20 Fort Worth Companies That Broke the 100-Year Mark

Justin's Window

In Good Company

Any company that hits the century mark is surely doing something right. They’ve managed to survive fires, floods, incoming and outgoing generations with changing attitudes, technological booms, wars, market crashes and more. Fort Worth has many such companies, and they have each, in their own way, contributed to the rich history of the city.

“By having several established unique businesses in a specific area, you begin to develop a brand for that area,” Fort Worth director of economic development, Robert Sturns, said. “A great example of this is the hospitals in our medical district.

“Fort Worth has always had a unique image, and I think part of that stems from the brands/companies that were established here. These companies tend to provide more community support through community service, support of educational programs and financial support of nonprofits than companies that don’t have a strong historical tie to the community.”

The oldest of these companies is Pendery’s World of Chiles & Spices with roots in Fort Worth dating to 1870. In fact, general manager Clint Haggerty, fifth generation, said it is the oldest family-owned and -operated business in the Lone Star State.

“For us, it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Haggerty said. “We have the internet, computer, telephone, electricity, running water and sell online — but somehow, we still sell the same chile powder we invented all those years ago.”

1: Pendery's World of Chiles & Spices
Pendery's Interior
DeWitt Clinton Pendery (third man from the left with mustache) inside the store in 1885.

Pendery's Store Front
The building today. Photo from Pendery’s facebook.

When DeWitt Clinton Pendery arrived in Fort Worth from Cincinnati in 1870, he hardly fit in with the rugged cowboys who looked curiously at his elegant appearance that included a tall silk hat, which is now part of the company’s identity. Unafraid despite a welcoming warning shot, he gained immediate respect and, by 1890, was selling his unique seasonings to cafes, hotels and citizens near and far.

Jennings Avenue
Jennings Avenue at 13th Street, looking North. About 1903.

Pendery extolled his “Chiltomaline,” which is the combination of ground select chile pods, cumin, oregano and other spices, and he even wrote of his condiment’s medicinal benefits with support from physicians. 1407 Eighth Ave.

Brown Owens & Brumley Family Funeral Home & Crematory
This historic business is a combination of three funeral homes: the first, Gause-Ware (founded in 1879), which was created by George L. Gause; Owens & Brumley (founded in 1922); and Meissner-Brown (founded in 1933).

A century later, after the original site of Gause-Ware at Pennsylvania Avenue and Fifth Street burned down, the Gause family purchased its competitor, Owens & Brumley.

A short time later in 1988, longtime funeral director Joe B. Brown and his family purchased the building and name, and the business moved to the heart of Fort Worth’s Medical District.

In 2000, Brown died while directing a friend’s funeral. His son, Monte, now leads the family business. 425 S. Henderson St.

3: Justin Brands inc.
Justin Brands Window Display
Window display of cowboy hats and Justin boots at A. & L. August department store, "the Cow-Man's Headquarters" in downtown Fort Worth. Courtesy of the Genealogy, History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library

H.J. “Daddy Joe” Justin, a boot repairer, received a loan and began making his own cowboy boots in Spanish Fort. While the decorative stitching and stiffened leather made them popular, it was when his wife, Annie, developed a self-measuring kit in 1887 that mail orders became possible, and the brand grew exponentially.

In 1908 sons John and Earl became equal partners, and the name became H.J. Justin & Sons. Seventeen years later, the business moved to Fort Worth from Nocona, and by 1947, the company had $1 million in annual sales.

Justin merged with Acme Brick in 1968 and later changed its name to Justin Industries, Inc.

In 2000 the company was sold to Warren Buffett and the Berkshire-Hathaway Corporation. 610 W. Daggett Ave.

4: Roberston Mueller Harper Funeral Directors
Robertson Mueller Harper Funeral Home

In 1881, Louis P. Robertson purchased the undertaking department from Fakes & Company Furniture, thereby establishing L.P. Robertson Undertaker. Fred P. Mueller joined Robertson in the early 1900s, and E.C. Harper joined the business in 1921, later purchasing Robertson’s interests in 1927.

