By Betty Jo Gigot Publisher
I suppose it happens to all of us. You see a name or picture and, as fast as a flashbulb, you are rerunning the entire adventure you have had with a special person in your life. That happened this week when a Texas cowboy appeared on my television. The reason he made international news was truly breaking news.
In the early ‘90s, as a reporter for CALF News, I attended the annual Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association Convention in Austin. A nearby businessman had contacted the company about help with some public relations. After the meeting, I headed north to the town of Schwertner, Texas, to meet Jim Schwertner of Capitol Land and Livestock. The company had just finished building a state-of-the- art cattle-trading facility. After being escorted to Jim’s office on the second floor where one could view the holding pens for more than 7,000 head at a time, I asked one question: “Has anyone ever done a story on you?” The next thing I knew, in my high heels, I was in a Piper Cub, photographing and admiring a cattlemen’s dream – green grass forever.
Ever since, Jim has said I am his mentor and taught him everything he knows about public relations. He certainly learned well as I will tell you later. I wrote the story; it was published as the cover story of the next issue, and the rest is history. Jim swears they had to hire an extra person to answer the phone with
all the response. We were off to the races, telling the world about the now fourth-generation business.
Through the years, I have had the opportunity to interview Eugene, Jim’s dad, and publish his story and become his friend, but also have been included in a myriad of experiences. I caught huge catfish in Eugene’s pond and visited often until his death in 1998. Dean and I got to stay in the house on the hill with the giant American flag and Olympic-sized swimming pool, which now serves as a family meeting place and a wedding venue.
Anytime we arrived, we were welcomed with a neon sign greeting us personally and treated to lunch at the Stagecoach Inn in Salado. Later we got to view the entire area while flying with Jim in his helicopter, which he uses these days to check operations on the 20,000-acre property. Eugene purchased much of that property one small farm at a time, then cleared, fenced and put it into production. Each has a green gate and is given the next number in order.
I had the chance to work with Jim when he was chairman of the Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association, and he introduced me when I was inducted into the Cattle Feeder’s Hall of Fame. Along with his other projects, Jim served on the Texas A&M Board of Regents from 2009 to 2015.
Recently, Jim had the chance to add to his resume of giving (and certainly his public relations acumen) when he tweeted Elon Musk and offered him 100 acres 35 miles north of Austin – at no cost – as the new Twitter headquarters. Causing an international sensation with his offer, Jim believes that Austin is a perfect place to do business. Musk recently relocated his Tesla headquarters to Texas from California. No one knows if the offer will be accepted, but it certainly is a testimonial to the Texas spirit, the Schwertner way.