If you ask anyone in Winters, Wingate or the surrounding areas, they’ll tell you how highly respected businessman Gene Wheat is. He’s a member of Lions Club and many other civic groups in Winters. He’s 85-years young and still going strong.
Wheat is the man behind The Crossing Travel Market at Highway 87 and TX-153 in Winters. He and Randall Conner worked on it, including Conner sitting at the intersection of Hwy 87 and TX 153 counting cars for hours at a time. They did the research, got the financial backing and took The Crossing from concept to reality.
Now Wheat is ramrodding another business opportunity in Winters and is looking for investors, “It’s a beautiful multistate hotel in Winters, at one of the busiest intersections anywhere in our area! At US 83 and TX-153, cattycornered from The Crossing Travel Market. The Crossing brings in more and more customers ever day, seven days a week, than many businesses in Abilene or San Angelo. A significant number of them are from way off like New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas or even Amarillo, who are tired and ready to spend the night, but still an hour away from a nice hotel to rest in.”
Business is Wheat’s passion, from his Wheat Energy Services company to The Crossing. He’s not one to back down from a challenge and has some words for anyone who may doubt the idea for the Cobblestone Hotel, “People say, ‘That won’t work,’ but I say, ‘Yes, it will.’ It has been proven over and over in places where the traffic count is great or where lots of people come. Cities that have large athletic stadiums can vouch for it- these thousands of people that come to their city pay for their big buildings- the local people pay them very letting in taxes to build them. We can do the same thing right here in Winters, only on a much smaller scale. We will get hotel occupancy taxes for the city to do other things with.
It’s worth mentioning that over 1200 cars have passed through the intersection at Hwy 87 and CR 153 in a one-hour time span. Conner has spent many hours counting them.
Wheat says that the plan to build a hotel in Winters is based on sound judgment and research, “How do we get this done – Cobblestone hotels is out of Wisconsin and will build us one, manage it and book it. It will have on-line reservations. It will have a hot breakfast, a meeting room and many other amenities. But, we must do our part; we must obtain investors ($50,000 minimum) for about 40% of the cost. Cobblestone will form an L.L.C – Limited Liability Company. No money needed right now, just a firm commitment! We will secure a bank to handle the balance of the cost. We have two banks that are willing to work with us on this endeavor; one is fairly nearby within the state and the other is out of state. Cobblestone will begin the paperwork to help us for the L.L.C. and work with the bank and us so we can start the project pretty quickly. All we need is more investors to kick it off. This s a 35-room hotel and is a lead pipe cinch to make a go of it. It will have as high, if not higher, occupancy rate than nice hotels in Abilene and San Angelo. Remember, we have many businesses here in Winters who have people coming in several times a month who need a good local place to stay.”
Wheat has taken polls to determine the feasibility of the plan, “Since the poll was taken a year or so ago, we have had two important businesses come in; Apple Moving, who store and move military folks furniture to Dyess and Goodfellow on a consistent basis and who employ drivers who need places to stay; and K&M Tire, a national tire distributor who have several tire moving trucks that employ several drivers. They have thousands of major brand tires packed in the largest dry manufacturing buildings that are later moved to tire dealers, big and small. Put all of that together and with travellers stopping off two major highways, this could well be one of the best investments people will ever make, and will help put the finishing touches on helping Winters and our area grow! People can laugh at me if they like. Is all of this just talk or propaganda? I don’t think so, and if I thought it was I would not be putting in this effort to make it happen! I have spent 68 years watching things go up and down around here, but the last 2 or 3 years it has ben going up, up, up and hopefully it will continue! We certainly have people in and around our area who have the means to invest in this, but have chosen not to, but don’t you agree that this is a good investment?”
Wheat said that the hotel can be a success when difficult times befall people, “We have different folks who do different things to survive around here. Agriculture is our base, but what about that year, ‘It just didn’t rain,’ or your cotton or wheat got hailed out when it was too late to replant? The hotel will still be here producing a bit of income, 5 years or 30 years from now. What if the oil patch goes bust or someone’s only profitable well drops from 20 barrels to 2 barrels? I hate to talk negative but I have seen all these things happen. The hotel will still be here standing tall and looking as good as it did 20 years ago. People can shuck a few of their least desirable investments if necessary. Maybe they have something that they could take a loss on and write off. Build this hotel! The time is now! Right now.”
The busy entrepreneur borrows a line from a popular movie to encourage people to invest in the hotel, “These folks coming our way will be glad to help us pay for it. They will thank us for providing them a nice, restful stopover and we will thank them for stopping by. Build it and they will come!
With the Bliss Hotel’s new owners taking over and remodeling last year, Wheat doesn’t believe there will be much competition, “Yes, we have a remodeled motel that is much better than it was before and we wish them well. We do not think we will be very large competitors. There are some events we have here that we can fill up the new hotel and the motel.”
Contact Randall Conner at 325-365-1026, or Gene Wheat at 325-365-1188 if you’re interested in investing in the hotel.