Jim Chionsini

 

chionsini

Dec. 29, 2010, Schleicher County, Texas.

  I’m Jim Chionsini. I was born May 19, 1946, and I started in the newspaper business on March 2, 1970, for Mr.    Les    Daughtry in Galveston, Texas.  And, who I had met the previous week on the golf course, and I was hanging out  there  because I ran out of money going to college.  So that’s what I was doing and I was lucky enough to meet him and  Billy  Tuma and Wade Parker and Brad, oh, anyway, the editor they had at that time. I forget, well, lost that.  But  anyway, I  spent eight years with the Walls Group in Galveston, Laredo, Northern Maine, Rosenberg, uh, Beaumont,  Rosenberg,  and LaMarque.  So I moved around quite a bit and …

 

 

WGC:  Was that your first newspaper job?

JC:  It was. It was.  And I – actually I grew up in LaMarque and my father had a machine shop and that’s where I, that’s where I grew up in that business. And then I went in the Navy and when I got out of the Navy I went back in the machine shop business but I really hated it and I didn’t know what I was gonna do.  But anyway, when I met Mr. Daughtry he was just, he just influenced my whole life, changed my whole life and …

WGC:  And Les Daughtry, Senior, was the publisher—

JC: Yeah.

WGC:  …of the Galveston

JC: He was.

WGC:  …Daily News?

JC: He was.  And we, until his death or until he got sick we remained partners in different places and I loved that and I loved working for the Walls and my, the Hartmans and all that, I mean, that’s…Really, they… you know, that was the people that really changed my whole, where I was going with my life.

WGC:  So what did you do in Galveston?

JC: Well, I sold ads and then Les got me into a little management training deal and then they needed somebody to run the classified department in Laredo and he asked me about it and I said I’ll go.  And he said, “Well, anywhere else we’d let you do that, but you don’t have to go to Laredo. We don’t,” he said, “ I don’t want to have that on my conscience.”  But anyway, rode down there it looked great and I really, really liked Laredo a lot.  I mean it was a, back in the early 70s. It was a fun, probably a little too much fun, but it was a really fun place to live and work for the paper. And I worked there as classified manager and then as kinda the assistant publisher.  And …

WGC:  And who did you work for there?  Who was the publisher?

JC: Jim Hale.  Jim Hale was the publisher.  And that’s one of the things that I always felt fortunate in my career is I got to work for different type people. Les Daughtry who was great on advertising and people, he just had a charisma about him. Then I got to work for Jim Hale who was a wonderful editorial writer and journalist and a great businessman, and then the Hartmans. But I got a really good, varied, like… Mr. Daughtry’s theory was, you know, if you just bring in enough money everything else will handle it, handle themselves. And then, but Jim Hale’s was exactly the opposite. He was very frugal because he came from that side. And so I always just tried to balance that out.  And that’s really what I got from Mr. Hartman and from Bill Hartman along with a little humor from them, and Jim Hale, especially.

But I felt fortunate because I got to work for very different people that were, had real different personalities and knowledge and what I tried to do was get the best from all of those people. And that’s what I did.  And you know other people that, Ben Smith, was a very, and he helped me buy my first newspaper, not financially but he used his name because I’d have to finance it, you know. But he helped me with that and helped me set everything up. And he was just a gut-it-out kind of guy. He just would, he just wouldn’t quit. So those individuals really kinda, and Jim Boone some, but really those were the really people that changed where I was going and helped me learn what I do.

WGC:  So you started out in advertising sales…

JC: Uh-huh.

WGC:  With no previous newspaper experience.

JC: None.

WGC:  So what do you think prepared you to be a successful ad man and newspaper man?

JC: Well, you know, I don’t know.  I think there was just something that, you know, I just took to that business, you know, and I wanted to learn all aspects of it.  The production end was pretty easy for me to learn because I was raised in a machine shop. The ad sales was easy because that’s just the kind of personality I have. The business end of it was not too bad, not too hard, because I’ve always been pretty good with numbers. But the writing part of it is what was tough for me, and what I worked on. And I still don’t consider myself a journalist, but I can write a decent story and I can tell the difference in a good story and not a good story and I know what I feel like our little papers, you know, what we try to do with them.