Panoramic View of Fort Worth
A photo of downtown Fort Worth, taken from the roof of the old Federal Building. City hall is to the right, the Louis P. Robertson funeral home is on the left, and the Carnegie library is in the center of the photograph. Courtesy of the Genealogy, History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library.

Harper and Mueller moved the company from its downtown location in 1929 to Pennsylvania and Ballinger avenues. The Harper family purchased the Mueller interests in 1947, and the funeral home moved to its current location in 1955. 1500 Eighth Ave.

5: Cantey Hanger LLP
Talented trial attorneys William Capps and Samuel Benton Cantey formed the law firm in 1882 and quickly made its mark on the future of Fort Worth by serving as legal counsel in forming the first electric utility in the city and bringing the Stockyards to town. There are now three streets in Fort Worth named in honor of the original partners.
Their attorneys handle the legal needs of entities ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small, family-owned businesses. 600 W. Sixth St., Ste. 300

6: Midland Manufacturing Corporation
Established as Midland Brass Works, John Boicourt, a long-time employee and great-grandfather of current president George Westhoff Jr., acquired the company in the early 1920s.

Boicourt also owned Boicourt Machine Company, an iron foundry and manufacturing facility, and in 1924, Midland Brass Works and Boicourt Machine Company merged. In 1984 they moved to the current location and remain under family management. 4800 Esco Drive

ACME Brick Company
Acme Factory
Acme Brick Plant South of Denton on T&P. Photo by University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library

In 1891, George Bennett established the Acme Pressed Brick Company in Parker County. In 1902, the company won its first major bid: the Armour and Swift meat-packing plants in the Stockyards.

Less than 10 years later, the company moved its headquarters to Fort Worth, and in 1916, stockholders elected new officers and began doing business as Acme Brick Company. Walter R. Bennett (George’s son) was elected the first president.

Acme began stamping its logo on one end of select residential brick in 1987.

The Justin Industries board of directors approved the sale to Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway in 2000. 3024 Acme Brick Plaza

8: Freese and Nichols
Fort Worth Holly Water's Treatment Plant with John Hawley and Simon Freese
John Hawley and Simon Freese at the City of Fort Worth’s Holly Water Treatment Plant in 1914. The plant is still in operation today.

Freese and Nichols provides a broad range of services to plan, design and manage public infrastructure projects. Local highlights throughout its history include being a part of the construction of Lake Worth and dam in 1911, installing window units in the first air-conditioned buildings in North Texas and serving as consultants on the construction of DFW Airport and Skylink system. 4055 International Plaza

Pipeline Banquet
A banquet was held inside an outfall pipeline in Amarillo in 1927 to celebrate the completion of a storm sewer project. Marvin Nichols is seated second from right.

Pipeline Banquet 2018
In March 2018, a Freese and Nichols team re-created the classic picture with a banquet inside a 120-inch-diameter outlet pipe at the Midlothian Balancing Reservoir.

9:Decker Jones, PC
The second-oldest law firm in Fort Worth, the company originated with the law office of George Q. McGown. In 1922, it became McGown & McGown when his son joined him. In 1929, the legendary Berl E. Godfrey and Robert Decker joined the firm, both of whom were known for their exceptional Christmas parties.

In 1990, Decker, McMackin & McClane and Jones, Hall, Bates, Warren & Watson merged a litigation firm with a corporate firm, which became Decker, Jones, McMackin, McClane, Hall & Bates, P.C. and remained that way until January 2015, when it was shortened to its current name. 801 Cherry St., Ste. 2000

10: Original Mattress Factory
What began as a small operation of one — Harry Keeton, Sr., selling mattress supplies — turned into a chain of factory direct mattress stores that spans five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and California).

Still family owned and operated, Peter Duncan Jr., who’s four generations removed from Keeton, now sells products directly to consumers at wholesale prices. In 2017, the Mattress Factory’s production exceeded 10,000 pieces.
900 East Vickery Blvd.

