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Living the American Dream in Texas

September 20, 2010
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John Conrad

DISCLAIMER: I know a guy named Joe and I was planning to write a classified ad for him. However, before I do, I have to tell you about a small company in West Texas.

Joe Hall has lived the American dream in Olton, Texas. He went to work at Jeffrey Lumber Co. in 1951 right out of high school, and ended up buying the company in the mid-1970s. Now, at the age of 76, he is looking to pass that business on to someone else with an American dream.

As president of Hall Lumber Co., Hall oversees a company that includes lumber, hardware, ready mix concrete, along with contracting work for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical.

Hall’s life story is not all that unusual for guys that grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. If you worked hard, learned a trade, and “kept your nose clean,” there were opportunities to grow and prosper in a small town - especially in West Texas about 35 miles from Lubbock. Hall learned the carpentry trade while working at the lumberyard and left the company to start his own construction firm in 1962. He continued to do business with the folks at Jeffrey Lumber until 1976, when he and his brother learned that the owner was ready to retire. They were able to get a Small Business Administration loan, and an American dream was born. They renamed it Hall Lumber Co.

The contracting part of the business came about in the 1980s. Hall obtained his air conditioning contractor license and also became a master electrician. Over the years the air conditioning business has grown nicely. Hall said, “16 SEER a/c units are our bread and butter.” He could put in just about any brand of equipment, but he installs mostly Rheem equipment. I asked him why, and he had to think about it for a minute, and then simply said, “I guess it’s because of the service I get from my distributor, Airco Inc.”

Tim Guilliams, president of Airco Inc., has been working with Hall Lumber since the early ’80s and from his perspective, “Hall Lumber is a rewarding business because of the interaction with the community, and the ability to provide services that are not available within a 50 mile radius.”

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR

Hall and his wife/co-worker Betty talk about the people that work at the company like they are family. Orillia Aldape is the manager of the lumberyard and according to Hall, “When she tells me to jump, I say how high.” Hall’s partner Ronnie Digby does “anything and everything.” He’s a cabinet builder, is certified to handle refrigerant, and does most of the a/c service work. Then there is their bookkeeper, Sanny Jimenez, and Constansio Rosales who has been with Hall for over 30 years. Rosales takes care of all the equipment including the cement trucks and the back hoe.

When asked what made his business unique, Hall simply said, “It’s still there.”

Upon further probing, Hall shared that Olton is a special place where there is a lot of pride in the community. “We keep the city clean and neat, and it’s just a good place to live and raise a family.”

Running a business in Olton is different. It’s the perfect fit for an All-American Joe. Hall knows there is another American dreamer out there, but he also doesn’t hesitate to offer some worldly advice to the next owner, because, you see, Hall knows just about everybody that comes into Hall Lumber. “You just don’t turn your back and walk away from a customer,” said Hall, “It may take 20 minutes to make a $5 sale and that’s just part of it.”

Joe Hall has lived the American dream, but he said, “It’s time to slow down, and that’s all there is to it.”

So, there is the story of a small business, in a small town.

The HVAC industry has provided a lot of opportunities for a lot of people to fulfill their dreams. Have you thought about owning a small business of your own? Have you dreamed about raising your family in a small town where everybody sticks together? Joe Hall found his answer in a lumber company in a small town in West Texas.

It’s nice to meet dreamers in this business. Any more out there?

WANTED: All-American Joe to continue building the American Dream. Call 806-285-2393.

Publication date: 09/20/2010
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