Get to Know the Trusted Team of McAdams Propane Company
McAdams Propane is a Shelby County based business which has already spanned the generations with plans in place to extend that legacy well into the future.
Putting families first and giving back to the communities they serve have become hallmarks of the growing firm.
Today, the family business is operated by Billy Bob and Lisa McAdams along with son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Sharisse McAdams. But the company’s roots go back decades in helping fuel, heat and energize the growing Shelby County and Deep East Texas economy.
Lisa’s grandfather on her mother’s side, drove a truck for local butane and propane supplier Bu-Pane when former Center Mayor John D. Windham’s father-in-law, Mack Bussey owned the company.
“My dad ended up working for them and my mother worked in the office for years,” Lisa says of her parents Weldon and Jimmie Boles.
But the odds of the business continuing within the family was not a sure bet when Billy Bob took a well-paying and secure job with Southwestern Bell and he and his bride, Lisa, moved away from Center in 1980 with no firm plans to return.
His father, along with several other family members, worked for Southwestern Bell and had helped Billy Bob get his foot in the door with the giant telephone company. Their future was secure with the telecommunications giant, or so they thought.
But in 1981, Billy Bob and Lisa were presented an opportunity to work for Lisa’s father in the propane business back home in Center and decided to leave the security of his job with Southwestern Bell and return to their roots in Shelby County.
“I was born and raised here in Center, but it was still a tough decision to leave Southwestern Bell, which was something I thought I’d do the rest of my life,” Billy Bob says.
“We looked at it as an opportunity to have our future back home with our families.”
Looking back, taking that leap of faith has proven to be a positive move on multiple fronts, he says. Fast forward to today and McAdams Propane and related entities not only have survived but are thriving.
However, like most businesses, the company has had to make adjustments in a world where technology and more and more rules and regulations have become the status quo.
Billy Bob says the biggest changes in the business have been in the areas of mounting regulations and rules and all the requirements which go along with those. Then, he says, costs for everything from materials and equipment to labor, insurance, technology and fuel have all risen drastically.
Among the upsides of those changes are increased efficiency and improved customer service. For instance, years ago when the company received a call that a customer was out of gas, crews were scurrying to take care of them, he says.
“Since we’ve implemented a lot of changes with technology on the retail side, we just don’t get many of those ‘out-of-gas’ calls, which are
our biggest concern,” Billy Bob says. McAdams Propane now has technology in place which lets the firm know before a customer runs out of fuel.
As for most families, whether in business or not, the dynamics of different points of view can come into play.
“But I think we work well together,” Billy Bob says. “We all have our own boxes, or categories, areas that we strive, and we all work well together.”
He serves as president of the firm.
Lisa says her main area of responsibility is bookkeeping and financial details while Josh runs the day-to-day operations, he also handles human resources duties for about 90 employees and negotiates all the firm’s supply contracts.
While Josh is an integral part of the operations today, like in his parents return to Center and the family business, it was not a given that he would eventually become part of McAdams Propane, Billy Bob says.
“Josh worked for us over summers and afternoons while he was in school,” he says. “When he went off to college and then went to work in Houston for Enterprise Products, we thought that he probably wouldn’t come back here.”
But Josh gained valuable experience working for former Shelbyville area resident Dan Duncan in Houston which came in handy a couple of years later when he returned to Center and McAdams Propane.
Billy Bob says that perspective of adding the next generation to the firm has helped propel its growth in a variety of directions.
“Before Josh joined us, we had implemented some technology, but we were a long way from where we are today,” he says. “For propane companies our size, the level of utilizing technology to the extent McAdams does is unusual,” Lisa says.
“We still consider ourselves a mom and pop operation, because we’re not like the “major” retail marketers who are nationwide,” she says. “But normally regional firms like McAdams have not yet gone to the level of computer integration the Shelby County firm has.
“We have a lot of technology on the trucks, we have tank monitors where we can monitor tank levels here in the office,” Lisa says. “Normally that’s not what you see in a mom and pop operation.”
Josh says while his mother and father refer to McAdams Propane as a “mom and pop” business, the business has grown and expanded to a larger regional presence. Lisa says adding layers of technology does not mean the company has outgrown personalized customer service.
