On the Road in Dallas, Texas 4/17/92


The first thing I found out during my visit to SnyderGeneral is; there's no space between the words Snyder and General. Why? According to Stacey Snyder, Corporate Communications Coordinator, having the two together creates "synergy". What are the revenues of the privately held manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning products? Snyder said, "almost a billion". Is Stacey related to Richard Snyder, founder and CEO of the company? Yep, she's his daughter.

Corporate headquarters is a few miles from downtown Dallas in a 3-story brick structure, which was originally built as condos. The condo project went kaput and SnyderGeneral bought the building. Going by the place you'd never know it's the corporate offices of a billion dollar company because there's only a small plaque out front with the company's name on it and next to it is a large apartment/condo complex. Fifty-three employees work in the place.

Associated Materials

Privately held Associated Materials occupies part of the 41st floor of a 55-story high-rise in downtown Dallas. Five employees work at the corporate offices.

Sammons Enterprises

Privately held Sammons Enterprises (cable TV, insurance) leases space in a building about a mile from downtown Dallas.

S&A Restaurant Corporation

Riding up to visit S & A Restaurant Corporation, I knew they were a privately held restaurant company but, what restaurants? Anne Williamson, Manager of Guest Relations cleared it up for me; Bennigans and, Steak and Ale. The company leases & occupies about 50% of the space in a large 4-story building located about 10 miles from downtown Dallas in an office park.

The conference rooms are named after items on their restaurant menus. There's the Porterhouse Room, the Kensington Room (a steak), Rio Grande Room and Bourbon Street Room to name a few. Scattered throughout the offices and halls is a collection of art, mostly modern and limited to Texas artists.

Donald Slater, the CEO, has a basketball hoop in his office, a broken gumball machine and, a lollipop tree. The tree is about two feet high, made out of wood and has several dozen Tootsie Roll Pops hanging on it. According to Anne, Slater is hooked on the pops.

Slater has a large collection of various sayings framed on one of his office walls. One reads:

"The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack". Another is the infamous; "Just do it".

A small stereo system was playing music in Slater's office. Why? He samples/tests the music which is taped to be played in the various restaurants.

About 10 miles north of downtown Dallas is an area where the LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway intersect. The area is home to many high-rise office buildings and the Galleria shopping center, which is considered Dallas's finest.

Oryx Energy Company

Connected to the Galleria is the 26-story headquarters of Oryx Energy Company (revenues $1.6 billion in 1991). Though the company occupies the whole building (about 1,000 employees) and their name is atop the structure, they only lease space. Robert Haupfuhrer, CEO, has a great view of the downtown Dallas skyline from his corner office on the 22nd floor. Oryx does business in Ecuador, which explains the several pieces of art (hand-made woodcarvings) from Ecuador in Haupfuhrer's office. The company's logo is an oryx, which is a type of antelope.


In another building connected to the Galleria are the corporate offices of AmeriServ, a privately held foodservice systems distributor with revenues of $761 million in 1991. AmeriServ occupies half of the 22nd floor of the 25-story building.

My figure for 1991 revenues was obtained from a prospectus given to me by Monty Standifer, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. The company recently canceled its initial public offering because it wasn't as well received as they had hoped.

The company specializes in distributing products (meats, refrigerated goods, canned goods, condiments, fresh produce, dairy items) to fast-foods and casual restaurants (Dairy Queen, Burger King, Carvel, Rally's, Subway, Wendy's, Krystal, Applebee's, A&W, Big Boy, KFC and Big Boy).

Only five people work in the corporate offices. The company is headquartered in Dallas because it was founded here.

Valhi Inc. and Contran Corporation

Across the freeway from the Galleria complex is a blue-glassed complex of office buildings. On the 17th floor of one of the three buildings is the main reception area for Valhi Inc. and Contran Corporation. Valhi is the publicly held (1991 revenues $766 billion) company controlled by billionaire Harold Simmons, through his privately held Contran Corporation.

I had read many stories about Simmons and was hoping to meet him. The snobby receptionist quickly dashed my hopes on the 17th floor. The receptionist initially dismissed me because she thought I was asking for a donation. With a sigh (to let me know I was taking up her valuable time) she called up Simmons's secretary to find out where my letter of introduction had ended up. I was then informed the company wasn't interested. I then asked the smug receptionist why she was so sure nobody would meet with me. "I've been here for quite a few years and they don't talk to anyone", was her reply. On the walls in the well-appointed reception area are several paintings featuring Western scenes. The receptionist told me that Simmons has a very extensive Western art collection. A spiral staircase was visible, evidently leading up to the 18th and top floor.