Haltom's Fine Jewellers
Haltom's Fine Jewelers Interior
Courtesy of the Genealogy, History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library

A Fort Worth fixture, this year marks Haltom’s 125th anniversary. G.W. “Pete” Haltom — Haltom City’s namesake — got his start in Arkansas as a “clean-up boy in a jewelry store” before his ambition took him to Fort Worth, where he and his brother, Thomas, opened G.W. Haltom and Bro. on Main Street.

His sons, E.P. and Chester, later joined, and Haltom’s has remained a family-owned and -operated business until 1983, when Jack Miller bought the company. Haltom’s now has two locations, in Ridglea and Grapevine, in addition to its original store, which remains on Main Street. 317 Main St.

12: OB Macaroni Co
After arriving in Fort Worth in 1882, Giovanni Bastista Laneri prospered in the liquor and grocery business and eventually joined Louis Bicocchi — who had run a successful grocery store for years on Jennings Avenue — to create the Fort Worth Macaroni Company with Laneri as president.

In 1905, the company incorporated and moved to the intersection of Daggett and Vickery and changed its name to O.B. Macaroni in 1959.

After four generations of the family owning and operating the business, the company was sold in 2009 to JGR, a private LLC. 3066 South East Loop 820

13: Ben E Keith Company
Salesmen in a buggy

This picture was taken in 1908. The men in the buggy are both salesmen; Ben E. Keith himself is on the right. They are delivering produce by horse and buggy for Harkrider-Morrison.

In 1906 Harkrider-Morrison Company was a produce company in Fort Worth that delivered to local grocery stores and restaurant owners. At the time, Ben E. Keith was the first salesman and junior partner.

Ben E Keith's First Truck
This was taken in 1911. Ben E. Keith is on the left. Rumor has it that this was the first truck the company owned. In February 1911, the company’s name changed to include the Keith name. The organization became Harkrider-Keith-Cooke, recognizing ownership and leadership changes.

In 1918, at age 36, Keith purchased controlling interest and in 1931 changed to its present name. When Prohibition ended in 1933, the company’s refrigerated storage coolers and delivery trucks made it a natural fit to become a beverage distributor.

Fort Worth Food Warehouse in 1958
Fort Worth Food Warehouse in 1958. The current corporate office over both food and beverage is right next to where this building used to be.

Ben E. Keith Company is now the eighth largest broadline food service distributor and fourth largest beverage distributor in the U.S.

14:JPS Health
Nurses Working
Photos courtesy of JPS Health Network

In October 1877, future Fort Worth mayor John Peter Smith deeded 5 acres of land at 1500 S. Main St. for a place where people from Tarrant County could have the best of medical care.

JPS Health Network Reception Desk
Photos courtesy of JPS Health Network

In 1906, a hospital affiliated with the Fort Worth Medical College, which was free to all accident cases, opened downtown, and the foundation for JPS Health Network was laid. Seven years later, county commissioners agreed to match city funds for the operation of a city and county hospital.

JPS Health Building
Photos courtesy of JPS Health Network

In the late 1930s, construction of what would eventually become the John Peter Smith Hospital began. The hospital now trains nurses, physicians and other health care workers. 1500 S. Main St.

15: Baylor Scott and White All Saints Medical Center

Nurses Leaving Baylor Scott
Photo courtesy of Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center

In the late 1800s, a small group of women who called themselves the Comfort Band was determined to help its community and set a goal to start a facility to assist those needing medical attention. This inspired the citizens of Fort Worth to raise funds for a hospital, and when the Episcopal Church joined in, the All Saints Episcopal Hospital opened in 1906.

Nurses working inside medical center
Photo courtesy of Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center

In the years that followed, the hospital expanded to include the Moncrief Cancer Center and a second hospital that opened in southwest Fort Worth.