“We can beat the competition on customer service any day and that’s what we try to do,” she said. Billy Bob says one of the aspects he likes about the technology is being able to monitor activity of the firm’s fleet of trucks with details down to where the truck is, how long it has been there and much more.
When Josh joined the family business in 2008, he brought experience in the Midstream sector of the energy industry.
“We bring an aspect to this industry that most don’t. We have vertically integrated our business to the point we can fill a 20-pound cylinder for your barbeque grill or a 9,000-gallon transport load,” Josh says.
The family started Midstream Transportation Company in 2014. Midstream Transportation currently services clients in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico & Mississippi.
Midstream Transportation is committed to the economical transport of bulk commodities including Propane, IsoButane, Normal Butane, Y-Grade, Propane Propylene Mix, Natural Gasoline, Crude Oil, Petroleum Spirits and any other LPG mix. They provide bulk transportation services and continue to provide reliable, safe transport to companies in the Southwest. Also, Midstream Transportation provides commercial flare services to the gulf coast region.
For the company and the family, reinvesting their time, talents and resources back into the community have become a part of the firm’s culture.
“We feel that the county has given to us by supporting our business and we feel like we should give back,” Billy Bob says. Lisa says as the firm has expanded that philosophy of supporting, the communities in new areas of service has also grown.
“We support livestock shows, walks, students and school events and cancer funds,” she says. “We even had a pink truck at one time as a show of support for breast cancer awareness.”
One of the areas of community support in which Lisa has been a major part of along with others, is creating an organization called 50 Women Impact. The premise is simple.
Instead of hosting car washes, raffles or bake sales in other to give back and be philanthropic, each person who joins 50 Women Impact pledges to contribute $100 each quarter of the year. With those funds, the group meets to decide which deserving organizations will be the recipient of a quarterly distribution.
“We now have more than 100 members and will surpass giving out more than $100,000 in 2020,” Lisa says. “We want to reach out to the entire county, and we’re excited about it.”
She says the giving nature of Shelby County residents has risen to the surface in a big way through 50 Women Impact.
“Everyone is so short on time, but people really want to give to a good cause, but they just don’t have the time,” Lisa says. This past November represented the second anniversary of the group.
“The thing we’re so proud of is that it does not matter who you are, what age you are or what stage of life you’re at, it’s open to anybody who has a heart to give,” she says. All it takes is a willingness to set aside about $33 a month and then contribute that to 50 Women Impact every three months.
“We’re really proud of the impact the group has had,” Lisa says.
Josh has served on the board of the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center for more than three years and is now president of the board. He says that organization does a lot of good for the children of the county and that serving with the dedicated group of staff professionals and volunteers is rewarding.
“We’re doing a lot of good for kids who need a voice,” Josh says. He praised the work of the board and staff, which has gained statewide attention as a flagship advocacy center which other small rural counties can emulate.
He also serves on the Texas Propane Gas Association board as President-Elect, and in 2019 was appointed to serve a six-year term on the board of the Sabine River Authority by Gov. Gregg Abbott.
“There has always been a member from Center or Shelby County because we are in the heart of the basin,” Josh says. “It’s not just the river, it’s Toledo Bend Reservoir, Lake Fork, Lake Tawakoni, and a large canal system included in what would be considered the Sabine River and its tributaries.”
He says it is an honor for him to be able to serve as a public voice on the SRA Board. “It’s important to have a strong voice for rural Texas when it comes to the management of our river and reservoirs,” Josh says.
“The biggest reward for me is being able to work with family,” Lisa says. “As parents you can only hope you work hard that you make progress in your town and your industry.”
Billy Bob says he and Lisa are not in the office these days as much as they used to be. He enjoys spending more time at a farm the family owns near Madisonville.
“The most rewarding thing is having my family here and being able to work together,” he says. “The other thing that is rewarding to me is that we have managed to grow and do well and give back to our community.”
Josh says knowing he and Sharisse can raise their family here is important. Looking back to his days in Houston, he feels Shelby County offers a positive difference.
Lisa says she would not have it any other way.
“We are just so pleased we can give back to Center and Shelby County,” Lisa says.