GLI Holdings

About two miles north of the Galleria in a 6-story building are the corporate offices of publicly held GLI Holdings, which owns Greyhound Lines.

Walking into the building, the first thing you see is a neon greyhound on the wall behind the receptionist's desk. The greyhound was retrieved from the company's old terminal in Columbia, South Carolina. Greyhound leases space in the building and 220 employees occupy the first four floors. Next year, the company will be taking over the whole building. That means, Frank Schneider, the CEO, will have his office on the 6th floor instead of the fourth. Schneider's office is small and very spartan although, I did count 5 miniature greyhound buses and a three-foot high statue of a greyhound (dog, not a bus) in his office.

Scattered throughout the floors are all kinds of Greyhound memorabilia including; old advertisements, new advertisements and old miniature buses. William Kula, Public Relations Manager, seem to have the best collection of driver's hats and miniature buses. Greyhound went public in October of 1991 (American Stock Exchange, "BUS") and so Kula wasn't able to give me an annual report BUT, he PROMISED to send me a miniature greyhound bus.

Did you know Greyhound started in 1914 in Alice, Minnesota by Swedish immigrant Carl Eric Wickman?

Cullum Companies

Cullum Companies is a privately held (LBO in 1988) grocery and drug store chain with over $1.1 billion in revenues. Headquarters are in a two story building about two miles from the Galleria. Behind headquarters is a 350,000 square foot warehouse center.

Jack Evans, Jr., CEO, has a middle office on the second floor with a view of the parking lot and railroad tracks. Evans has quite a few pictures of horses in his office. Why? He raises and races quarter horses. Behind his desk on a table is a stuffed pheasant, which he said he shot.

Evans told me an interesting story: his father was CEO before him and the company use to have assigned reserved parking out front. His father drove a distinctive yellow Cadillac and was one day kidnapped from the parking lot. Another tidbit; his father is a former Mayor of Dallas.

Home Interior & Gifts, Inc.

Home Interior & Gifts, Inc., a privately-held company with $750 million in revenues is headquartered about a half mile from Cullen Companies in a light industrial area. The company-owned, 2-story, 200,000 square foot building (built in 1972) serves as a warehouse and corporate offices. About 500 employees work in the place.

What does the company do? It's very similar to Mary Kay Cosmetics: A woman invites several of her friends over to her house. A Home Interior Hostess comes over and shows the company's line of home accessories and then, orders are taken. Matter of fact, Mary Kay Ash (founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics) and Mary C. Crowley (founder of Home Interior & Gifts) were friends.

The main lobby had an unusual array of magazines lying around: Auto Week, Better Homes, Business Week, Time, People, Institutional Investor, Metropolitan Home, Nation's Business, Architectural Digest, Forbes and Fortune. Also lying around were a half dozen pocketsize booklets entitled, "Be Somebody" by Mary C. Crowley. Crowley, who passed away several years ago, was a very religious Baptist. The booklet contains 60 pages of quotes, sayings, and inspirational comments on a variety of subjects.

Example: "Be Somebody...God doesn't take time to make a nobody".

Example: "Attitude is the mind's paint brush

it can color a situation gloomy or gray

or cheerful and gay."

According to the inside cover, over 919,224 copies are in print.

William Hendrix, Vice President of Finance, answered questions and walked me around the place. Mary Crowley's son, Don Carter is President and CEO. Walking into Carter's first floor corner office found me looking at an open Bible on his desk, a baseball bat, six basketballs, several fake flower bouquets and several animal porcelains. The flowers and porcelains are there because they are some of the items the company sells. The basketballs are there because Carter is the majority owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. Each year he has the team sign a basketball (which explains the balls in his office).

Though Mary Crowley passed away several years ago, her office next to Carter's has been left intact. It's very homey. There's even a working fireplace.

Walking across the street, Hendrix took me to the company's fitness center-which is also where the Mavericks practice. The outside of the building looks like a warehouse but, inside there's a whirlpool, sauna, weight room, 2 racquetball courts, an indoor running track and an impressive full-size basketball court.

Carter is a pilot and flies the company's Falcon and Citation. He flies out of Addison Airport, a small municipal airport several miles away. The company also leases out two Gulfstreams (G-2's).

