Group honors Brookshire Grocery Co. for leadership
A group that works to improve the entrepreneurial and leadership skills of youth in East Texas awarded the Brookshire Grocery Co. with its highest honor Thursday evening.
Junior Achievement works to inspire and prepare youth to compete in a global economy through hands-on experiences designed to give students skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, according to a news release from the organization.
Each year, the organization awards the Laureate of the Year award to an individual or business that represents the organization's cornerstones. Induction into the Business Hall of Fame is the greatest honor given by JA, according to the news release.
Brookshire Grocery Co. was founded in downtown Tyler by Wood T. and Louis Brookshire in 1928. The small building was 25 feet by 100 feet.
As the company grew, it opened the first air-conditioned grocery store in the county, and currently maintains more than 150 stores in three states. That includes 119 Brookshire's, 32 Super 1 Foods and FRESH by Brookshire's, which opened in 2011. Smith County also is home to the company's headquarters and distribution center -- a $1.3 million operation.
In 85 years, the company has grown from a small mom-and-pop store to employing 13,700 employees, about 2,500 of which are in Smith County.
"They really embody the values of JA -- entrepreneurship, free enterprise, hard work and a willingness to take risks -- and I couldn't think of a more appropriate company that Brookshire's Grocery Company," said Jim Thompson, JA board chairman.
Chad Cargile, JA board member and Region's Bank president, said he was excited Brookshire's was granted the honor. He said they are a company with a heart.
"Brookshire's Grocery Company is well known for their outstanding contributions to the Tyler community and for being a role model for all aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs," Cargile said in the news release. "(Its) actions and support embody the spirit of what JA represents as an organization, which is to inspire and prepare young people for our global economy."
Junior Achievement uses volunteers from the community to teach programs and serve as examples of leadership.
The organization anticipates teaching over 3,500 students in the Tyler area in 172 classrooms this year. And since its inception in 1988, more than 90,000 students have been affected, the news release states.
Jim Guay, executive director for JA, said it has all the funding it needs to operate its programs, but there still is a need for more volunteers.
"It's easy to be a JA volunteer," he said. "It only takes 30 to 45 minutes 5, 6 or 7 different times, depending if it's an elementary, junior high or high school program. JA provides all the materials for you with orientation, activity plans, everything that you need to go in and make such a lasting impact on these kids."
As Trent Brookshire, senior vice president and division manager, introduced his father Brad Brookshire, the chairman of GBC, he agreed to be the first volunteer for JA.
"It's a pleasure and it's an honor to be up here ... to introduce my father. ... But it's also inspiring to see people who care about Tyler, and I think Brookshire's is one entity out of many that represents that caringness," Trent Brookshire said.
And as Brad Brookshire took stage, he also agreed to volunteer. He also presented the organization with a $20,000 donation.
Brad Brookshire said the company's success was thwarted by hiring quality employees with work ethics and skills. He said some of the company's executives started from the bottom sacking groceries. The company employs 530 people between 16 and 20-year-old, and they can end up anywhere with the right drive and dedication.
"Junior Achievement is something our young people need, and they need our support ..." Brad Brookshire said. "On behalf of Brookshire Grocery Co., we really appreciate the recognition and the award, but we thank you for the job that you do in Junior Achievement."