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Texas Family Businesses Honored by Baylor at Annual Banquet

Nov. 2, 2004

By Erin Goff

Family businesses from across the state of Texas were honored Thursday, October 28 at the 15th Annual Texas Family Business of the Year Awards Banquet held at the Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Union building on the Baylor Campus.

Baylor University’s Institute for Family Business sponsored the competition that sought businesses that demonstrated a commitment to their community and strong business and family values.  More than 100 businesses were nominated for the contest and judges included family business consultants, advisers and principals of family firms.   

The banquet began with a greeting from David Allen, the director of the

John. F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship, who introduced the key-note speaker.

The evening’s address was given by Jay Mathis, a 1989 Baylor graduate who worked in the financial services industry, is a member of a family insurance business and the pastor at Grace Community Church.  In his speech, Mathis compared the change in business to today’s rollercoasters.

“Those [businesses] that are successful have learned how to let go of the bar, while those that aren’t are still clinging to their desk,” Mathis said.  Mathis also encouraged people to enjoy their work and make that visible to employees.  Another piece of advice that Mathis gave the businesses was to always contribute to the community.

“Always make your contribution to your community bigger than whatever you’ve received as an award,” Mathis said.

Following the address, Bill Petty, Director of Entrepreneurial Studies and one of five master professors at Baylor, recognized the finalists and winners of the competition.


Awards were given to a small, medium, and large family business, a business that exemplified family values, the fastest growing family business, a well-managed family business and a family business that stayed true to its founders. 

Wade Pennington and Sons Farm and Ranch, a three generation family business that’s produced watermelons, peanuts and fine angus cattle since 1941 received the family values award because of how the family works closely together and each member contributes in a different way.  At the age of 81, owner Wade Pennington is still active in the business and feeds the cattle each morning. 

“The reason we’re successful is because we love it and have someone to carry on the business,” Wade’s son, Troy Pennington said. 

The small family business award went to Washington County Tractor, Inc., a family business since 1939.

“It’s a privilege and a blessing for me to go to work every day,” owner Mark Jensen said.  “Working with my family is unique because we know one another and have a common vision.  We’ve been blessed and want to bless others through our business.” 

Throughout the evening it became evident that the businesses represented had a strong commitment to their families and enjoyed their work because of who they were surrounded by each day.  The family businesses were also recognized as a driving force in our country.

“Family businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Terry Manness, Dean of Hankamer School of Business said.  “I’m appreciative of what they bring to consumers like me.  It’s neat to meet the families who make this a great nation.” 

This year’s award winners are: Washington County Tractor, Brenham for small family business; The Expo Group, Irving for medium family business; Jim Coleman Company, Houston for large family business; Hi-Line Electric Co., Dallas for community commitment; Wade Pennington and Sons Farm and Ranch, Grapeland for family values; Empire Roofing, Fort Worth for well-managed; REDLEE/SCS Group, Dallas for fastest-growing; Peterson Beckner Industries, Dallas/Houston for founders.  Firms that received recognition as finalists in this year’s competition were: Bonus Crop Fertilizer, Bay City; Quik Pak Food Stores/Dameron Oil, Waco; Thermo/Probes, Inc., Houston. 

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