Club Corporation International

Privately held Club Corporation International with almost $900 million in revenues, is the world's largest operator of private clubs, resorts and country clubs. The company occupies four floors in a 17-story blue-glassed building located next to the LBJ Freeway. Though the company's name is in huge letters on the sides of the building, they only lease space. About 300 employees work in the corporate offices.

Robert Dedman, Sr., the CEO and founder, has a corner office with a view of the freeway. Brenda McCord, his assistant, answered my questions. Brenda introduced me to Dedman and started to tell him about my unusual trek, Dedman shook my hand and acted as if he could care less. Jeez, he could have at least faked it.

About two blocks away is the RHD Memorial Medical Center, according to Brenda, Dedman donated quite a bit of money. About a quarter mile away is the Brookhaven Country Club, the first club Dedman founded in 1957. Some of the clubs owned by Club International: Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio), Pinehurst Hotel & Country Club (Pinehurst, NC), Barton Creek Conference Resort (Austin, TX) and Inverrary Resort (Ft. Lauderdale, FL).

J.C, Penny Corporation

About two miles north of the Galleria in a 9-story orangish-glass building are the corporate offices of J.C. Penny Corporation (1991 revenues $16 billion). Talk about bad timing, the company is moving into their new corporate offices in August. So everything I ask about the current offices will be obsolete in a few months. The new digs will sit on 125 acres, with the various buildings totaling 1.9 million square feet. I asked David Lenz, Manager of Public Affairs, if I could see the CEO's office and Boardroom. "No", was his reply. I was hoping to meet the CEO so that I could ask him if he wears a Penny's suit. He did however, tell me the CEO's office is on the sixth floor of the 9-story building. Why? Lenz didn't know. The company has a Hawker-Siddley and uses nearby Addison Airport.

The Morningstar Group

The Morningstar Group, is a privately held dairy and food processing company. Corporate offices are on the 11th floor of a 19-story building about 5 miles north of downtown Dallas. Only a few years old, the company was formed from buying dairy operations of Southland Corporation (7/11 stores).

About 40 employees work on the floor. James Bach, CEO, has a great view of downtown Dallas from his office. Bach's office has quite a few old (antique) milk bottles, several old milk cans and a huge stuffed, cuddly cow-the kind you win at carnivals.

DSC Communications Corporation

Publicly held DSC Communications Corporation is headquartered about 15 miles north of Dallas in the suburb of Plano. There's a huge company-owned manufacturing/warehouse/research facility (900,000 square feet and 2,500 employees) located behind the two-story glass structure housing the corporate offices. Though the company has about 200 employees occupying the whole building, they lease space.

It started to thunder and rain just as I entered the building. My contact person said I picked a bad day and asked me to come back another day. I reluctantly agreed. As I was about to leave however, Gerald Carlton, Vice President Administration, walked by, saw me and agreed to talk.

DSC stands for, digital switching company. I couldn't see the CEO's office and boardroom because they were being used. The company uses a Gulfstream 3.


I dropped by privately held Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Companies on Good Friday (4/17/92) but found the offices closed. Some companies were open on Good Friday and some weren't. It's Monday morning and I'm back. Headquarters is in a good-looking 18-story building next to a freeway about 7 miles from downtown Dallas. The company occupies the top six floors and portions of two others for a total of 174,000 square feet. 

The main reception area is on the 16th floor and I can see a winding staircase going up to the 17th. On the receptionist’s counter is a bowl of Cherry 7-Up bubble gum. I try a piece and find it tastes just like a Cherry 7-Up soda. The receptionist makes a few calls and says neither one of the two guys who were familiar with my project are available today to meet with me. Rats! I had visited Coca-Cola and PepsiCo and was hoping to meet with someone at the third largest soft drink company in the country.

  Behind the receptionist's desk is a glass cooler containing cans of Dr Pepper, Seven-Up, Welch's and bottles of I.B.C. Root Beer. I was offered a soft drink and had an I.B.C. Root Beer. How did I find out the square footage and how many floors the company occupies? On the receptionist's counter is a small booklet with facts and history of the company. There's also about half a dozen big showcases in the lobby area filled with Dr Pepper and 7UP memorabilia. The collection is quite extensive: playing cards, ashtrays, match books, lighters, pens and pins with Dr Pepper and 7UP's names on the items. I asked if I could take a few pictures of the displays but, was told it wasn't allowed.

