At PIERCE we don’t see numbers. We see family members who make great equipment for their hardworking friends to get the job done. From 1976 to 2016, PIERCE employees became a family and our customers became our friends. This year we celebrate 40 years of friendship with you and we felt it was time to share our complex story. An interview with Jeff Pierce suffices as the source for the story of how PIERCE became the incorporation it is today. Let’s walk through the PIERCE history together in this four part story.
In the summer of 1975, after his junior year of college at Texas Tech University, Jeff Pierce returned to his home in Henrietta to get a job selling used cars in Wichita Falls. Jeff worked there less than a week during the day and then was given the night shift to work the lot all by himself from 6 to 10 p.m. By the end of the summer, Jeff was selling more cars during the night shift than all the other salesmen were during the day.
Jeff returned to school to finish his Entomology degree. During his senior year, Jeff went to an Entomology convention in El Paso. As he began to talk to the different scientists about their careers he decided against pursuing a career in that field. Jeff recalled the life changing decision saying, “I didn’t want that lifestyle. I liked selling.” Jeff finished what he started and graduated with the Entomology degree, but he knew that he wanted to sell. After graduation he returned to Henrietta and asked his dad, George Pierce, to help him start a business. George was an Air Force veteran that had many jobs on the side and an eye for business.
In 1976, Jeff and his dad went to the newly built Highway 287 just south of Henrietta. They had the option of buying land on either side of the freeway so Jeff and George spent the day waving at cars on both sides to see which side was more visible. Looking back Jeff jokes that, “it was a real high-tech survey.” The north side of the highway had more waves. Jeff and George considered it the friendliest stretch of highway so they purchased 10 acres of the land.
After the land was bought, Jeff spent the summer welding the first 30 x 80 ft2 building himself. Once it was furnished and fenced, Jeff didn’t have any money to buy inventory. All he had was his fishing boat, his welder, and some miscellaneous things that he owned and put on the lot. He lived in his self-made building for 4 months without a single sale. Jeff recapped saying he “did quite a bit of soul searching” during that lonely fall season sitting in that building having nothing to do and no money to try anything. As Jeff sat in isolation, he craved to sell anything. He finally had a profitable idea while reading the Wichita Falls Times Record News. Jeff would watch the ads in the newspaper for bigger items such as boats, motorcycles and tractors. When the items didn’t sell, he would call the dealer and ask to sell them on his own highway-visible lot. Jeff sold the items for a higher price, gave the dealers the amount they wanted for the vehicle, and profited from the extra. This made Jeff’s first official business called “Consignment Sales.”
After a year of making profit off Consignment Sales, Jeff wanted to get back to his initial passion – selling cars. Jeff and George Pierce decided to become regulars at the Fort Worth car auctions to get some vehicles on their lot. The Pierce’s would drive to Fort Worth, win a bid on a used car, and drive it home. George and Jeff’s car lot grew slowly because they could only buy one car at a time to drive back to Henrietta. When Jeff and George saw that the other regular bidders were using trucks with winches to tow an extra car back to their lot, they decided that the next step was to buy a winch. To their surprise, the winch was much more expensive than they thought it would be. Considering the options, they still bought the winch and began bringing more cars back from the auctions.
As more car auctions passed, Jeff and George watched new bidders come in needing a winch to buy more cars. Knowing that winches were too expensive, they decided to buy large amounts from a winch company and get a discount, then sell at a lower price at the Fort Worth auctions. The Pierce’s bought a large quantity of Ramsey winches to get the highest discount. When the next Fort Worth auction came, Jeff and George had their truck bed packed with their new product and a sign that read “Ramsey Winches for $325.”
Months later, the phone in Jeff’s handmade building would not stop ringing. Eventually the Pierce’s couldn’t afford to go to the auctions anymore because they were too busy selling winches at their lot in Henrietta. Jeff and George officially became partners and named their business “Pierce Sales.” The Pierce name grew from a friendly father and son that liked to sell, to a large business that cared about their customers more than the average. Pierce Sales continued in consignment selling large used vehicles, but true growth came from being a distributor of Ramsey Winches and selling a variety of trailers.
Towards the end of the seventies, Jeff found a good deal selling stock trailers and would personally pick them up from Oklahoma every day after work. Jeff would trick his friends into taking a ride and then surprise them with obligated labor to load the trailers after a long trip across the Red River. Eventually none of his buddies would come with him. Months down the road, Jeff fell in love with his soon-to-be wife, Kathy McGhee. He knew she was a keeper when she volunteered to accompany him during his after work trailer pick-ups. Jeff thought it was his lucky day until Kathy asked, “What do you do if you have a flat?” Jeff confidently rejected the thought having driven the route hundreds of times without a single flat tire. Nevertheless, minutes later on that same drive the karma of Jeff’s confidence caught his back tire. Jeff chuckles to this day swearing, “I never brought her on one of those trips again.”
Despite the flat, the trailers and winches were a solid direction for Pierce Sales. By 1978, Pierce Sales became one of the largest distributors of Ramsey winches and by 1979 Jeff and George ended the seventies excited for the eighties as they were known to be one of the largest distributors of stock trailers in North Texas. Jeff had been saving up for this tipping point in his business only giving himself 200 dollars a month to live off of. Jeff knew there was growth to be made, products to distribute and customers to serve. Jeff saw the eighties on the way and was prepared for the new decisions it would bring to the table.