Mike on America

T.W. Garner: They Are 'Family' For Sure

Sister Sledge
Source: njn.net

'We Are Family'. Who sang that? Sister Sledge? You remember when it was the most popular? Willie Stargell, the Pittsburgh Pirates, 19...19...the World Series in that year that seems like yesterday but that I can't remember. But I can still see Stargell waving that towel, the crowd going nuts, and 'We Are Family' playing out over the loud speakers.

I've been privileged to be at most of the 'iconic' sporting events at one time or another over the last few decades and for my money there is nothing the captures who we are and where we've been like the World Series. Maybe it's the time of year. Maybe it's the format. Maybe it's the memories, but as the four teams left in the playoffs go at each other over this weekend, I can't wait for the Series to start, and I don't even have a 'horse in this race'.

I'm almost certain it was Sister Sledge.

I actually started humming the darn thing about halfway through our tour of the T.W. Garner Food Co. plant here in Winston-Salem. You likely haven't heard of T.W. Garner, but you almost surely have heard of it's 'signature' product--Texas Pete. Hot sauce at its finest. Just ask those scrambled eggs I put it on. While available all over the country, Texas Pete and T.W. Garner are one more example of a strong, traditional, regional brand.

The company has been making hot sauce and it's variations, along with jams and jellies for 78 years. It's the kind of brand that, like the World Series, says something about us as Americans. See, we can make our own products here. Yes, it's a great business. No we don't need hot sauce from China or anywhere else.

It's also a family story. I sat in the boardroom with the company officers. All of them family members. Brothers, sisters, cousins. All with roots back to that first little barbeque shack and that first sauce recipe. It's into it's fourth generation now, I met the young folks who will some day take over. Family businesses are a dicey game (just ask the New York Yankees), many peter out around generation three or four.

But what I heard from the Garners showed no signs of that. There's a reverence for where they come from, Depression Era parents, and a excitement about what the can do going forward, expanding the brand and it's reach. And a pride that Texas Pete and all the other products they make are made right here, in Winston-Salem.

'We Are Family', 19....19.... Maybe I need to use more hot sauce.

A reminder that 'Mike On America' on TV has a new home. The segments from around the country will be on CNBC's Power Lunch starting on Monday, October 15th, and runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, news of the day permitting. "Power Lunch" runs from noon to 2 pm eastern time. Look for our travels there.

See you along the road. Say hi to Bill and Sue for me.

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