  There's a small pond of the property and evidently about 10 geese have taken up residence. Next to one of the side entrances several geese have nests in the shrubbery. They hiss at anyone and everyone who goes in and out the building. Can't blame them because I spotted six eggs in one of the nests while they were distracted chasing away someone who walked too close.


Not too far from Dr Pepper/7-UP is the campus of Southern Methodist University. Riding around the good-looking campus I stop by a Ross Perot for President office set-up in a vacant store to gather petition signatures. I went in because I was curious (okay nosy) to see how things were going. Getting off my bike, a man saw the Bloomberg Financial Markets name on the bike and asked if I was familiar with The Bloomberg. I told Charles Best, President of Crestwood Asset Management, that I was indeed. I then explained to him how to punch up my column. Riding around a park the day before, two guys on bikes stop me to found out where I traveling and I end up finding out one works for Merrill Lynch and uses The Bloomberg.



I was expecting the worst when showing up at E-Systems' headquarters. A week earlier I called home to San Diego checking for messages and had received one from an unidentified woman at E-Systems telling me not to come by. The woman left no name or phone number but, she said the company had received my letter of introduction and, no one at the company would have time to talk to me. Jeez, what's a guy to do? Well if it's me, I show up anyway.

  E-Systems (1991 revenues $1.9 billion) is primarily a defense contractor and having visited quite a few defense contractors, I've found some of them to be skittish about talking to me. The company-owned two-story, 80,000 square foot headquarters building is about 15 minutes north of downtown Dallas alongside the LBJ Freeway.

  I was fortunate to catch John Kumpf, Vice President-Corporate Communications, walking through the lobby area as I was introducing myself to the receptionist. Kumpf took me to his office, answered questions and gave me a tour of the place. Gene Keiffer, CEO, has huge hand-painted reference map of the world on one of his office walls. Keiffer has seven model airplanes and four pictures of dogs in his office (he has a Doberman). The company has a Falcon 10 corporate aircraft. About 100 employees work at the corporate offices. I never did mention to Kumpf the phone call received telling me not to come by. I did found out however, that it was his secretary who left the message.


Hall-Mark Electronics Corporation

Hall-Mark Electronics Corporation is a privately-held distributor of electronic components. According to Michael Foltz, Director of Human Resources, the company had revenues of $600 million in 1991. Headquarters is a company-owned, two-story building located in a light industrial park about 20 minutes from Dallas. The 450 employees at the corporate offices have several recreational perks on the premises; 4 basketball hoops, softball field, horseshoes and a walking trail. Connected to headquarters is a warehouse/distribution center. When Hall-Mark ships out an order it goes Federal Express. Foltz said Hall-Mark is the biggest user of Federal Express in the Southwest. Joseph Semmer, CEO, has a small office on the second floor with a view of the street. Scattered throughout the building are paintings of Western scenes.


 Eljer Industries

Eljer Industries (revenue 1990-$449 million) was supposed to be headquartered in Plano, a suburb about 20 miles north of Dallas. I showed up and was told the corporate offices had moved a year ago to offices about 20 miles away. The place I showed up (the former corporate offices) is one of their manufacturing plants which makes brass fittings. It was frustrating because I was leaving town the next day and found out I had gone by their new offices two days earlier while visiting another company.


 Lennox International

About five miles to the west of my visit to Eljer are the corporate offices of Lennox International. The company-owned 3-story structure is the only building in a new office park. About 500 employees work in the good-looking 132,000 square foot red brick building.

The lobby area has quite a few well-done displays showing the company's products and history. The privately-held heating and air conditioning manufacturer has revenues of over $1 billion.

John Norris, Jr. is the CEO and though he was in the middle of a meeting, his secretary knocked on his closed door, told him that I wanted to have a look in his office and he graciously let me in to have a look-see. I mention this because he, like everyone else I met during my visit were nice people. Walking into Donald Munson's office (President and COO), Munson showed me his collection of antique piggy banks on the wall. These are the kinds of piggy banks where you put in a coin and something happens. Example: a coin goes into a barrel of a gun being pointed by a farmer at a tree, the coin triggers the gun to shoot at the tree and out from the top of the tree pops a bear. Walking into Richard Booth's office (Executive Vice President-Secretary), Booth showed me two authentic shepherds crooks.


