The definition of humble is "Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance." If Webster Dictionary decided to attach a photo of a person to that definition Tony McLemore would certainly be in the running.
In 1996 Ozarka Water developed a spring down in the Big Rock Community of Eustace and hired a company from Fort Worth to haul the spring water for them. When things didn't work out with that company Ozarka began hiring Henderson County locals to haul for them. Five individuals were called in and became the local hauling operation for the bottled natural spring water company.
"They were putting money back in the community," said Tony.
Tony started hauling for Ozarka in early 1997 when he opened County Line Express. He managed the entire operation himself. Mechanic work, billing, everything fell on him. He borrowed just enough money to buy the truck and get started.
"It was rough in the beginning," said Tony. "I ran much of the first year by myself and then hired another guy and we were just running day and night."
The success of County Line Express goes hand in hand with the success of Ozarka Natural Spring Water. Since 1997 Ozarka has grown each year. The quality of their water has allowed County Line Express to grow right alongside them. Tony kept his focus on growing with Ozarka.
During the first year of business County Line Express added another truck and then another in the second year. Before long the company was running 10 trucks and the other local owners had been bought out. Tony became the sole owner of County Line Express.
"I decided during that first year that I was going to try and double revenue every year," said Tony. "We did. During the first three years we kept doubling and adding trucks as more opportunities arose."
For the past fifteen years, County Line Express has also operated a hauling warehouse out of Houston. Between that location and the Henderson County location the company is now running sixty trucks and forty-five drivers hauling both bulk tankers of natural spring water and finished bottled product. The company employs sixty employees. County Line Express hauls all over South and North Texas, delivering finished product to places like Sam's Club and Costco. They are also now hauling brick for Acme Brick.
Big truck loans are very specialized. County Line Express has always been focused on using their trucks to their full potential, lightening them up as much as possible to expel the full potential of the trucks hauling capacity. Tony was also calculating to the tenth of a gallon what one engine was capable of versus another engine keeping his trucks at maximum fuel efficiency.
County Line Express and First State Bank began their relationship in the late 90's. It was Tony's knowledge and attention to detail that impressed the bank.
"After coming to First State Bank, I've never looked back," said Tony.