InMarket: Hard work, perseverance

Robert Francis

It was 70 years ago that R.J. Teague, with only two years of formal education, opened his lumber company in Fort Worth. A few years later, in 1949, Fort Worth’s great flood wreaked havoc on that property burying it under 15 feet of water and destroying inventory and equipment. Teague, along with his son Jim, overcame the devastation and rebuilt the business a few blocks east. How has the business survived 70 years? President and owner Jim Teague says “hard work and perseverance,” and it’s hard to disagree with that. “My father had a knack for what it took to run a business,” he said. Jim Teague learned along the way. “When I wasn’t in school, I was here,” he says, recalling that he went to night school at Texas Christian University and was driving a truck and unloading lumber during the day.

“My degree is in lumber,” he says. “I learned by being here.” It’s still a family business, relatives Don Stogsdill, Randy Stogsdill and Paul Teague are in the business. His father, R.J. Teague, retired at a “young 97.” He died in 2011 just shy of 100 years of age. Even beyond the family, the company’s 26 employees are nearly all experienced veterans of the business, some as long as 40 years. “We rely on our people and so do our customers,” he says. Still, the lumber business and Teague have changed some over the years.

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“We’ve evolved where we handle more custom builders and municipalities and school districts, but we also have a lot of consumer business,” he says. As Fort Worth has changed, the area where Teague Lumber is located, 2501 White Settlement Road, has become the center for recent development. As a result the company has received several offers for the property. But Teague says he has no intention of selling. “Our customers like where we are,” he says. The company focuses on high quality materials, providing good service and being competitive. “Over my entire career as general contractor I was continually amazed at the quality of service at Teague Lumber Company,” said former customer Ernie Horn, now head of educational support organization Score A Goal in the Classroom. “Their word and the quality of their products were as good as a trainload of gold.”

On Sept. 16, the company celebrated its 70th anniversary, by inviting customers to drop by for some barbecue. “They usually come by to fill their trucks with materials,” says Teague, but this time he filled their stomachs. The event grew more festive as one customer provided a mariachi band. Former customer Horn brought Maj. Robert J. Richardson, who has performed with his bagpipes for royalty and heads of state all over the world. One song he played, Scotland the Brave, the unofficial anthem of Scotland, brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd, Horn said. “I’ll bet R.J. Teague was up in heaven on his forklift, smiling,” he said.