GSC Enterprises 

GSC Enterprises is a privately-held grocery wholesaler headquartered in Sulpher Springs, which is about 70 miles northeast of Dallas. What do the letters GSC stand for? Grocery Store Company. Corporate offices are in a company-owned, one story, and 3,600 square foot brick building located about 100 yards from one of their distribution centers (400,000 square feet). Michael Mize, Executive Vice President, says the company had revenues of $800 million in 1991. Pretty spartan offices, with a small lobby/reception area. Anything unusual? Well, when walking into to meet CEO Michael McKenzie I couldn't help but notice the very large stuffed turkey (in full plumage) standing next to his desk. I told McKenzie finding a turkey in the CEO's office was a new one for me. McKenzie laughed and said he shot the bird on a hunting trip.


 Pilgrim's Pride Corporation

Pilgrim's Pride Corporation (1991 revenues $786 million) is into chickens. Pilgrim's Pride is a totally integrated broiler producer producing over 1,250,000 broilers per day, the 5th largest in the country (behind Tyson, Con-Agra, Gold Kist and Perdue). Corporate offices are in a company-owned, three-story building in Pittsburg, Texas, which is about 100 miles northeast of Dallas. Is the smell of chickens in the air? Yep, about a block way is a hatchery. What really smells is huge nearby feed mill. Railroad cars pull up to the mill, dump their loads, its mixed together and the end result is feed to fatten up those millions of chickens.

  Walking into the corporate offices, I'm greeted by a receptionist who sends me upstairs to see Mr. Pilgrim's secretary (yes, there IS a Mr. Pilgrim, matter of fact he does television commercials and I'm told he's quite the celebrity). I'm sent over to William Voss's secretary (Voss is the President), who tells me Voss is on the phone and for me to have a seat. What do I see as I'm sitting in the executive reception area? Lots of chickens; ceramic chickens, brass chickens and wood chickens on filing cabinets and desks. Paintings of chickens hanging on the walls and on the coffee table are paperback copies of a book on chicken recipe (the last page featured an ad by Pilgrim's Pride). Reading an annual report I find out Pilgrim's Pride is the second largest chicken producer in Mexico.

  After about a 45 minute wait, I'm sent back downstairs to talk to Robert Pearson, Senior Vice President-Human Resources, who showed no interest in my project. My request to see the Boardroom and Mr. Pilgrim's office were declined because "Mr. Pilgrim isn't in and he doesn't like people in his office or Boardroom unless he's there to show them around".


 Brookshire Grocery

Visiting Brookshire Grocery in Tyler, Texas didn't take long because I never made it past the security guards. The privately-held grocery store chain with an estimated $700 million in revenues has its general offices in with one of their distribution centers. Employees, visitors, trucks have to be cleared by guards before entering the grounds. The guards made several phone calls and were told by the man in charge of Public Relations/Corporate Communications that he was busy all week and I'd have to come back next week.

AFG Industries

Corporate headquarters for AFG Industries is on the 33rd floor of a 43-story, blue-glassed structure in downtown Ft. Worth. AFG Industries is a privately-held manufacturer of flat glass with 1990 revenues of $584 million (according to Forbes 400.) Approximately 17 people work in the corporate offices, which occupy about half of the 33rd floor. The reception area has a receptionist desk but no receptionist. A note by the phone on the front desk instructs visitors to announce themselves by phone. I notice several magazines in the reception area including "Quarter Weekly" (horses), "World Link," "Art of the West," "Leaders," and "Southwest Art."

The company has been headquartered in this building for four years. I ask Ann Pickett, Office Manager & Executive Secretary, why the company chose Ft. Worth for its headquarters. She’s not sure but gives me two possible answers—its central location and lack of state income taxes. I count eight Leroy Nieman paintings throughout the offices and hallways. R.D. Hubbard, the CEO, has eight pieces of art glass in his corner office including a piece by Peter Yenawine entitled "Manhattan" which depicts a skyline of skyscrapers in glass. Adjacent to Hubbard’s office is the Boardroom. In the middle of the boardroom table is a big bowl of Hall’s cough drops, which Hubbard reportedly eats year round. I’ve seen CEO’s with bowls of jellybeans, popcorn, nuts and various kinds of candy, but cough drops is a first.

A small army of uniformed, gun-carrying private security guards patrol/guard the building’s lobby and surrounding streets. Why? The billionaire Bass brothers own the building and have their corporate offices in this building and the one next door. In addition, the Bass brothers seem to own most of downtown Ft. Worth. One of the security guards tells me they patrol a 36-block area completely owned by the Basses. The 500-room Worthington Hotel I stayed at in downtown Ft. Worth is also Bass-owned. Surprisingly the Bass brothers do not own the tallest building in town (44-stories). I visited the corporate offices of the Bass brothers on my first corporate bicycle trek four years ago. At that time they told me they "didn’t want to participate."

