Real Estate Developer and General Contractor
After graduating from Stephen F. Austin University in 1977, James Herirington began teaching at Grim Elementary in Texarkana Independent School District. At that time, teachers made $8,000 per year, and James remembers telling his wife, Debbie, that he had to do something to supplement their income. “A few weeks later, I saw an ad in the Texarkana Gazette from a young real estate broker offering a night class to help people prepare for the Arkansas real estate exam,” James says. “I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I took the course, passed the test, and became a teacher by day and a real estate agent by night.”
James’ instructor called a few weeks later and asked if James wanted to quit his teaching job and work with him full time. “After talking it over with Debbie, I took his offer on a leap of faith. Things were changing quickly, and before I knew it, he invited me to join him as a partner in forming a new real estate and construction company,” James says. “Curt Green was that instructor, and 43 years later, we’re still partners. Like many, I had no idea what direction my career was going to take back in 1977, but if you keep working to better yourself and make a better life for your family, an opportunity will knock. Just answer the door!”
James has always been the kind of person that gets bored with repetition, and he enjoys the fact that the real estate development business brings something new and challenging every day. “It makes it easy to wake up and start the morning knowing you’re going to learn something and be exposed to new opportunities,” James says.
After 40 years in this business, James says that the last four have been some of the most exciting as he made a big push into the Express Tunnel car wash business. “My two sons, James II and Clint, have taken a major role in leading our Max Alley development team in expanding Glide Xpress washes from Texas into Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and beyond,” James says. “Seeing their success and working with an exceptionally talented staff inspires new visions and goals for the future.”
For James, the financial collapse of 2008 was the most challenging time that he faced, both personally and professionally. “Commercial real estate prices collapsed by almost 40%, and it was devastating to a small company like ours. We went from a staff of around 25 down to half that and honestly didn’t know how things were going to turn out. We tightened our belts, took no salaries, and beat the bushes for new clients,” James says. “Fortunately, the Fed was cutting interest rates, and we somehow managed to survive until things began to pick up. It was a time of high stress, hard work, and lots of prayers, but the experience made us a better company and more aware of how quickly things can change.”
Through the ups and downs, James has always felt the support of his family. He and his wife, Debbie, celebrated 44 years of marriage in November, and she remains his “best friend and confidant.” Their oldest son, James, and wife, Christi, live in Dripping Springs, Texas, and gave Debbie and James their first two grandbabies: River Bell (6) and Hunter (4). “Our other son, Clint, and his wife, Amy, live in Rockwall, Texas, and just had a new baby boy, Miles Henry, in December. Then, our daughter, Haley, and husband, Randy Roeser, live in Texarkana and gave us our third grandchild, James Troutt, aka “Jack,” back in August,” James says. “We consider ourselves blessed beyond words with family and are appreciative they all choose to spend time together as a family in Texarkana at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
James says that he has always been driven and motivated by family. “I think Debbie and I will both be quite satisfied to have lived a life of generosity and kindness to others and to have raised James II, Clint, and Haley to be good Christians, good parents, and good Americans,” James says. “I will need no other legacy.”
The best advice James ever heard was, “If you will do what most people won’t for a few years, you can do what most people can’t for the rest of your life.” Though James says that he missed out on that in my school days, he now tries to apply that to his work ethic. “Mostly, I drilled it into my kids when they were in high school and college,” James says. “I wanted them to understand you don’t always get a second chance to take advantage of what’s right in front of you.”
From both a personal and professional standpoint, James is most proud of the fact that he has been able to navigate the “treacherous waters” of having family involved in the business. “Anyone that has done it can testify to the challenge,” James says. “However, their involvement and work ethic gives me great confidence that our companies will continue to operate and grow successfully through another generation.”
When he is not working, James enjoys being outdoors. “Hunting and fly fishing are my ‘golf and tennis,’ and I am at a point in life where I am super excited to share my passion with my kids and grandchildren,” James says. “Debbie and I also just bought a small motor home, and we intend to spend time traveling and enjoying this great country.
If you haven’t seen our western states and New England in September and October, you have no idea what you’re missing.”
James will turn 68 in February, so he feels like the idea of long-term goals takes on a new meaning. “With our business on a successful path for the future, I am going to take more time to spend with grandkids and travel with my wife while we are still blessed with good health,” James says. “The last two years have taught me that taking care of business from the road can be done successfully while looking at new real estate, inspecting jobs, and meeting with team members who are spread between Austin and Little Rock.”