50 Years in the Making
Claude Ray “Chuck” Churchwell, III, has deep ties to Texas State University and McCoy’s Building Supply – and it all began 50 years ago.
A native of Luling, Texas, Churchwell found himself attending Southwest Texas State University in the fall of 1966, noting, “It was kind of natural in 1966, when I graduated from high school, to attend Southwest at the time.”
A prodigious worker from an early age, Churchwell developed a keen understanding of the business model, so that by the time he entered college, he knew which direction to go — into the university’s business program. “It was always business; it’s what you knew was the next migration,” he says.
But the journey to graduation would have its challenges.
Attending Southwest in the late ’60s, Churchwell saw plenty of civil unrest on campus as a result of the Vietnam War. With colleges all across the country in turmoil, he remembers the anxiety and uncertainty of those days. This was especially true in his freshman year, he reminisced. “To move to San Marcos was a big deal to me then, it was a big move. I was a little overwhelmed by the size of the school, and it took me a year to get grounded. Protests were happening all the time; something was always going on at the school at the time.”
Still, his determination to “get the job done,” alongside the meaningful support of his professors, would prove pivotal to his academic success.
“I can appreciate and remember Professor Alvin Musgrave. He was one of the kindest professors who supported me — and I found most of the professors to be that way. Especially in the business school. I always felt like my professors were very interested in wanting to help the students.”
The business school would come to be his refuge, where he could gather with like-minded individuals committed to learning the ins and outs of the business world.
While he admits to having struggled academically at times, Churchwell emphasizes the value of persistence and never giving up — whether it be at the collegiate or professional level. “School gave me the foundation to persevere; it taught me how to manage my life enough to finish something. I was a kid when I graduated from high school, but by the time I had finished those four years of college, I had become an adult.”
A Historic Career at McCoy’s Building Supply
In 1970, when Churchwell graduated with a bachelor in business administration, McCoy’s Building Supply had five stores in Texas, including one in north Austin. While the job market was challenging at the time, Churchwell saw hope and opportunity in a newspaper advertisement for a position in the company.
He applied for the job and began a 48-year career at McCoy’s built on commitment, a constant desire to grow professionally — and perhaps — just a touch of fate.
Not only was Churchwell in the first graduating class of the School of Business, he would be the first college graduate McCoy’s Building Supply would hire, the first manager trainee, the first and only non-family Executive Vice President and the first non-family board member — all of this accomplished at the first (and only) job he had after college.
“It was such a blessing to have such a long career at McCoy’s,” he says, “And I know the degree got me in the door. I didn’t have any experience in building materials, but they gave me a shot. I had the confidence and knew that if I could complete school, I could do the job and things of that nature. I certainly didn’t have that confidence out of high school. I got that out of Southwest Texas State.”
A firm believer in hard work, Churchwell attributes his successful career at McCoy’s to the desire of wanting to be more than a cog in the wheel. “You want to be involved in the entire process rather than one little slice …” he says, adding, “You can’t underestimate the value of hard work. It doesn’t necessarily mean mental or physical work, but putting forth effort. Not only do you want to keep learning, but you want to add value. Ask yourself, ‘How can I contribute to what they’re doing other than just doing my job?’”
He also notes the undeniable value of building valuable relationships amongst peers and co-workers, especially when it comes to the issues and challenges a business must face. “I wanted to get to know the team, as I had become invested in their professional lives, I wanted to learn more about their individual lives and interest outside of work - actually really get to know them.”
These are fundamental tools he feels the McCoy College of Business is helping students to develop, alongside networking opportunities which help graduates learn how to be a part of a caring and connected team.
“In business, you always have somebody that is working with you, not against you. You are working as a team toward a common goal. Those relationships help to build trust, and that affects the whole business. That’s something I learned at McCoy’s Building Supply; it’s who we are.”
His hope is that students in the McCoy College of Business truly absorb these lessons of interpersonal skills, communication and commitment to hard work.
Reflecting on 50 Years
The story and career of Claude Ray “Chuck” Churchwell, III, couldn’t be better suited for Texas State University.
“How fortuitous, 50 years the McCoy College has been operating and my 50 years at McCoy’s Building Supply. Having the opportunity to get close to the McCoy family, they have become like my second family. Those of us who have gotten so close, we bleed green and yellow. I’m very blessed that it all worked out that way. I’m proud to be a part of the first graduating class of the School of Business and having spent my career at McCoy’s. I just want to enhance everything they are both doing.”
You already have, Chuck.