Burlington Northern

Burlington Northern, with 1991 revenues of $4.56 billion leases space in a 40-story, blue-glassed similar to AFG’s building. According to Richard Russack, Vice President, the company occupies about 15 floors, with 1,800 employees working in the Ft. Worth area. The executive offices on the 38th floor are filled with western art and railroad memorabilia. CEO Gerald Grinstein has a great view of the surrounding area from his corner office. Grinstein’s office collection includes several miniature trains and half a dozen model jet planes. The planes date from his days as an executive in the airline industry. (For more information see: BNI)

On the Road in Midland/Lubbock/Amarillo, Texas


Boy, my visit to privately-held Insilco (over $600 million in revenues) was quick. The main reception area is on the 4th floor of a 12-story glass building in downtown Midland (population 70,000). The building looks to be the nicest in town. The receptionist sent me up to the 9th floor where, the CEO’s secretary met me. The secretary gave me a man's name to contact, said he was out of the office today and I'd have to come back tomorrow to see him. I tried explaining I was in town only for the day. My pleas fell on deaf ears. Insilco, with interests in electronics, metal fabricating, paint and communications is currently in Chapter 11.

The main reception area on the fourth floor does have something unusual on display: a mounted and framed collection of signatures from every President of the United States. From what the receptionist told me, the collection is worth quite a bit of money.

Plains Cotton Cooperative

Plains Cotton Cooperative Association is headquartered about four miles from downtown Lubbock in a 60,000 square foot, one-story building. Built in 1960, about 135 employees work in the plainly-furnished company-owned structure. With revenues of $718 million in 1991, the cotton farmers co-operative has clout. Why is PCCA located in Lubbock? Because this is cotton-growing country. Jim Taylor, Director of Administration, answered questions and showed me around. Levi Strauss is the co-op's biggest customer. Who does PCCA consider to be their competition? The country of Pakistan. The company has an impressive array of computers, allowing them to keep abreast of what's happening in the world of cotton.

Texas Tech University (25,000 students), located near downtown Lubbock, has a large (3,500 acres) and good-looking campus. Lubbock's local newspaper is called the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Furrs, Inc.

The corporate offices of Furrs, Inc., a privately-held supermarket chain, were suppose to be in a downtown Lubbock office building. Arriving at the address, I was told by an employee in Accounting that corporate offices are now in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'll be going through New Mexico next year.

Mesa Limited Partnership

Walking into the downtown Amarillo offices of Mesa Limited Partnership, I was ticked off to find out the corporate offices had moved to Dallas. "Your kidding", I said, "I just spent three weeks there visiting companies". How long ago did this happen? Its been about two years, said the receptionist. Well, so much for my getting to meet Boone Pickens.

Cactus Feeders, Inc.

Did you know Cactus Feeders, Inc., with a one-time feeding capacity of over 300,000 head of cattle, is the largest privately-held commercial feeding operation in the world? Forty-five employees work in the corporate offices, which are in a four-story, company-owned building about a half mile from downtown Amarillo. Where did the company's name originate? One of feedyards is located in Cactus, Texas.

The small lobby area has several FAKE cactus. Paul Engler, CEO, has two fake cactus in his office along with a neon cactus and two stuffed quail. The large picture on the wall behind Engler's desk is the most unusual item in his office; it's a picture showing the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun. As Engler's secretary pointed out-wherever you stand in Engler's office, the barrel seems to be pointing as you.

Though Engler wasn't in, there're quite a few pictures of him around his office. He's in his fifty's and in every picture he's wearing cowboy clothes and LOOKS like a cowboy. So, I was kind of taken back when his secretary said Engler has a yacht in Ft. Lauderdale and a home in the Virgin Islands. The company has a helicopter and a Cessna.

Southwestern Public Service Company

Southwestern Public Service Company (1991 revenues: $725 million) leases 18 floors in the tallest building in Amarillo. The building is 31-stories, with the 30th and 31st floors being occupied by a private club; Amarillo Club.

Bill Helton, CEO, has a corner office on the 29th floor. He can see for miles but, there ain't much to see. Helton has a very firm handshake. Why do I mention this? It's something I've been tracking. You'd be surprised at the number of CEO's who have "wimpy" handshakes. I also check to see if they look me in the eye while shaking hands.