Family business expands again on Beltway
Marcus White has lived in the area his whole life. One business at a time, he has brought financial security to his family and numerous jobs to the community. His entrepreneurial ventures began when he sought independence from his job at the time. And now, with the whole family involved, business is booming.
White said his journey began with a job in the car business; first in sales and finance, and then in management.
He didn't mind the work, but was looking to move past any financial insecurities. He wanted to control his own financial future.
“In 1995, I set a five-year goal to be financially independent by the year 2000,” said White.
The first step toward the five-year goal was the building of Woodlands Boat & RV Storage in The Woodlands and Spring area. White built it in 1996 and managed the property by cell phone while still working as a finance manager in the car business. He explained that with this first venture, he brought no experience whatsoever.
“Sometimes you have to pay what I call, 'the stupid tax,'” he said with a grin.
But he added that learning some things the hard way are just part of what it takes to step out in business on your own.
He learned his lessons and that business flourished.
In February of 2002, White purchased Frontier Pawn & Gun on First Street in Humble, determined to make it stand out from other businesses of its kind in the area.
“In large part we have accomplished this,” said White. “We increased all of the numbers by double over just a few years and the business continues to grow as we speak.”
Putting him just two months beyond five years, his financial independence had been achieved. But he wasn't about to stop there.
Next on the horizon was Big Stall Storage in Humble, which White established in 2004. He converted the old golf and games property at the FM 1960 Bypass into storage and has plans for 50,000 square feet of additional space.
In 2005, White purchased the Grand Parkway business park in Porter. He cleaned up the property, doubled the rent, and it's been smooth sailing ever since. The center is on FM 1314, three miles west of U.S. Highway 59.
“This is a great property and stays 100 percent occupied,” he said.
With another 'first' under his belt, he was ready to move forward.
White built The Gilbert House Apartments in Porter in 2007. The 36,000-square-foot complex was born from an old 1960s house on 1.5 acres. White planned the project, got permits approved, built and then managed it. He said he learned a lot of lessons along the way.
“What an education this was. I had no building experience at this level; no property management experience at this level. But it turned out great and the property stays very close to 100 percent occupied.”
The pawn business, which had become his primary focus, beckoned again.
White opened Cypresswood Pawn & Gun in Spring in 2010. He took over a space that had once been a major drug store, but had languished, empty, for 15 years.
“We knocked the dust off, reconfigured the space and now there is a well-established business there that has created six new jobs,” he said.
During this time, White and his wife, Jenny White, also purchased several residential foreclosures and other homes for their “rental pool.” They now own and manage five residential rental properties.
And on June 30, Beltway Pawn & Gun opened at 11411 N Sam Houston Parkway E, near Fall Creek and Summerwood.
“The space was completely empty except for the side walls,” said White. “Again drawing on our growing general contractor experience, we built it out, and it is doing great,” he said.
The businesses are most definitely a family effort, especially when it comes to Jenny. She has worked as the business manager as each business has grown, managing all cash flow, payroll, accounts payable and more.
“Recently we promoted a loyal employee to take over most of these duties,” said White, “as Jenny's role evolves into more of a supervisory role.”
White's son, Jon White, has been working at Frontier Pawn for almost 13 years, and has been the manager for the past six years.
“Jon has been instrumental in the overall growth of the company simply by staying there at Frontier and growing that location every year,” said White.
Marcus White Jr. has been in the family business for four years.
“He manages all the real estate, keeps the properties fully occupied … keeps the cash flow healthy on the real estate side,” said White.
Their daughter, Ashley White, just graduated from Spring High School.
“She graduated magna cum laude,” said White, with the same proud smile he showed when speaking about his other children.
She recently left for Penn State to begin her first year of college, having spent the summer earning money for her books. White said she shows signs of being much like himself.
“Within a week of graduating, she answered a flier to attend an interview for selling a product … She made enough money to pay for all of her books and has a nice reserve left over,” said White.
He said their plans for the next 10 years include expanding their pawn business to 15 locations, growing their rent-house business and adding another apartment complex or two.
When asked if he had any advice for someone setting out on their own business venture, White offered what has worked for him over the years:
“Do what you fear most, and you will control fear.”
Marcus White and family have worked together over the years building a family business with something for each of them. At Frontier Pawn, the birthplace of the pawn business for the Whites, are, from left: Marcus White Jr., Marcus White, Jenny White and Jon White, who manages that location. Photo by Patsy Oliver
Beltway Pawn recently opened at 11411 N Sam Houston Parkway E near Fall Creek. The shop is the third, but definitely not the last for Marcus White and family. Submitted photo