Early Texas Homes

After selling the farm we needed an office. One day I was on my way to San Antonio and as I passed Pflugerville near Austin I spotted the perfect office. It was a rustic cedar house with a porch that wrapped around two sides. I made a note of the location and when I returned a few days later I stopped and found it was a model home. The builder was selling shell homes. I found the owner about ten in the morning and asked about getting an office built in McKinney on acreage I owned. We talked and talked and he said he wanted to open North Texas. We had supper together and about 8 o’clock that evening we struck a deal. They would build a model home in McKinney at cost if I would sell their homes.

Early Texas Home: New Office

Ray Upton and his crew came up and, in about 30 days I had a new office. I started selling before they were through with the office. I just sat on the steps and sold as many as I could. They had been selling one house a quarter in Pflugerville. I sold six houses while they were building my model home office. People just loved that house with its big porch. The house sold itself, not me.

Things went fairly well for about a year until one day when I was driving west of Denton to check on a job and met the crew on the road. “Where are you guys going? They responded, “We haven’t been paid in three weeks and we quit.” I finally talked them into going back and finishing the house. I called Pflugerville and asked what the heck was going on. Their answer, “George we are broke. The Bank just locked up our office, so you better come down and salvage what you can.”

I told them I would be on the next plane and for them to meet me at the Austin Airport with the books and title to anything they had that was not hocked. I met them that afternoon and sure enough they were broke. With all my sales, they had bought a gang-nail plant, new ¾ ton 4 wheel drive pick-ups for themselves and big Cadillac for each of their wives. They had ignored the old rules of cash flow. Their gross income was increasing but their debt and expenses were increasing at a faster rate. Finally, they reached the point of no return!

I took the titles on everything that wasn’t hocked and flew back to Dallas. That night, Ray called and said he had not been paid in two months and did I have a job for him. He said he had enough money for gas to drive to McKinney but that was all. I told him to load the equipment which I had title to and come on up, he had a job as building superintendent. We did not even discuss salary. I had six houses under construction at the time with six crews on the job. I had to borrow money to finish them to keep our credibility, but we did. Ray took over and did a great job staying on top of all the jobs.

We had houses under construction from western Oklahoma to the Texas hill country and, he covered them all. I furnished Ray with a new Ford pickup each year and an expense account plus a good salary but, he earned every penny of it. For the next two years we sold and built 174 houses and made a good profit. I shared the profits with Ray and his wife Nellie who became my secretary. We paid the crews on a square foot basis.

I never intended on being in the house building business, but it turned out ok.