Mr. Hartman probably said it better than anybody in his way, was that when I first was gonna become publisher of LaMarque Times, which was the first weekly paper I ever ran, was you know a person gets their name in the paper when they’re born and when they die and “your job son, is to see how many times you can make that happen between those two events.” And so I kinda used that, plus I learned early on that the schools were the franchise in these little papers, that you have to cover the schools. And so that’s what we do.  All our papers are totally autonomous editorially, I’ve never told somebody to write a story or not write a story. I’ve sent some columns and asked them to write them but under my name and, but that’s something I also learned from Mr. Walls because he never did that either, you know. You may have heard this story, this is just us talking, but you know, he had some papers in Alabama, some daily papers and he was a bitter enemy of George Wallace. Do you know this story?

WGC:  Please tell it.

JC: Well anyway, he was running the Montgomery paper and all the rest of his six or seven other daily papers in Alabama endorsed George Wallace. He didn’t.  He was terribly,  a bitter enemy of George and what he stood for. But that really impressed me that, he would have had the power to, every one of his papers, to not to do that. And that, I mean, in my opinion, none of them should have endorsed him, but that’s my personal feeling.  But I was, I got a lot of respect for him when I heard that story.  So that’s the way we’ve done it, right or wrong.  The publishers, you know. Gary Borders is a great friend. Richard Stone is a great friend.  I’ve had more fun working with Richard and Gary as editors and they are absolutely on the other side of the political view as me. But I love them and I love working with them and it was never boring, you know. Gary Borders is back working with us again which we’re real excited about.

WGC:  Well, tell us about the papers. Tell us about your organization now. Tell us what it’s called and what properties you have and where they’re spread out across the state.

JC:  Okay. Well, you know it started. —  I bought my first one in ’78, 1978, it was in Center, Texas. And we built up a group and we had Center, in East Texas. We had Center, St. Augustine, Hemphill, and then we had Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and a few in Oklahoma, Weslaco down on the border, one in Western Kansas.  So we were kinda spread out and then things changed and so we kinda regrouped and then started over again in the middle 80s. I sold that to Ben Smith’s son, no, Pat Smith’s son, who worked for Ben. And they’re still and he ultimately sold to Ben’s son.  That where I was trying to get to.  But they’re still in operation, doing well I think.

And then in the middle 80s, I took off a couple of years and goofed off. And then in the middle 80s, things got really good again and I bought the papers in Ripley, Mississippi, and then one outside of Memphis and some others and I had a partner at that time named Albert Thompson, who’s still a tremendous friend. I saw him a couple of weeks ago and I’ll see him again next week. But we started buying them here and we bought Fort Stockton, Alpine, uh, Madisonville and Sealy and Gonzales and then he said “Man, I think I’m, this is kinda going a little too fast for me.”  So anyway, I sold him the Mississippi stuff and I kept the Texas stuff. And after Gonzales, then we bought Marlin from Jim Boone and Boerne, bought from Mr. Dozier. We bought Boerne and Bandera and then, and this all happened pretty quickly. And I had a great old assistant named Nona Bailey and she retired a few years ago, but when she first came to work for me she said, “All I want to do is be off on Wednesday afternoon because I have a Bible study.”  Well things kept getting faster and faster and so I knew when I was pushing too hard because she’d have the religious channel up real loud. But I love her to death and she knows more about me than I know about me.  And tomorrow’s her birthday.

But anyway, and then in ’93 we bought the Taylor group which included the Taylor Daily Press, the Hill Country News in Cedar Park, Thorndale, little papers, Thorndale, Elgin, which is a really nice paper we still have. Still have Thorndale. We sold Bartlett and another little one up there. They were very, very small and we sold them to a lady that was really running them. It was a good deal and she prints, still prints with us, Gayle Bielss, do you know her?  Anyway, she’s a real nice lady.  So that really doubled the size of the company in one day and bought that group from Afton Schulz. And I moved to Taylor. And Robert Swonke, who had been with me since ’78, and he retired a few years ago.  But, so we went over there. And there’s a great story about that.  We were trying to figure out all these papers because it just all happened at one time and so we called, we were gonna go to one town and have a meeting, but we went to the wrong one, and they were all waiting for us in this one town.  We went to the wrong one.

