AP NEWS

Campbell, Jordan named Citizens of the Year by chamber

March 19, 2019

For 43 years the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce has recognized citizens in the Dayton and Liberty communities for their selfless service and willingness to give back. The list of previous winners includes such notables as county commissioners, mayors, doctors, religious leaders, and governors. This year two business leaders with deep connections and years of investing into their community were highlighted.

Julie Campbell, owner of Star Twirling Academy, was named the Dayton Citizen of the Year. Born in Baytown, Texas, she lived most of her early life in Channelview and Baytown and moved to Dayton at 11 years old. She was the only sister to an older and younger brother. She quickly made friends with her neighbors and spent her days riding horses and practicing her baton twirling.

She auditioned and became a twirler for Dayton High School and took pride in being first-chair trumpet player in the band. Her giving spirit began early as she spent her spare time offering lessons to younger students after school.

When she wasn’t teaching, she worked stints for Dayton Dairy Queen, Pennington’s Fried Chicken, and Rodgers Pharmacy as a teen.

Following graduation, she worked for Oldham Office Center making outside sales calls to local businesses for their office supply needs.

While she enjoyed her work, her passion was working with children in the community. That led to her opening Star Twirling Academy in 1985 teaching baton twirling lessons to Dayton youth.

The 2018 Citizen of the Year, Dr. Jessica Johnson, said of Campbell, “Ms. Julie has touched the lives of many residents in Dayton and surrounding areas. She is a woman of great compassion, integrity, and character.”

For 30 years she has made sure that no student went unserved, regardless of financial hardship.

She also arranges for free transportation from school, allows students a safe place to complete their homework as they wait for their class to begin, and personally ensures each child is picked up before she ends her work day.

“She is a tireless worker in the community helping to raise funds for college scholarships, medical expenses, and other needs of families and residents,” Johnson said. She never misses a parade or the chance to allow her Stars to shine in front of the community.

Campbell has taught hundreds of students and is now teaching second generations.

“Ms. Julie has loved and cared for the children of our community while raising her own two children as a single mother. She put both through college and has been their primary cheerleader as they’ve grown in adulthood,” Johnson said of her.

Likewise, the Liberty Citizen of the Year, Frank Jordan, has a rich resume of community service and contributions.

Jordan was raised in Liberty and following graduation earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA at the University of Texas at Austin where he co-founded the UT Graduate School of Business Club.

He worked for several years as the Vice President of First Liberty National Bank and served on the board of trustees of First United Methodist Church.

His expertise in business also included the oil and gas industry and multiple real estate investments.

Jordan also loved communications and research beginning a radio career in Cleveland, Texas in 1955 to a national program. His career spanned 64 years. To create the content for his program required considerable research.

His love of learning didn’t end there as he loved Biblical research which led to his becoming an ordained minister in 2012. As an author he has published books including two volumes in life and faith and has had more than 350 articles published in Liberty area newspapers.

Jordan has served on a broad range of boards and councils, including the governor’s appointment to the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, Liberty City Council, TVE Board, Liberty - Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the American Heart Association and the Sunshine Kids, a charity for children with cancer.

Jordan is married to Connie with two sons, a daughter, and numerous grandchildren.

The guest speaker said he couldn’t bring Tilman Fertitta with him, but the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Landry’s, Inc. Keith Beitler brought his friend along with him in the form of a photo.

“I’ve always remembered where I came from and I think that’s what’s given me the strength and the knowledge and the attitude to make things happen and to get people to do jobs for me,” he said.

For Beitler, learning the family business began at age 12.

His father had a butcher teach him how to slice a cow.

“I couldn’t pick it up, but I could cut it up,” he laughed.

His family owned numerous convenience stores and he was one of eight children. Beitler said he learned a lot about business and life working next to his father.

“I’m the only one who remained in the food business. I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not,” he joked.

In his early life, he went to work for the Gallagher Restaurants back in the 70s waiting tables and bartending, but he wanted more.

His desire to get into management led him to an interview with the vice president of Gallagher’s.

“He told me I was too young at 20 years old to be a GM and that angered me because I knew I could do the job,” he told chamber members.

He asked them to just give him a chance and if he failed, they could fire him.

“It fired me up and I think it was that drive that got me to the point of working with Tilman,” he said.

He was working in the oil and gas industry when he heard from a friend about Landry’s.

“I flew to Houston, met with Tilman for about 10 minutes, flew back to Fort Worth and quit my job to become the general manager of 12 restaurants,” he said.

It was the best decision he made for his life, he said.

Fertitta’s company went public in 1993 at $30 million and last year he did over $4 billion.

In 1986 he had two restaurants and now owns and operates 600 restaurants with 60,000 employees.

Fertitta has amassed a phenomenal dining, hospitality, entertainment, sports, and gaming mega-empire that recently includes his life-long dream of purchasing the Houston Rockets.

After going public with his company, in 2010, Fertitta bought the company back. He is the sole owner and CEO of the company who has the vision, Beitler said.

“We grew by acquisitions. I was part of nine acquisitions, the first being the Rainforest Café.”

All the acquisitions have done extremely well including the Morton’s, Bubba Gump, Salt Grass (which is their growth vehicle with 20 new locations opened last year alone), and Mastro’s.

Chamber officials have been pressing him to open a restaurant in the Liberty-Dayton area.

“Just keep on growing and we’ll be here,” he said to a round of applause.

Beitler said they work off the basics.

“If you do that, you’ll be successful.”

Hot food hot, cold food cold. It’s simple, he said, and they go by the 95/5 rule.

“Ninety-five percent of what we do, we do well. It’s that five percent we have to work on,” he said.

Beitler said they’ve learned to adapt to change when many don’t.

The key leaders in the companies he manages for Fertitta are the general managers. They are the key to their success, he said.

“I can’t motivate them. I can create a motivating environment, but you have to motivate yourself,” he said.

dtaylor@hcnonline.com