Mr. Speaker, Mr. Lupe Fraga is a living Houston legend. Lupe and his family are well-known in Houston. Lupe is the owner of one of the most successful businesses in Texas, Tejas Office Products located in the Houston Heights.
When reflecting on his incredible career, Lupe says he was simply in the right place at the right time, but had the guiding hand of God. Mr. Speaker, he always made the most of his incredible God- given opportunities.
Lupe was born in Second Ward on the east side of Houston, the youngest of six. As a child, another Houston legend, ‘‘Mama’’ Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo, the namesake of the world famous Ninfa’s Restaurant, was like a second mother to him.
This immigrant community with a warm family atmosphere, deep rooted values, and cherished relationships, shaped Lupe’s life and career. He says when he was a kid, he was a ‘‘little athletic’’ so he got a chance to play baseball at St. Thomas High School.
Lupe took that chance and turned it into a baseball scholarship to Texas A&M University where he was a member of A Athletics and the Corps of Cadets. He excelled at school and graduated with a degree in accounting. Upon graduation, he joined the Army, spent three years in France, earned the rank of First Lieutenant, and was honorably discharged.
When he returned to Houston in the 1960s, Lupe befriended the office supply representative at his new job and at age 26 he decided to take him up on an offer to buy the office supply company. Tejas Office Products was born.
Supplier diversity and Houston’s inclusiveness helped Tejas grow. In the 1970’s Lupe was given one account with Shell Oil Company. Never to pass on an extraordinary opportunity, Lupe grew to all nine Houston Shell locations and set the course for Tejas to become the largest independent office products company in the Houston area. Lupe never lets anyone forget that Tejas Office Products is a family-run business.
His three children have roles in the company. Lupe’s son Stephen describes him as not only a loving father, but a trusted mentor who loves people and believes in giving back. He never forgot his east end roots. ‘‘Dad always told us the community raises the child, he inspired me and my siblings to serve, he wanted all of us to help the community.’’
Lupe took people under his wing and made sure to offer them opportunities like he had. He gladly introduced people into the community and helped them make connections. Because he believed so strongly in education, he took pride in helping Father T.J. Martinez make the connections he needed to start Cristo Rey Jesuit School.
A quiet leader, Lupe would say, ‘‘My mother always taught me, be nice to people, not expecting anything in return. Just be a good person and do it for the right reasons.’’ Mr. Speaker, Stephen also told me, ‘‘Dad taught me about relationships.
He liked to get to know people and be good to people. He knew about the value of relationships and client satisfaction before there were any books on the subject.’’ He was a pioneer in customer relationship building and believed that even with technology, people want to buy from people.
Even with the emergence of big box retailers, Lupe found a way to innovate but stay independent, creating a partnership with a national office supply retailer to serve Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 clients.
Lupe has earned many accolades and achievements in his life including serving on the Texas A&M Board of Regents, Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank Houston, Director and Executive Committee Member at the Greater Houston Partnership, and Chairman Emeritus of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
He has been honored with many awards including Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M, 2015 Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, Mays Business School Outstanding Alumnus, Fathers of the Year award presented by Community Partners in Greater Houston, and the 2012 State of Texas Small Business Award.
Lupe and his wife Irene have three children and five grandchildren. He loves his Aggies and his Astros and spending time with his grandkids. Looking back on his success, Lupe has said, ‘‘It’s been an experience of people, it’s not me, I’ve got to say that. It’s about the people that have helped, the people who have encouraged, the people that have been there for you. That’s what’s done it. I take no credit.’’
Well, today I rise in the House of Representatives to give Lupe the credit. Credit for his impact on business, his impact on Texas A&M, his impact on his community and his family.
And that’s just the way it is.