Those of us who have small family businesses can tell you that working together with people we love and know so well is a journey filled with highs and lows, laughter and tears, success and failure.
In 1996, more than 20 years before starting our business in Navarro County, my husband Houston had begun another family business. He and his brother started an audio company in Atlanta, Georgia, with just the two of them. The company, Clark, soon branched out to include video and lighting. Their AVL (audio, video and lighting) firm saw incredible growth, almost overnight. Before we knew it, Houston was able to quit his day job and work full-time at Clark. As they began doing business across the US, Houston was on a plane sometimes two or three times a week and often from one coast to the other.
As the company grew to over 100 employees and contractors all over the United States and in Europe, Houston began experiencing real challenges with his health. He struggled to keep a handle on the Type II diabetes he’d been battling for 15 years. Then in 2015 he had a heart attack. A quadruple bypass came four years later.
Houston and I had intended for Purdon Groves to be a platform - sort of a segway - for us to stay active into retirement. We thought Houston would continue working for Clark and we’d be able to manage our property part-time and pay for others to do the physical labor on the farm. Boy, were we mistaken! With Houston’s health as our priority, we agreed on an early retirement plan. Work on the farm began in earnest that next year, with less of a nest egg than we’d hoped for. Armed with hard earned wisdom - namely everyone pitches in and does what needs to be done and payday for the owners is a hope, not a guarantee - we started Purdon Groves.
The first few years our daughter was a vital part of our team, growing produce in the ground and in hydroponic towers. These days it’s mostly just Houston and me working on our property. We’ve divided up responsibilities so that he takes care of anything to do with the livestock and the land and I’m in charge of glamping, events and marketing. That’s the plan at least. But when one of us is sick or can’t be here, the other one picks up the slack. That’s what partners do.
We’ve had our share of challenges over the past several years since starting our business, but I can honestly tell you that everything we’ve experienced has brought us closer as a couple. Is it easy? Heck no! Is it worth it? Yes.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the October 29, 2023 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.