In 2002, the facilities became part of the Baylor Health Care System, and in the summer of that year, performed Tarrant County’s first liver transplant. 1400 Eighth Ave.

16:Stockyards Hotel
Stockyards Hotel
Photos provided by the North Fort Worth Historical Society

Patrons have journeyed from near and far by foot, horseback, stagecoach, motorcar and plane to enjoy this premier hotel. It offers a picturesque, authentic Old West ambiance that has been featured in several movies.

Stockyards Hotel
Photos provided by the North Fort Worth Historical Society

The legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde stayed in Room 305, which is now called the Bonnie & Clyde Suite. It’s rumored they stayed in this room so they could observe the bank across the street.

Stockyards Hotel Bar Patron
Photos provided by the North Fort Worth Historical Society

Restored to its original elegance and grandeur, every guest room reflects the era of the Old West and the early 19th century. 109 E. Exchange Ave.

17: Gamtex Industries
Founded by Russian immigrant Jacob Gachman as a small shop along the Texas cattle trail, Gamtex continues to operate as a family-owned and -operated business through four generations.

In the 1920s, Jacob and business partner P.E. Ellis operated the St. Louis Junk Co., which saw Jacob traveling by train to collect scrap metal. Jacob eventually bought out Ellis and continued the business as Gachman Metals, which in 1986 became Gamtex.

The company has become one of the largest and most respected recyclers in the region. Today, Gamtex operates as a multi-million-dollar business under the direction of chairman Arnold Gachman, Jacob’s grandson. 2600 Shamrock Ave.

18:Heritage Land Bank
Established as part of the Houston Federal Land Bank, Heritage Land Bank has been assisting the fulfillment of the dreams of home and land ownership for over a century and has played an integral role in the Texas agricultural economy.
They were there when the Farm Credit Act of 1933 helped people return from the Great Depression and helped stem inflation during World War II by appraising farmland with “normal” prices instead of the often-inflated wartime prices.
301 Commerce St., Ste. 1380

Morsco
Morsco Building and Emblem
Photo from MORSCO website

Founded in 1917 as the Fort Worth Pump & Windmill Company, the growing company renamed itself in 1926 in recognition of the elderly J.T. Morrison’s leadership. Throughout the course of nine decades, Morrison Supply extended its footprint into Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana and New Mexico with over 70 locations.

In 2011, Morrison received a significant equity investment from Advent International, one of the world’s largest private equity firms and one of the most active investors in growing distribution businesses. 

To support an aggressive long-term expansion plan, it invested in a new corporate services office in Fort Worth and gave the company another “new” name, MORSCO.
In 2012, it opened 13 new locations in California and would later expand into a variety of other markets.

In 2018, Reece Group, Australia’s leading provider of plumbing, HVAC and waterworks products, acquired MORSCO. 100 East 15th St., Ste. 200

20:Cook Children's
Cook Children's

The first children’s hospital in the area began with the organization of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital on March 21, 1918, under the leadership of Ida L. Turner, a former postmistress. It was named for its access to care for infants and toddlers, regardless of a parent or guardian’s ability to pay.

All of the building materials and furnishings for the hospital were donated.

Cook Children's exterior 2

Eventually, the hospital was renamed Fort Worth Children’s Hospital.

In 1961, under the leadership of Nenetta Burton Carter and the Woman’s Board of the Fort Worth Children’s Hospital, a new facility was completed at 1400 Cooper St. This facility continued to operate independently until 1985, when it merged with what was then Cook Children’s Hospital.

In 1985, Robert M. Bass was elected the founding chairman, and construction on the new Cook Children’s Medical Center was completed in 1989. In September 2016, the facility performed its 1,000th bone marrow transplant.
901 Seventh Ave.

By Rick Mauch


Editor’s Note: There are many well-established companies in Fort Worth that have easily cracked the 100-year mark — too many to include in one piece of editorial. While we admit there could be companies missing from this list, we think this gives a good retrospective of our city’s diverse businesses.