By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition July 2019
The invitation read, “Matt’s is celebrating 50 years in business, and we are throwing a big party”. That sounded exciting and like a great opportunity, because how many businesses have the privilege of staying in business for that long? Not many, and those that make it, Congratulations!
Danny Smith, the current owner of the company, spoke to Texas Border Business in Exclusivity during the celebration.
In a way, the beginning of the company is part of the history of South Texas. In 1967, there was a lot of devastation caused by Hurricane Beulah, the strongest storm during the Atlantic hurricane season. According to records, the hurricane made landfall just north of the mouth of the Rio Grande River as a Category 3 hurricane. It spawned 115 tornadoes across Texas. Due to its slow movement over Texas, Beulah led to significant flooding.
Throughout its path, at least 59 people were killed, and total damage reached $234.6 million (1967 USD), of which $200 million occurred in the United States, $26.9 million occurred in Mexico, and $7.65 million occurred in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
In 1969, the company was formed in San Benito Texas as Matt’s Cash & Carry and started supplying the needed materials to rebuild the Valley. It was indeed a hard time for both sides of the border, this reporter remembers well the devastation. Other companies like Matt’s were also helping in the rebuilding
Back then, Cecil McDonald was the original founder. He was a storm chaser, he built lumber yards after disasters, and after Hurricane Beulah, he opened the store first in San Benito.
Through the years, the name was modified to Matt’s Building Materials. Pharr and San Benito were the first two locations, and in 2015, they branched out to Palmview.
In case you didn’t know, Matt’s Building Materials is the oldest lumberyard still in existence in the Rio Grande Valley. Multiple lumber yards are now in operation Valley-wide, mostly nationals. Fortunately, the Smiths know their business well, but above all, they know their customers better. Customers continue to come back because of their unique personal blend of services.
As I had a chance to speak to Danny Smith, the patriarch of the company I asked, are you the owner?
“One of the owners,” he said. “I and my sons, Isaac, Jeremy, and Benjamin Smith.”
“God has been good. He’s perfect for us. We’re just sharing with the boys, having a pretty big celebration.” He continued, “There’s a lot of highly capitalized competition, and we have done good; the boys have done well. When they all came into business, one thing I told them to avoid the sense of entitlement. I think that’s the worst thing that happens to businesses, they think, “Hey, I’m local. I am entitled to business. I’m family. I’m entitled to business.” You got to go out and earn the business every single day,” he said emphatically.
Mr. Smith says that he approaches life as a Christian. “I believe you’re called to go out and work as hard as you can, as smart as you can. Work with integrity, then you leave the results to God. And God chose to bless us. Now I do believe we’ve always tried to pass blessings on. We’ve tried to bless other people.”
Mr. Smith said that his way of doing business is simple. “Treat people right, because you need and want their business. Do it in a way that you feel you deserve their business, do it in an honest, open way. Adding the value, that’s a given,” he said.
Their blend of services formula to keep their customers coming also includes: give the best price, the best service, and make sure that you’re servicing the customer 100% with all you got.
Mr. Smith said that they have a specific niche. He takes pride in knowing their customers really well for the simple reason that they have been here for a long time. “We carry products that fit their needs.”
“Being in business,” he said, “is to change regularly, readapting and improving service, price, and selection. “At the end of the day, it’s always about relationships and about how we treat our customers, vendors, and employees. This comes back to us four-fold with the blessings that we have, because everything comes from God. Everything good comes from God.”
Congratulations! From your friends at Texas Border Business and Mega Doctor News.