But anyway, after that, that was in ’93, and then in ’95 we bought Alpine to go along with Fort Stockton.  And then also in ’95, bought Cameron and Columbus from Tex and Sally, and then in ’96 bought Marble Falls.  And then ultimately moved the operation—  It’s called Granite. It used to be, back in the old days, I bought. Mrs. Walls called me one day after I sold my first group and I thought I’d do a little newspaper brokering, you know, but that wasn’t for me because I wasn’t very good at it and if it was a real good property then I wanted to buy it, I don’t want to sell it to somebody else. And so when I realized I wasn’t good at brokering, I just kept that name and then we started, we bought a paper in Missouri, in Walden, Missouri, and some others, along with Albert Thompson.

And so when we moved to Marble Falls and moved our headquarters there, we built a new building. We said it’s time for a change of names, we need to, you know it had a bad connotation to it and it wasn’t meant that way but that’s the way. So anyway, we put, everybody in the company put in a name of what you thought would be the best and my mother came up with Granite and so that’s what we did. And we felt like it was kind of a stable deal and that’s what we always tried to be.  Although some of those first years it was, I don’t know how stable it was, but anyway, we kept that for, until 2000 and we sold the Marble Falls group to Jeremy Halbreich and his group.  And, I don’t. Since then we’ve just, we’ve just kinda tried to operate them and do, so, I guess, counting the little ones, Thorndale and Rosebud there’s 22.  But they’re all small and they’re, you know we, to me, that  the weekly newspaper’s really the heart of the, heart of the town, you know.  I’ve always felt like, and I grew up in a little town, and I always felt like everybody knew what was going on in town but they wanted to read the paper to validate it once a week, you know.  So we try to give them that. And that’s what I challenge the paper, let’s get as many people, places, names, in the paper.  We’re not trying to win a Pulitzer Prize.  If it were to come along we wouldn’t run away from it, but that’s not really our, you know, we don’t, we don’t run away from a story but we’re not the National Inquirer. We’re not, we don’t really do a lot of investigative stuff.  One, we don’t have the staff for it and I’ve just always kinda felt like we’ll leave that to the big boys and we’ll just handle what’s going on in the eighth grade, you know.

WGC:  Well, let’s talk a little bit about leaving that to the big boys because journalism is changing dramatically every hour of the day.

JC: Yes.

WGC:  And the big boys are having some problems.

JC: Yeah.

WGC:  But the little guys, the community newspapers seem to be holding their own, even growing.

JC: Yeah.

WGC:  Let me hear what you think about that and what trend we might look forward to in journalism.

JC: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve thought about this and well, the Internet really hurt the big guys and we’ve adjusted because we have our own Internet department and we had web pages way before most weekly papers did. Brandi was in charge of that and we do a lot of electronically stuff that I don’t get involved with because I’m not capable. But the way I look at it, in a weekly paper you would have a, you’d print a weekly paper once a week and people couldn’t wait for that paper to come out. But we were a week behind in news.  If somebody died on Wednesday afternoon, you know, I used to own the Mason County News and they had a little clothespins on the doors in downtown and if Sally Jones died well you’d be stuck on that. But the way I see it is the Internet really helped us because people in our towns are accustomed to reading the news once a week for what’s going on and we print it once a week. Now we can give it to them every day and still only have to print it once. But run it on the web pages if it happens sometimes and then we print it in the paper and that’s their validation, you know. I don’t think they trust it on the Internet, I don’t, you know, I think they want to read it in a paper. I’m a little behind times on that and all the Facebook and all the, you know, I’m at a stage in my career I’m gonna leave that to Rick and Brandi and Jim Beavers and those to do that.  But I do believe that forever people are gonna want to see their kid’s name in a paper when they make the “A Honor Roll”.

WGC:  And you said that’s going to permit the community newspapers, the weekly newspapers, to survive and prosper?

JC: I think that’s the basis of it.  I think that’s the anchor and surely, you know, there’s things going on in town when you just, uh, but if it happens in Boerne, Texas, it needs to be in the Boerne Star.  But if happens in Boerne it doesn’t need to be in Bandera or Alpine.  If it happens there it needs to happen there.  And I do think that you can take a story and localize it.  You can take a national story and localize it whether it be health care, whether it be unemployment or whether it be the interest rate.  And that’s the challenge, is to make it, we don’t have the wire in Taylor and it’s daily.  It’s local.

