KINGSVILLE, Texas — There are many of us who love calling the Coastal Bend home and Burt Bull of Riviera is definitely one of them.
He began making a name for himself years ago and now he'd like to have both of his sons work alongside him. One, in fact, already does. So will the business soon become a family affair?
At Taqueria Jalisco in Kingsville, we met Bull who’s not only proud of his family but also the place he calls home.
"I lived in, almost my whole life in Riviera, almost my whole life and still reside there,” Burt Bull told us.
Just from listening to Bull for a few minutes, one can tell he loves the Coastal Bend and Riviera in particular.
“The culture here is fantastic,” he adds.
He's a native son who's proud to call Riviera home.
“Went to school there and worked after school, summer jobs and things like that, with all my friends, just like everyone else in the community did,” Bull recalls.
And it's that sense of community that brought Bull's family to Riviera in the first place.
"My father came here when he was four from Oklahoma during the Great Depression and my mother’s family came to South Texas probably in the teens, maybe 1920, somewhere in there, from San Angelo,” Bull says about how the family came to call Riviera home.
Bull would eventually graduate from Riviera high school and then on to what was then called Texas A&I. He never did graduate since he was at school during one semester and working the next.
But then? He and a couple of friends had an idea that would change their lives forever.
“When we started, it looks in retrospect that we had this grand idea and major plans at all,” Bull said. “We didn't have a plan.”
When asked how the company did, Bull told us, "It did well. We were very, very blessed.”
Turns out that mud and chemical business idea would become a huge money maker.
"When we last sold the business, it was over 100 million a year in sales,” he said with a smile on his face. "We started producing based on what customers told us they needed and wanted.”
We wanted to know what he thought about the customer always being right, as is so often said.
He said yes. "And so that is capitalism at its purest. What your customer wants, he's king.”
The customers may be kings, as Bull says, though at the same time, he recognized he had some help from above.
"I think God had a hand in it for sure,” Bull said. “But we were motivated by money. If somebody wanted something and we could make it, we try to make it with the cost basis that we could make a profit.”
After making that profit and selling the company, Bull turned to ranching with his wife and their-then two young sons by his side.
These days, Dillard is now 25 and runs some of the operations at the ranch.
His 20-year-old brother, Bryson, is still in school at Texas A&M College Station.
"And he's enrolled in Mays Business School and he's doing really, really well,” Bull said with pride. “Both of them are.”
When asked if he wanted his boys working alongside him working at the ranch, “I do if they do.” Adding, "They always have. They've always been involved in the ranching side of it.”
We asked Bull if he thought it would be a family affair.
"No blessing like a man who has his children. His son is working with him and that may be forever, maybe not, it's their path to live. But they've been exposed to it, they like it, so I think it will always be a part of their lives,” Bull told us.
So what advice does Bull have for people who don’t have a tight-knit family like his?
"Well, because your family is part of that, that's everlasting and you can always figure out how to make a living that involves allowing you to being around your family more,” he said.
As for Bryson coming to work at the ranch, it sounds like that might happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.