- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By JEFF PARISH
Paris had a few requests for tax abatements on projects at local businesses, but first the city has to adopt a policy to establish one.
“We’re required to renew these policies every couple of years. We’re behind current, I guess you could say,” PEDC Director Steve Gilbert said at a board meeting Tuesday. “We want to try to streamline the process and make it less complicated, but we want to make sure we’ve got everybody covered.”
The City Council plans to take up the policy on June 25. The Paris Economic Development Corp. board of directors was scheduled to consider a new, revised version Tuesday. Instead, they opted to renew the old policy and take a longer look at revising it later.
“The big change there – the simplification – in the new policy we’re proposing to just negotiate on each project how much we’ll abate rather than trying to make it fit the chart,” Gilbert said.
The draft policy was created after a review of other cities’ recent policies, which showed a trend toward much simpler documents with more case-by-case negotiation rather than a set of criteria.
“That’s what we did in Fairview and Rowlett. Everything was a potential horsetrade,” said new City Manager John Godwin, who was attending his first PEDC meeting. “We weren’t trying to horsetrade for three entities. That’s the difference here.”
Board member Bruce Carr said that approach could lead to a sense of unfairness because “you treated Billy Bob differently than you did XYZ Company over there.”
“In our original policy, we had a chart,” Gilbert said, holding up the policy and showing a copy of the chart, which shows a range of capital investments, payroll and jobs created by a project. “This is criteria to make sure a project qualifies and at what level we might be willing to abate.”
When the old policy was created, it exempted existing industry from the chart’s requirements. Most requests were large enough that they fell into a different category of individual negotiation, anyway.
A lot of research, time and effort went into drafting the policy four years ago, said Dr. Pamela Anglin, Paris Junior College president. The PEDC, Commissioners Court, City Council and PJC all had a hand in creating it. The charts gave the policy a structure that made approval across all related governing bodies easier.
“We had the guidelines. We knew it fit,” Anglin said. “If it’s negotiable, the city and PEDC always take the lead. But if it’s all up for negotiation, there’s no guarantee the college and county will approve it.”
The chart also created problems, Gilbert noted. For example, if a project had a capital investment of $2 million and added around 50 jobs, that put it into two different categories, one that offered a 30-percent abatement over three years, while the other could earn 90 percent.
“Would we split the difference and give them 60 percent?” he asked.
“You give them the most advantageous,” Anglin responded.
Given the time requirements and the doubts over the open nature of the new draft policy, the board decided to reapprove the old policy.
The board also approved forming a working group to review the policy and draft a new one within the next 90 days. The committee would include the Lamar County judge, PJC president, Lamar County Appraisal District chief appraiser, city manager and PEDC director or their designees. Carr said it would be a good idea for Godwin to be involved in the process to bring ideas from other communities.
Godwin said he would sit in rather than designating someone else.
“It’s a bit inconvenient to do it this way because it requires us to do it a couple of times,” Carr said. “But it ensures we’re going to do it the right way.”
From North Main Street, Williams Brothers Auto Salvage doesn’t look like much — a long, plain brown metal building with few windows or doors. But it’s got a long history of serving the do-it-yourself drivers of Lamar County.
“The yard itself has been here over 60 years,” Manager Michael Arney said. “We bought it about five years ago.”
Williams Brothers is owned by Julio Nathal, who runs several such salvage yards in North Texas. It was purchased from Jack Williams, who started the business with brother Gilbert as Williams Brothers Wrecking Yard in 1953. Gilbert died in 1984, and Jack ran the yard until he retired in 2007. He died in 2010.
The operation has been in continuous operation ever since its inception. By the mid-1970s, Williams Brothers offered a glass shop and 24-hour wrecker service.
Today, the property takes up about 26 acres, although the salvage yard only uses three or so — about 200 cars. There are no definite plans for the remainder of the property yet.
It’s a small yard, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find the part you want. Williams Brothers has access to online locators to help hunt down those hard-to-find replacements.
“That’s a free service for the customer,” Arney said. “If we don’t have a part, we’ll locate it for them.”
Of course, that works both ways. Most of the salvage yard’s business is walk-in, but roughly a quarter involves shipping parts to other towns, and even states. About 40 percent of the overall business is wholesale.
Williams Brothers is located at 2255 N Main St., just inside the loop. While such an in-town establishment may be somewhat rare in this part of Texas, Arney said it’s no big deal in the Dallas area. He’s been in the auto parts business for more than 25 years, including more than a decade in auto salvage.
“We’re pretty much an all-purpose yard, foreign and domestic,” Arney said. “I’ll buy anything so long as we can come to an agreement on a fair price.”
It’s harder to find late-model cars for the salvage yard, he said. A lot of that seems to wind up south of Interstate 30 in the larger auctions.
As a full-service yard, Williams Brothers sells a lot of different parts, from engines and transmissions to dome lights and wheels. The most common, Arney said, are suspension and body parts.
“The most irritating thing I get is Toyota hubcaps. I had over 600 people looking for Toyota hubcaps last year,” he said, explaining that Toyota cars are usually high quality, but the hubcaps won’t stay on the wheel. “You feel bad for the people because you can’t fill the order.”
Arney fields calls and in-person requests all day. He rarely has to consult the computer before rattling off what he has available and whether it’ll suit the customer’s needs.
“Being as small a yard as this is, it’s easy to keep it all in your head,” he said. “Not everything is on the computer. You get down to some of the smaller parts, and it’s just experience from going out there and looking over and over and over.”