WGC:  No AP membership?  And Taylor’s your daily newspaper?

JC:  Yeah. And it really is a weekly. I had an editor there one time and he said, what you want me to do is you just want me to print a weekly paper five days a week and I said, “Exactly.” We finally, we are finally communicating, you know. And that, and that’s when I was living there and actually publishing the paper. But that’s what I thought would be the survivor.  We had the Austin American-Statesman there. We’d be there in the afternoon and they’d be there before sunup. We had eight or ten pages and they had 40 pages. They don’t have quite that many now, but how would you try to compete with them on a national basis?  But on the other hand, how would they compete with all the little towns that are around Austin?  I think they’re kidding themselves and they’re trying it now, but it really, that’s not their job.  Our job is not to compete on the national or even on the state level, but if they do it in Elgin then they have to do it in Taylor and have to do it in Round Rock and have to do it in Georgetown and they have to do it in Cedar Park and Leander and south and, you know, it’s just…

WGC:  They can’t cover every high school football game in Central Texas.

JC:  They can’t do it.  Powerful as they are, they can’t do it.  And, you know, we, I think the Austin American-Statesman’s a good newspaper, I think it’s a great newspaper and we looked into…

WGC:  And you were going to possibly bid on it when Cox put it up for sale.

JC:  We did.

WGC:  I understand your group was one of the suitors.

JC:  Yes.  I think we were the last in line and I don’t know if that’s because we didn’t know any better or what but really I thought that, uh, I think if I’d been 10 years younger we’d a really gone after it.  Because I don’t think we were that far apart and I think it would have been a great job, I mean I just really… Even though my life’s work’s been on little papers, it would have still been a very exciting venture to be, to be that influential with politicians and others and…But it’s a great newspaper.

WGC:  But surely you have that same kind of influence in the communities you serve currently.

JC:  We’d like to think so.  And you know that’s one that you have to temper too, you can’t…I think being an editor or publisher on a weekly newspaper is the most rewarding job you can have.  And probably the most powerful in that town but you can’t abuse that and you can’t ever, you’ve got to be humble.  You can’t be arrogant cause they’ll get you, the old timers will get you.  And that’s the way it should be.

WGC:  Let’s talk about being the publisher in a small town.  Let’s talk about what you’re proudest of in your professional career and then about the biggest ethical dilemma you might have faced.

JC:  Okay.  Well—

WGC:  So what makes you smile and what makes you kinda wince a little bit?

JC:  Well, you know, I mean being a publisher you can go into a town as a new publisher and within a month you know everybody there.  That if you were in the hardware business it would take you years to know the people that you would know in a very short time.  And I always liked that.  And I liked…  I liked having a little bit to do with the heartbeat of that town.  I liked…and this is coming from my side and not the editorial side I think, I liked getting something done without writing a story.  I liked being able to go to a guy and say look, this is a county Maintainer and it’s on private land.  Now there’s two ways we can handle this.  You can stop doing that and this picture will go in a file that nobody will ever see.  Or it can be on the front page next week.  I like doing that because they quit doing it.  They weren’t on that road any more and the taxpayers’ dollars were saved and we didn’t have to run that and tear the town apart.  Nobody wanted to, nobody wants to see their tax dollars on a private road but they also don’t want to see the newspaper attacking their first cousin either, in which it would be viewed as.

And I, and another pet peeve I have now is, you know, in the old days we would form a relationship with the mayor and with the chief of police and with the sheriff and if there was a story we could get that story and they’d give us that story. But today it seems like if they don’t give it to you immediately you just a file Freedom of Information and force them.  And there’s a better way, I think.  I mean I think we always got the story, it may have taken a little longer, but…and that’s just kinda the sign of the times now, you know.  My great friend Dolph Tillotson, who I have the utmost respect for, the Galveston News files them regularly and I’m not saying that’s the wrong way. It’s just not my way.  I think…and we’ve done that.  We’ve filed them and I’m sure a lot of them, you know, when Alpine … and all that stuff, but I just think that’s the easy way.  I think with a little work and a little respect, mutual respect, I mean I’ve held stories for the police.  They say, you know, we know you know about this, will you give us a little time because we’re working on this and you know, to me that’s just what you ought to do.  I’m probably a little too much, you know, in favor of law enforcement, but I don’t know.  I’m just that, I know I’m different than most people on that but I just think you can get the story without tearing the city apart. And so…That didn’t come out of a textbook.  That just came out of…

WGC:  Years and years of doing it.

