Doug Box 5

Lessons On The Ranch

If you live here in Frisco and take a drive down Main Street and Preston Road, you will run into the fifty-five hundred acre beautiful plot of land today known as Brinkman Ranch. This ranch has a story; and a lot of lessons as told by Doug Box.

Before it was coined Brinkman Ranch, it was known as the Box Ranch, owned by Cloyce Box. Cloyce having making his climb to the top, with the help of his successful career in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, began to meet people and start relationships that led him into areas such as construction, cement manufacturing and finally the good ole’ Texas oil business. His football career had indeed helped open those doors for him.

For many decades, the Box family comprised of Cloyce, his wife and their four boys. One of the boys, Doug Box, has written several books about his families’ legacy. In his widely popular book, Cutter Frisco, he describes the Box family mansion and all that transpired there. There were endless days of working on the farm with cattle, horses, hogs and the like. His family lived the quintessential Texas rich lifestyle. Doug explained there were parties held that included diverse groups of people coming over to enjoy the festivities. From U.S. Olympians, ex-football stars to movie celebrities, the list goes on. The ranch was the place to be “seen.”

Although Doug enjoyed his time on the Box Ranch, there came a time when he became, simply, worn out. Worn out with the farm work, worn out with the damage the sun had done to his skin. He even battled with removing forms of skin cancer that came from the endless hours of farm work under the hot Texas sun. Right after graduating high school, Doug put his foot down…this time on the gas pedal. He found another job working as a dishwasher at a local golf club in the city.

In 1987, the stock market crashed and had an economic impact on all of the businesses, including Doug’s Father’s oil business. In the middle of that same year, sadly, Cloyce Box suffered a sudden heart attack that came on very unexpectedly.

Just like with any family, the decisions of how assets would be divided came into play. Doug explained that this created a tumultuous series of events for he and his three other brothers. Some of the brothers wanted to keep the ranch; others wanted to sell it to a buyer at the time. Some wanted to continue working and tending to the ranch, and others (such as Doug) didn’t have interest in going back to farm life. It was a difficult and frustrating time, to say the least. They went back and forth and finally ended up deciding to sue one another and went in front of a Federal judge who ended up forcing them to sell the ranch and unfortunately, due to the economic times, it sold for pennies on the dollar. It still divided the fortune up for each brother to have their own independent wealth; it could have been a lot more had they taken the time to really plan the transition out.

This is what led Doug to becoming a Family Business Advisor. If there is one piece of advice Doug tells just about everyone, including his current daughters today, it is to not join the family business right away. He believes it’s important to gain a broader perspective on business, wealth and life in general. Once you graduate college, get away for a few years, get a job, live in the real world where there are real bosses and you see the bigger picture of things. This will ensure that you don’t take things for granted so much. It will allow you to see the importance of family away from family business.

Doug’s latest book, The Texas Patriarch describes his Father’s rise from poverty to building an empire and then having it come crashing down. He said it could be described as a depressing story, but Doug would like it to be looked at as a valuable lesson. He coins it as, “A Texas version of Forrest Gump.”

When I asked Doug what was one of the lessons his father gave to him, he told me Cloyce would say, “You learn more from your mistakes and failures than you do from your successes.”

Well said, Mr. Box.