"Growing up Cameron was good."
Cameron, the seat of Milam County, was where Drayton McLane was born. His grandfather started a wholesale grocery business there in 1894. His father, Drayton Senior, took it over in 1921.
"When I was 9-years old, when school was out at the end of May, he gave me a week off to play with my buddies. Then he told me he was going to get me up at 6:15 in the morning every morning and he was going to take me down to the wholesale grocery business and my job was to be sort of a janitor in the warehouse. I cleaned things up, and I worked from 7 a.m. to noon, so I had the afternoons off. So, that went on when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and then when I was 14 I had to work all day, and I worked in the summer," said McLane.
These were lessons, he says, that shaped his work ethic through being graduate from Yoe High School, then off to Baylor.
"I remember when I graduated from school and then I went to Baylor I couldn't wait to get 60 miles out of Cameron, and after I was at Baylor 4-5 weeks I went home, and the very first thing my mother said was, 'Come sit in that same chair and tell me who your new friends are. I don't know them, but I want to hear about your new friends.' Well, that kind of bounce off of me too, but later in life, I saw how important of a lesson that was, and I think all of us and our friendships with people who want to be encouragers, have great values and integrity and will change your life," said McLane.
Then, McLane went to graduate school at Michigan State.
"I had only been out of Texas 2, no 3-times, and so I drove up to Michigan State, had never been there in my life, shows how we assume things. I thought—Baylor them was about 5000 students, and I thought Michigan State would be about 5000, and I got there and there were 50-thousand students, and I thought, "What have I gotten into?" But anyway, it was a good program. It really matured me."
After finishing there in 1959, Kraft Foods in San Francisco offered him a job.
"I said, 'Man, that's going to be fun, living in San Francisco!', and experience something totally new in California, and in 4-5 years I'd like to come back and be in business with you. He said, 'Son, I haven't really modernized the business like I should have', and that, 'I could have run it for 4 or 5 more years, but I'm not sure in 5-years it'll be worth coming back to. If you really want to get involved, you should come now. "
And that is exactly what he did.
The family business is Cameron's largest employer and doing around $2.5 million in business.
"And, I said, 'Dad, what's going to be my job?' And, he said you're going to start off working on the third shift at night loading trucks. I said, 'Dad, I've been going to college for 6-years.', and he said that doesn't qualify you for anything we do here. You've got to learn this from the ground up," said McLane. "I had to go to work and I worked for 18-months on the 3rd shift at night and I really had a chip on my shoulder when I first started. Thought, 'I really should be up there working with my dad,' and that was the best thing he could have ever, ever done for me because it taught me how the business works from the very beginning all the way up."
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