JC:  Thirty, 40 years doing it, you know. So, you know the ultimate thing is getting the story.  And we’ve never backed up to one. We have been, I mean, you know there’s some dilemmas, you know you have your biggest advertiser comes to you, you know, if you run that story about me running through the neighbor’s yard into their house drunk last night, well you’ll never see another ad.  Well, we’ve never backed-down to that.  You know, that’s Mr. Walls’ saying is that you need be profitable so you can’t be coerced into doing something that you shouldn’t do or not do that you should do.  And I had a family member one time got a DWI and it was a…We ran DWIs.  My best friend DWI and every one of them were printed.  If I’d gotten, you know if I’d gotten one I’d a probably put mine on the front page, and you know, I don’t know about DWI,  I mean, you know, but in little towns that’s the, that’s what hard running a weekly paper.  Running the Austin American-Statesman you can do that and it doesn’t affect you, but in a little town you’re gonna run into who you wrote about in the grocery store, in church, or wherever, playing golf, I mean it’s up front and personal, you know.  So, but I learned from Jim Hale and Bill Hartman, especially, that you can’t back down.  If you got a job to do and you do it.  And that’s what we do.  Macy said—

WGC:  Macy ’s your wife?

JC: Yeah, she’s my wife, and she said I don’t want to live again in a town where you own the newspaper, where we own the newspaper. Because my great old friend, Shelton Prince said, you know, said publishing a newspaper you have the opportunity to offend everyone in town, given time. And did you know Shelton?  He’s like my brother.  And so… But we’ve never succumbed to that, ever.

WGC:  So how active are you these days in Granite Publications?

JC:  You know, Fluffy, I’m not and I’m really kinda just easing out.  Rick Reynolds came to work as president in 2001 and so, you know, that’s nine and a half years and so I’m really kinda on, in the last three or four years he’s just been, and Brandi’s becoming of age, and…

WGC:  And Brandi is?

JC:  My daughter.  And so, you know, I’m just kinda easing out and turning that over to them.  I didn’t turn loose too quickly, you know, I was clawing and stuff, but I feel comfortable with them and we have a son that runs the Bandera paper and he’s buying that and Brandi and her sisters are, or sister and brother are buying some of the other smaller ones and so we’re just making some adjustments as time goes on you know we have to start diversifying ourselves. And so that’s, the last couple of years that’s what I’ve been doing.   And Macy and I, we are getting ready. We bought a boat and we’re gonna make another trip and so that’s what we’re planning for 2011 and turn it over to them and I told them if they don’t do it right I’ll come back, you know.  But I have all the confidence in the world in them and it’s a good feeling.

WGC:  And do you have confidence in journalism?

JC:  I do. I sure do.  You know, I have a little problem with the electronic media, and you know, when they say, I think it’s terribly biased on both sides of the, I mean I… At one time I started, I just took a yellow tablet, that’s how I work on, is yellow tablets.  And I just put a mark down in a 30-minute newscast how many opinions were in straight news stories and the sheet was full, it’s incredible.  It’s incredible.  I think if we did that in our business we would be run out of town.  But, you know, now they call it a show instead of a broadcast-newscast.  It is a show.  It’s a side show, all of them.  So I don’t really, I mean I watch it, but, you know, I still get my news from a newspaper.

WGC:  What newspaper do you get it from?

JC:  San Angelo, primarily.

WGC:  San Angelo Standard-Times?  Do you read any of the national publications?

JC:  When we get them.  You know we can’t get the Dallas Morning-News and I don’t know how to read them online.  I mean I’d love to be able to get the Dallas Morning-News or the, or the Chronicle, but you can’t do it.

WGC:  So you’re not an online news consumer?

JC:  I’m not.