Whatever price a customer is quoted includes the cost of pulling the part off.
The vehicles are usually purchased at auction, coming from impound lots or after accidents. And they’re rarely empty, containing all sorts of knick-knacks, toys, books and clothing. That’s one of the lowest points in the salvage business, Arney said.
“You get sad when you see what is basically a child’s life in a car,” he said. “You know every one of these cars has got a story. All you can do is speculate on it.”
After a car comes in, employees remove all the fluids and test whatever parts they can. Then the parts go into an inventory in the computer system. For all its low-tech look, the salvage business is heavily computerized.
Old cars are crushed every month based on what parts are left and how valuable it is remaining on the lot.
One thing that seems to surprise people about the business is how “green” it is, Arney said. He pulled out a three-inch notebook full of the policies and procedures they follow. It’s also why there’s so much vegetation around the cars — it helps filter any water that drains off the salvage yard. And Williams Brothers is part of a voluntary program where they pull all the mercury that may be in the car and dispose of it to keep it out of the environment.
And contrary to what a lot of people think, Arney said, the business does give refunds on many parts.
“That used to be true,” he said. “Once someone got a hold of your dollar, it was hard to get it back.”
But the industry has had to change.
“Your reputation is all word of mouth, especially in a small town like this. If you lose your reputation, you’ve lost everything,” he said. “I’m trying to make a living. I’m not trying to make a killing.”
For more information, look up Williams Brothers Auto Salvage online at www.williamsbrotherssalvage.com.
The Small Business Development Center at Paris Junior College will offer a free seminar as well as free counseling for current and prospective small business owners in the Paris area during the month of June, according to Director Bradley Gottshalk.
Create Your Own Job – Start Your Own Business will be offered from 9-11 a.m. on Friday, June 1. This free workshop will include information needed to start a small business. Topics will include legal requirements, the different forms of business organization and their advantages and disadvantages, conducting a feasibility study, writing a business plan, getting a sales tax permit, types of financing available for a start-up business, and what lenders want to know, as well as information on SBA guaranteed loan programs.
The seminar is held at the Bobby R. Walters Workforce Training Center.
Free, confidential counseling to start or expand a small business is available by appointment between 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 903-782-0224 to make an appointment.
Free training for small businesses is now being offered through two grant programs from Texas Workforce Commission.
Through the Skills for Small Business Grant, owners and their employees can apply for free tuition to take any Paris Junior College course, credit or non-credit (limited to $1,450 for new employees and $725 for existing employees).
Through the Entrepreneurial Training Grant, business owners or persons interested in starting a new business can apply for free training (limit of $500 per person). Call the Paris Small Business Development Center at 903-782-0224 for details on how to take advantage of these limited-time training grant programs awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The Small Business Development Center is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of Texas, and Paris Junior College.
Pictured accepting one of the Land Grants are Sr. Vice President Debbie Lewis (right) and Greg Wilson of Lamar National Bank, and Elizabeth Hayden (left).
Original Texas land grants bearing the signatures of Sam Houston, first President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second President of Texas, and Anson Jones the fourth and final President of Texas as well as an original 1852 map of Texas by Eppinger & Baker have been donated to Lamar National Bank by Mrs. Elizabeth and the late Dr. William deG. Hayden.
The pieces were given to Lamar National Bank from the renowned collection of the Elizabeth and William Hayden Museum of Art by Mrs. Hayden noting that they were fitting of the Texas-style décor of the bank and would be on display for the public in a safe environment.
“With much gratitude and humility, we accept these much valued Texas artifacts. They will most certainly be an excellent enhancement to our traditional Texas architecture and interior design,” said senior vice president Debbie Lewis.
The land grants were purchased by Dr. Hayden in 1986 at auction for the Hayden Museum of Art. The map was a gift to the Museum given by Mary Ruth Biard whose ancestors were part of the original settlers of this area.
Dr. Hayden, a preservationist, collector, visionary, athlete, and caregiver passed away in April of 2010.
Upon his death the Museum was closed by his wife, who has worked to insure the curated works have found homes appropriate to their worth for the enjoyment of all.
May 23, 2012
Effective immediately, the Red River Region Business Incubator is implementing a new application process intended to accelerate the acceptance procedure and provide enhanced service to startup and early stage business owners. The program works in conjunction with the Paris Small Business Development Center (SBDC), but creates a pre-screening process that makes finding the right resources more timely and efficient.
Anyone intending to start up a new business or is a current owner of an early stage business can potentially benefit from the mentoring and training provided by R3bi. Those business owners who do not require the intensive incubator program may benefit from the no charge counseling of the SBDC.
The FREE screening from R3bi can help identify the areas where assistance is available. The R3bi Pre-App process is the shortest path to a working business plan and functional financial projections required by lending institutions.
In 2011, 997 new businesses were started in the five counties in our trade area. Government studies show that about 20%, fewer than 200, will have long term sustainability. These same studies report that 88% of business emerging from an incubator program are still in business after five years.
R3bi is a partner of the Paris Economic Development Corporation charged with entrepreneurial and small business owner skills development. The R3bi resident program mentors a business owner and improves business skills to insure the sustainability of the business.
For more information on the no charge pre application process, contact R3bi Director, Fred Green at 903-905-4979 or visit our web site, www.r3bi.org. For information on the Paris SBDC program, contact SBDC Director, Brad Gottshalk at 903-782-0224 or visit the SBDC website. www.sbdcparis.org.