English Bros. was founded in 1946 after I graduated from Texas A&M, at which time I borrowed $1,100.00 from my parents to start my business. The name “English Bros.” was chosen because two of my father’s brothers had a surplus sign by that name that they had used in their business, and they were no longer using it. They let me use it at no cost. I kept the sign until I could afford a store location. I had one major investment when I started out, and that was a half-ton panel truck, which I bought from Alexander Motor Company for $689.00.
My father was Southwest Sales Manager for the National Battery Company, so that’s why I started out selling automobile batteries and why I had to purchase a panel truck to carry my inventory until I could establish a location, which I eventually found in Frisco, Texas. I paid $25.00 per month rent. This gave me a business address to use (instead of my home address), and this is where I stored empty battery boxes to make it appear I had inventory. As you can determine, this was “poor-boy” start-up.
Let’s do the math on this venture:
Truck Cost: $689.00 – 24 month pay out with no interest, Mr. Alexander tried to help young people starting in business.
Truck Payment: $28.71 per month truck payment
Rent: $25.00 per month
Gas/Oil: $10.00 per month
Salary: $25.00 per month
$88.71 Monthly Overhead
Since my father was Sales Manager for National Battery Co., I could buy batteries at warehouse distribution prices, which averaged about $6.00 per 6-volt battery.
I made a customer list from my home telephone directory. From that list, I picked the accounts I wanted to approach. I then surveyed the accounts by driving by them on Saturday afternoons with my girlfriend, who later became my wife of 44 years until her passing. I could determine the owner’s name (usually from the sign outside). Frequently, with good observation, I could determine the amount of inventory they had in stock. In order to conserve operating costs, invoices and sales pads were not printed, but rubber stamped instead. I initiated a program (not used in automotive business at that time), to sell batteries on consignment.
This program was the beginning of English Bros. Approximately one year later, I had two battery trucks serving Northeast and North Central Texas, all developed on consignment. In addition, I started selling service station equipment (from catalogues) such as; jacks, lifts, lube equipment, air compressors, etc. By 1949 my father joined me in my company, where he was in charge of the Dallas Metroplex area. By the latter part of 1947, I rented a building on Gaston Avenue in Dallas, Texas.
A friend of my father (was a manufacture’s representative for various automotive lines), came into the store and left a few boxes of paint for us to determine the quality of the material before he consented to represent the line. A few days later, I smashed my thumb and thought to myself, “There’s got to be a better way to make a living (the gross profit was 25%)”. Furthermore, I had to travel out of town a couple days every week and leave my wife and daughter alone.
The Good Lord stepped in and led me to my next venture. I looked at the residual cases of paint; I then opened the Yellow Pages to research “Automotive Paint” and “Automotive Body Shops”. I found one located at the corner of Peak and Ross (Woodroe Paint & Body), so I decided to make a call. I contacted the shop and introduced myself (as a Paint Rep.) to the painter and asked if he needed any paint. He asked what brand I had for sale. I could see the unrecognized expression on his face as I said, “Brolite”. When he said he had never heard of “Brolite”, my response was, “I never heard of you until I walked in here”. That started our one-on-one conversation.He ordered a pint of Tampico Red Metallic paint to match a 1949 Mercury. He had not been able to match the paint up until this point, partially because this was the first red metallic auto paint ever used. I had no idea what Tampico Red was (or how to mix it), but I made it a priority to find out how. I called the Customer Service department at Brolite so they could walk me through the process of finding the formula, mixing the toners and how to mix that specific color, which was more difficult since I did not have a paint shaker.I mixed and delivered the paint to Woodroe and informed the painter of the cost of .90￠. He notified me that he was not going to pay for the paint until he determined whether or not it matched. At that moment, I had no idea if it would match or not. Given that I had no paint shaker, the paint was not mixed well, so I told the painter to stir it with a paddle so it would be fresh. When he sprayed the car, lo and behold, IT MATCHED!With the Good Lord on my side, I was paid the .90￠. Upon returning to my business, I informed my father that he inherited a battery business. Thus, English Color Supply had arrived!