WGC:  Have you followed any of the WikiLeaks controversy?

JC:  I have but, you know, I do get my national news from the TV because out here, you know, that’s all you have.  And even in San Angelo, but you know, I have to watch two or three networks and then figure out what the truth is.  You can’t watch any one, I think that’s a horrible deal and I’ll …but I’m strong, I’m strong law enforcement, I’m strong military so I would think that but I don’t know how anybody could justify what he does, personally.

WGC:  So do you think journalism and newspaper business is a good career for youngsters these days?

JC:  Well, you know, I do.  But you know, I think if somebody’s going to journalism school, and I can only speak for weekly newspapers, a small market, you know, they can’t come out of that and think it’s boring and degrading just to do everyday news, you know.  Pulitzer Prizes don’t come along and the awards don’t come along every day and I do believe if you try to be sensational every day then sensationalism becomes a norm and it’s no more, it’s no longer sensational.  But I think if somebody’s looking for a career, to be involved in communities, and to be, have an impact on what’s going on there, I think it’s a great, I think it’s great.  And it’s been…

WGC:  Well has been your hiring philosophy in the newspapers that you’ve, uh…

JC:  Well, I’m not a very good hirer and I just don’t do that and I’ll tell you why I’m not very good, because I believe in it so much and our company so much that I start selling the person that’s applying for the job.  And so I just, I’m not…that’s just not what I’m good at and that’s one of my…If it’s something…What I try to do is realize what I’m good at and what I’m not good at and what I do good at I try to do with all vigor and what I’m not good at then I get somebody else that I think is good at, that’s what they’re supposed to do, we all have strong and weak points.  And Rick is great at that.  I mean he’s made some great hires and Don Moore is, you know, everybody knows Don and I love him to death and he said, he said one time, said “Boy, I wanted to hire this writer but they didn’t have a degree.” And I said, “Well, is that a requirement?”  And he said, “Absolutely.  If they don’t have a degree they’re not working for this company.”  I said, “Well, I need to go. Mark Henry needs to go. Robert Swonke needs to go.”  I said, “So where do you want to start?”  But I think degrees are great.  I wish I had mine; I don’t, but I don’t think it’s a requirement, you know.  I think if you want to write or you want to be a production person or you want to be an ad peddler, you just get out there and do it.  Just work hard at it and it will, you know, but do I say I wish I had that hanging on my wall?  Absolutely.  I’m embarrassed that I don’t, but that’s just, I’m not gonna dwell on it and I’m not at my stage gonna go back and get it, finish up, so…

WGC:  So the future newspaper entrepreneurs who are out there and who might listen to this interview are going to look to you for some advice.  What advice do you give somebody who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JC:  Well, I’ll say this that it is tougher now.  I mean back when I was starting out and doing this it was just at a time that things were different and there was people selling that aren’t doing and now it’s big groups are doing it or chains.  We’re not a chain, we’re just a group, and but and, you know, I’m really… I’m really terribly opposed to chains because, you know, I call it the flush right syndrome on a spreadsheet.  You get a number and then you just flush it and then it goes all the way across without any thought to what’s going on.  You don’t take that individual town and have a person there, I’ve known these, they bought these papers and never even been there, ride through them once and say, because they’re doing it with somebody else’s money, or what, I don’t know what it is.  But that isn’t the way Mr. Walls did it.  And that’s not the way we do it, you know.  That publisher’s a part of that community and for all effect, he’s, he runs it.  He owns it unless we go to court he’ll, he’s not gonna hear anything from us, maybe on the appearance a little bit and that’s Brandi’s thing.  But as far as the quality and the quality of a story, you might clean that up, how it’s written, but the actual story itself that’s what’s right in Alpine is not right in Madisonville, or, you know, so I think that’s what distinguishes us.

