has renovated four historical structures; a commissary, a Chitlin’ Circuit juke joint where BB King and Albert King played, a World War II Quonset Hut, and a turn-of-the-century cottonseed house. He has also established two hunting clubs; Old Casteel for deer and turkey, and Mallard Corner, for waterfowl. “It’s a joy bring these old relics back to life,” says Nimocks. “When the community hears you’re saving a treasure, people come out of the woodwork to help you.”
The Old Farmall 560
Nimocks was able to track down the Hughes, Ark., farmer who bought his father’s old Farmall 560. “I really wanted to buy it back from the farmer, but he wasn’t selling,” remembers Nimocks. “Years later someone told me the farmer has passed away and his widow would sell it for a queen’s ransom, and I didn’t hesitate.”
With three years of hedgerow growth shrouding the tractor, Nimocks asked Stan Sims to take on the refurbishing project. Sims worked as a diesel mechanic for Roadway Trucking Co., in Memphis. Any parts that could not be found Sims had custom made. The deadline they were shooting for completing the project was Thanksgiving 2016.
Sims had the engine block sandblasted and all cylinders retooled. He installed a new water pump, sand blasted, powder coated, and painted the wheels. “It took me 14 months to complete the restoration, but it was a true labor of love,” says Sims, who today is proud to have Bobby as a close friend thanks, in part, to the admiration they share for Farmall engineering. “When you talk to Bobby, he absorbs you. He’s very genuine and has a way of making you feel like you are longtime friends.”
The restored tractor is a center piece during any parties, or “hoe downs” as Nimocks likes to say, that are held at the old restored shotgun house. “People just love getting their picture taken on it, or next to it,” adds Nimocks. “The fire-engine red color and sound of that diesel is nothing short of magic!”
Although the career and educational journey Nimocks undertook carried him away from Clarks Corner, Ark., his appreciation, love for his family, his friends and his heritage are summed up in the title of an old Merle Haggard song, “The Roots of My Raising Run Deep.” It is from those roots that Bobby Nimocks will forever draw the strength that he needs.