Shortly after graduating from the University of Texas, I began dating a handsome young man, our very own James Gill. Months after we started dating, we got the idea (from one of James’ friends, honestly) of starting a landscape business. I went to my parents and told them of our plans. The looks on their faces were priceless. I’m sure they were thinking…and our daughter is doing what? It didn’t take my dad long to come around to the idea of his daughter going into business for herself. And yes, James and I got married. The first year we operated with no outside financial assistance. I sold my car, we combined what little savings we had and between landscape jobs we threw newspapers for the Corpus Christi Caller Times. It wasn’t until the second year of business we realized the value of a retail garden center, which required land and more money.
I’ll never forget the day James, my dad and I visited every banker we knew in town, presenting our business plan, doing our best to sell the idea to the bank, hoping someone would loan us the money to buy the land we had found on Airline to build our store. It was a tough day; no one was interested. Eventually, after much number crunching, and consulting with my dad, we borrowed money from my parents and James’ parents, thank goodness. For the record we did pay them both back in short order. Interest rates at the time ran around 18%; crazy!
Besides helping to finance Gill’s early years, my dad also spent many evenings with James and me at his engineering firm, teaching us accounting. Now, that was painful! James and I knew absolutely nothing of debits and credits.
Another critical thing my dad helped us with was the layout of our garden center, including setting a good grade on our Airline property so that when it rained, it would drain. Believe me, James and I have visited many a garden center with puddles throughout due to poor drainage. It hurt when he said we needed 35 truckloads of soil, but we did it, and have been forever grateful to him for his advice.
Most importantly, I have to thank my dad, “Daddy”, for setting a good example for me. Many, many people over the years have told me how much they liked working with Roy because of his strong character and commitment to doing a good job for his clients. He was honest, he treated his co-workers and clients with respect and he did what he said he would do.
I am very thankful to my dad for his support, his advice, his encouragement, his love, and I celebrate his life this very special weekend! I wish all whose dads are still around a joyful Father’s Day celebration!