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Last Update: Thursday September 21, 2017

Key Idea: Take the Plunge

Lupe Fraga was able to buy a business when the owner offered to carry the financing, his girlfriend made him a loan and his Mom let him live at home.  Today his is married to Irene, the girl who helped him get started, and they have built Tejas Office up over $40 million in annual sales.       More...

Key Question:

A: 

Imagine what was going through Lupe's mind during that fateful conversation with Jim Kindig so many years ago.

Here was Lupe, just back from the Army, gainfully employed as a bookkeeper and engaged to be married. He probably wasn't impassioned with the thought of office supplies and perhaps he had never even thought about owning his own business. But there was Jim, presenting the opportunity.

Q: 
What drives a person to give up the security of a full time job for the opportunity to be a business owner?

A:
  Freedom. Freedom to be your own boss, make your own decisions, do things your own way. Joy. The joy of creating something that is truly yours. Entrepreneurs are creative and innovative; they are fearless in their willingness to experiment, to try new ideas. Exhilaration. The rush of your successes in knowing that you did it, you really, really did it.

Q:
What are the risks/rewards of being a business owner?

A: The biggest risk is the risk of failure. Loss of security, literally not knowing the size of your next paycheck, or if there will be one! The potential struggle of those early years as you grow your business can be enormously stressful. What if Irene had said "no" to Lupe's loan request and he had not had the money for that week's payroll? What would he have done? How long could he have lasted without returning to his job as an accountant? And how would he have felt if he had to?

Fortunately, these are all rhetorical questions. But the possibilities were real. Business ownership is not for the fainthearted. Four out of five small businesses fail. But the rewards to the one in five that is successful are enormous, and the contemplation of those rewards is enticement enough to many of us.

Think about it

What should you jump into? What should you jump out of?

Clip from: Tejas Office Supply is all Texan.

Houston: Texans are resilient and resourceful, and people of deep faith.  When Hurricane Ike struck, they began turning to each other to  pull through thiat  storm together.  Pictured above is Lupe Fraga.  He came with his family to Houston as a young boy and grew up as a Texan.

He captures the spirit of this part of the world.

In 1962 Lupe Fraga left his bookkeeping job to buy an office supply business but steady profits did not come quickly. Today, over 150 employees turn $40 million a year making Tejas Office one of the largest minority - owned businesses in the greater Houston area.
 
He borrowed some of the start-up capital from Irene, his girl friend; and, the owner financed the purchase. He married Irene -- "the best thing I ever did in my life" -- and then he learned  profits do not come easily.

This is a family business. Michelle is their first born; and the day we met her, she was busy teaching a new manager and leading a customer service training session. Alisa, the middle child, handles human resources and says that caring can be measured on the bottomline.  Stephen, the youngest Fraga says that they all wear many hats. Stephen followed in his father's footsteps and graduated from Texas A & M. Rather than coming to work at Tejas Office right from school, Lupe encouraged him to work for a large company which he did for two years before joining Tejas in 1998.

Named by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas A&M Board of Regents and currently Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank Dallas-Houston, Lupe also volunteers for the Greater Houston Partnership and The United Way.

Tejas Office

Lupe Fraga, Owner

1225 W. 20th Street
Houston, TX 77080
7138646004

Visit our web site: http://www.tejasoffice.com

Office: 7138646004

Business Classification:
Office Supplies

Year Founded: 1961

Take the Plunge

HATTIE: Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. And this is SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL. Every week right here, we tell you the truth about business, real, small business owners telling you their secrets.

Step into our Master Class with Lupe Fraga and see for yourself how a bookkeeper-turned-business owner has built a company with elbow grease and love.

HATTIE: So whatever happened to the paperless office?

LUPE FRAGA: Right. Exactly. Hey, this has been one of the biggest, biggest misconceptions. We're selling more paper now than we ever have. We make your business day easier.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) ... is the slogan of Lupe's company, Tejas Office Products, which has been operating in Houston since 1961. If you need something to run your office, Tejas will find it and deliver it to your desk.

Unidentified Woman #1: One moment.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Hundreds of customers can order via phone, fax or the Internet, and they will be taken care of by some 50 employees. While dozens of small office supply companies have either fallen off the edge or been absorbed by the big guys, this company is growing. Lupe's sales have increased 40 percent over last year, bringing the total to $7.5 million for the last 12 months.

LUPE: I was practicing as an accountant for Platoplex, Incorporated, a pipeline coating company here.

HATTIE: Are you a CPA?

LUPE: No, I'm not. I was doing accounting. And Jim Kindig, who had an office supply company, was servicing this company and he came to me and he asked me if I was interested in going into the office supply business. So being single and just having returned from the United States Army serving in France, I said, `Why not?' So I took the opportunity. He loaned me some money, co-signed the note at the bank. Had one delivery truck and one secretary, and that started me out.

HATTIE: You bought his business.

LUPE: Yes.

HATTIE: ...and he financed it for you.

LUPE: Yes. So I said to myself, `Listen, this is still not working out that well. I'm going to need a little more money.' So I had a fiancee, Irene, my wife, who was interested, of course, hopefully, in me making it. So I said, `Irene, I really need a couple of thousand dollars. That would really help me to meet my payroll this week. And could you help me out?' She did. I have never repaid the loan back, but I'm just wondering how much interest I owe her.

HATTIE: Did you think you'd ever get it back?

IRENE FRAGA: I didn't even think about it. I gave it to him.

HATTIE: You were 19 years old? IRENE: About 19, 20.

HATTIE: Where did you get $2,000 when you were 19 years old?

IRENE: I did very good in tips in what I did.

HATTIE: OK. You were a hairdresser and you earned it yourself. You earned it yourself.

IRENE: Yes.

HATTIE: So you loaned your hard-earned money to this young, handsome man that you were in love with who says, `Oh, gosh, I have a cash flow crunch. Do you have any cash?' IRENE: Yes.

HATTIE: And you loaned him your hard-earned money.

IRENE: Yes. Even when I was working, I always gave my mom some money. I didn't have everything when I was growing up. We were poor, but I saved.
 
 

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