I think we kinda got off track there, but you know, well, you know our motto is “Do it right” and, you know, do it right, do the right thing and do it now and you just gotta figure it out.  I mean there’s a, when we started, there’s a great old story. Albert and I were buying, were trying to buy the paper in Woodward, Oklahoma.  And so people that owned a convenience store chain had this paper and I don’t recall how they wound up with it, but we were up there for three or four days and had been up there and had studied the market and so we negotiated with them for a few days on price.  Now back in those days, because of tax laws and some other things, it was beneficial for an owner to finance it for somebody and that’s what we would have to do is really sell them on that we can do this job right.  And, you know, Dick and Sally Richards, we bought their paper and others that they did the financing because we didn’t have any money. We didn’t have any choice.  But this one particular case in Woodward, you know, we went back and forth and finally the last day, we said “What we’ll do is we’ll give you a million dollars cash.”  And they thought it over and back and forth and they said “Well, we can’t do that” and we left.  I looked at Albert and he was just white as that paper and I said, “What’s the matter with you?”  He said, “What in the hell were we gonna do if they’d a’ said ‘yes’?”  We didn’t have any money.  And I said “Aw, we’d a found it somewhere.”  But there’s a lot of stories like that, you know. Back in the days before computers we used to sit in hotel rooms and type out contracts on the bed, you know.  And we would always have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, you know.  Plan A would be cash and we hoped they didn’t take that.  Plan B was so much down and over so many years and Plan C was a little bit down and over a lot of years.  And so we were working on the paper in Weslaco and we said, you know, finally said, you know, the only thing that’s gonna work is Plan C, but I didn’t think about retyping that whole contract or that whole page so the next morning we presented it and this is really, this is the only one that, this is our offer and he said well where’s Plan A and Plan B?  And I said there’s not a Plan A and Plan B.  And he said you wouldn’t have put that Plan C up there if there wasn’t a Plan A and B, so you know, you run into stuff like that and but I mean there’s just a jillion great old stories like that.

But the challenge, if you want to do what I do or what I did, as far as acquisitions and barring a small group, is you have to get the confidence.  You have to have, you have to give somebody a list and say this is what I’ve done, these are the people I’ve done business with, here’s their phone number, call them and see if they got paid on time or the product is still good or what we did and it makes it hard these days because these other guys are paying so much money that those things don’t matter as much but it’s just, you know, you just build up a rapport with people.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it’s right that Dick and Sally could have sold out for a lot more to somebody else than they did to us, for us, with us, but to me, I mean that, I mean that makes you feel good that they know their paper is not gonna be destroyed the way some others have been.  And, I mean there’s only so many dollars there than can go around, you know, so, but, you know, that’s just one way to do it and I guess this…And we’re not talking about being a writer, we’re talking about being an acquirer, is to get out and start knocking on doors.  I mean I drove all over Texas for years and I’d just knock on their door and say would you like to sell your newspaper and, you know, some of them said yes and some of them threw me out and some of them we built friendship over the time and bought them later.  But it was an exciting career for me and…

WGC:  An enjoyable one.

JC:  Very enjoyable, very enjoyable, very rewarding.

WGC:  Better than taking over your father’s machine shop.

JC:  That would have been the worst thing that I could think of.  That just was not for me.  And the day that I told him I quit and he said what are you gonna do?  And I said I don’t know, but it’s not gonna be in a machine shop and he hugged me and said just do the best you, you know, do what you can do…do what you want to do.  And that’s when I think I was so lucky the day that I decided to go play golf and try to raise a little cash and met Les Daughtry.  I mean that was just, it was like… I mean I just love that man, to this day and then to be affiliated with Walls and the Hartmans and, you know, Bill and I are very very close and their whole family and I knew Lee and Fred when they were little bitty and so yeah, it’s been beyond my wildest dreams, you know.  And I’m proud that Brandi’s in the business and J.T.’s in the business and Jennifer’s not and I’m proud for her.  It wasn’t her thing and she, you know, she said I’d rather have a dad than a boss and I can understand that, you know.  But, no we’re at a great place in our life and, so…

WGC:  Wonderful.  Is there anything else you’d like to wrap up with?   I think we’ve covered our questions here.

JC:  That’s it for me.  I did send, I sent Rick and Albert and Borders an email and said, you know, one of the things is she wants to hear is some newspaper stories and I said there’s so many of them but I’m drawing a blank and they started …  and I said we can’t talk about that.  But there is, I mean there’s just, it would be a great round table, cold beer thing to sit and do that.  We ought to do that sometime.

WGC:  We will.

JC:  That would be a fun because there are just so many great stories.

 

 

Leave a Comment

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>