Food, football and family take center stage for most Americans at Thanksgiving. For the Whites of Weatherford, family is always at the forefront.
Co-owner of Texas Butane, a propane company that just celebrated its 65th year in existence, Judy White, 75, said working with her family has provided the Whites a unique opportunity to spend time together at the holidays regardless of anybody’s circumstances.
“We enjoy our family, and sometimes we don’t get to see them outside of business as much as we would like to,” Judy said. “Thanksgiving is a time when we all come together, and we’re just a family then. Now somebody may be fielding calls or worrying about something, but we come together as a family and enjoy those few days.”
Judy said Thanksgiving is a very special time in the White household, even if on occasion it is not held in the White household.
“They usually come to my house,” Judy said. “We have three sons that have kids themselves. We have a building here that we call the Propane Club, which is a warehouse right behind our office. We use it for training. Sometimes we’ll have it up there, and we’ll have the best time, because it is huge. But most of the time, we’ll have it at JuJu and Paw Paw’s house.”
And apparently, one of Judy’s recipes, her famous Green Bean Bundles, are a Thanksgiving favorite.
Judy White’s Green Bean Bundles
2 cans whole green beans
Dash of garlic salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
Easy and delicious. Wrap 10 green beans in 1/2 slice of bacon and place in shallow baking dish. Melt butter and mix with brown sugar, then pour over all the bundles of beans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
“All of the kids and grandkids love it,” Judy said. “And as the granddaughters have gotten older and started their own traditions with their own families, they all seem to want to make green bean bundles. But just remember, you do have to cook it in a propane oven!”
Thanksgiving is also a time for friends and neighbors, and Judy’s husband (and co-owner) Morris, 79, said that these people are the other part of the equation that has equaled Texas Butane’s staying power since the middle of the last century.
“It goes back to growing up in the community where you get to know everybody,” Morris said. “The people who are older than you and younger than you that you go to school with. Whenever we’d go to football games when our kids were in athletics, I remember they would get to know these people that move in that are not in our age group, but their age group.
“It’s important and a pleasure to have friends throughout all of the different generations, and my kids now, as they are raising their kids, they are doing the same thing. We make it a point, from generation to generation, to keep up with what’s going on in the propane business and what’s happening in the community.”
Judy said she truly believes that Texas Butane’s success can be attributed to the values that she and Morris, who have been married for 58 years, instilled in their children and grandchildren when it comes to things like work ethic, respect for others and loyalty to the family and to their customers.
“A lot of it is the fact that we are family owned and operated,” White said. “Our three sons work here, our granddaughters work here, so when we say we are a family business, we mean a family business. We take a great interest in our customers, and they are not just numbers to us. Some of them have been here for years. We’re on to the fourth generation of families sometimes.”
Judy and Morris’ son, Judd, along with his two brothers, Rod and Todd, are proud to carry the mantle and say it is important they do well at their work.
“I think it is just tradition in the family,” Judd said. “You see your parents do it and your grandparents do it, and you honestly don’t think about anything else when you grow up. I wanted to continue the tradition. I’ve seen them work so hard at it, and all I want to do is a good job. I’ve been here 25 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Judd, 48, said he has never considered doing anything else.
“I just want to keep it going and pass it down, especially in today’s environment,” Judd said. “There are fewer and fewer small, family businesses that actually care. I would just hate to send my kids off to work somewhere else and have them become a cog in the wheel of a corporation that doesn’t care about them. That’s the nice thing about working for your family is that they care about you.
“It not only makes you want to succeed in the business, obviously, but it’s a great environment to raise your kids, and watch them grow and be successful.”
And it would seem the company’s future is in good hands.
Judy said a few years back, she and her mother took her grandson out for the day, and he informed them that he already felt quite confident about what his future held in store.
“We were riding down the street, and Mother and I were always talking propane,” White said. “It didn’t matter when or where, we would talk about the old customers and propane and all, and Judd’s son, who is 11 now, was sitting in the back seat. He was probably 4 years old at the time, and he said, ‘Ju, I think I know what I want to do when I grow up.’ And I said, ‘Well, Charlie, what is it?’ And he said, ‘I think I’d like to be the boss at Texas Butane.’ So that’s really how it goes. And I thought, ‘Little do you know, that you are the boss at Texas Butane.’”