By SARAH KINZBACH
LONGEVITY, TRADITION, SUCCESS
The Brazos Valley has always fostered longevity. From the original Old Three Hundred settlers in the 1820s to the current influx of students and commercial growth, the region and its businesses have demonstrated how to withstand the test of time.
Before the roads were paved and while wagon wheels were getting stuck in mud, Brazos Valley was introduced to the likes of Anco Insurance (1873), The Eagle (1890), Holick’s Boots (1891) and Woodson Lumber (1913). Hillier Funeral Home (1918) and Martin’s Place Barbeque (1925) soon followed.
After landing in Bryan by accident, Joseph Holick quickly integrated with the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets as a cobbler and bugler. His interest in music eventually led him to start the cadet band. As the first bandmaster, Holick’s ties to Texas A&M were forever cemented in time.
While Joseph’s son, Johnnie, was studying music in Austin, he began working for a boot maker. Upon his return to College Station, Johnnie joined Joseph to expand from shoe repair to shoe and boot making. Holick’s success continued as the primary supplier of the Corps’ senior boots.
Today, 122 years later, Leo Belovoskey II owns Holick’s. After working for the Holick family for 15 years, Belovoskey was offered the opportunity to buy the shop. His goal – “To be around for as long as we can keep it around,” – is simple. Holick’s still supplies boots, belts and sabers to the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets and band.
A legacy began in December 1913 when brothers James Richard “Jim” Woodson and Harrie P. Woodson, Jr. purchased a lumberyard in Caldwell, Texas. 100 years later and Woodson Lumber has endured both World Wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and other national financial tsunamis. Woodson Lumber has not only survived but also has thrived. Now run by the third and fourth generations of the Woodson founding family, the company has seven locations serving the Brazos Valley and Central Texas: Caldwell, which remains the home office; Lexington; Bryan; Brenham; Groesbeck; Mexia; and Buffalo.
“The key to our success has been slow and steady growth and product diversification through the long run,” says Kate Woodson Chapman, fourth generation and director of marketing and history. “We try and stay away from fad trends to see what is really going to stick around, which ensures that we do, too.”
As a family and generational business, Woodson has created a pinnacle of example. Strong family values correlate into the same company values.
“Our family believes that there should be no change in behavior or relationships whether at home or in the workplace,” says third generation CEO Ann Woodson Yager Chapman. Ann’s sons, Stuart Chapman and Philip Chapman, work alongside their mother and sister, Kate, to continue the family legacy at Woodson.
“We strive to always take care of each other, and to always go the extra mile to make sure that everyone who is part of Woodson Lumber succeeds,” says Ann. “We continue to improve our communication with each generation in the business and at home to ensure we always perform to the best of our abilities.”
Recalling business wisdom bestowed upon her from her father, Ann says he responded, “’Come to work every day.’ Of course I thought he was pulling my leg with the dry humor he was so full of, but after nearly 20 years of being here I now know that was some of the best advice I could have ever received.”
Hillier Funeral Home
For 95 years, Hillier Funeral Home Bereavement & Cremation Specialists, has served the Brazos Valley community with compassion. Their secret to success – “Taking care of the community,” – includes giving back to the community, says Kyle J. Incardona, manager and partner of Hillier.
Last year alone, Hillier gave $100,000 back to the community in scholarships and grants, to churches and charities, while also supporting community events. “It’s remarkable for a small business,” says Incardona. “It goes back to building the community and being part of your community.”
The community has given back to Hillier, as well. After 95 years of business in Bryan, Hillier is opening a second location in College Station becoming the Bereavement and Grief Specialists of the Brazos Valley. The new designation required additional education for staff and allows Hillier to better serve the community in the time of grief and need, says Incardona. In the last year, Hillier also expanded their services to include concierge funeral care. As the only concierge bereavement service, Hillier provides everything from personalized shopping for the family to pet care to house cleaning during periods of bereavement in addition to traditional funeral arrangements.
“I challenge other businesses to give back to the community,” says Incardona. “Our community is growing at a massive rate, and we have an obligation to give back.”
Martin’s Place Barbecue
Opened in 1925 by Martin Katchinskie, Martin’s Place began as a corner shop selling gas, groceries and barbeque. In 1939, growth and success led to the “new,” and current, location. Now run by Martin’s grandson, Steve Katchinskie, the meat is still cooked with the same tradition and in the same original pit.
“I grew up cooking and started helping my dad when I was 12,” says Katchinskie. “I’ve been keeping up the tradition.”
Tradition it is with a barbeque pit circa 1939 and meat cooked right over the coals. Katchinskie still uses oak wood for cooking and has customers that have been visiting since the 1940s.
“We get a lot of the old-time Aggies from the ‘30s and ‘40s for the games,” says Katchinskie, “They say it still tastes the same!”
Word of mouth and keeping the experience simple is the foundation of Martin’s success where pictures spanning nearly 90 years of Bryan, College Station, and Texas A&M history decorate the walls.
Martin’s journey is already looking toward the future. Katchinskie says he aims to keep the barbecue pit aglow and eventually pass the restaurant on to his daughter. “It’s just keeping the same tradition.”