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Cultivating relationships: Business ventures have taught Doug White the value of hard work

By Erika Pedroza | Published Thursday, July 14, 2011

Living the simple country life and running an honest business runs through the blood of Doug White of Decatur.

For 14 years, the Irving native and humble businessman has made his home and storefront in the secluded confines of Wise County.

”I have country in my genes,” he said. “I like to raise cows and to have a little room to spread my feet. The city grew up around me, and I had to get away. This is a good place to live. It’s home now.”

Country Businessman

COUNTRY BUSINESSMAN - After moving to Wise County from Irving in 1997, Doug White of Decatur brought along his business, Watergate Irrigation and Landscaping. White is also an owner of Fresh Produce Market in Decatur and Mas Meat and Produce Market in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Since 1985, he has owned and operated Watergate Irrigation and Landscaping.

“Well, my last name is White, and when we were young, kids would call the house and ask, ‘Is this the White house?'” he said. “And we would say, ‘Yes it is.’ Then they’d ask, ‘Can we speak to the president?’ And we would say, ‘No, he’s at the Watergate.’ That’s how we got the idea (for the name of the business).

“Plus, watergate equals water flow. It goes along with irrigation.”

In addition to this business, White, along with his mother, Nina White, and sisters, Debra Sinclair and Lisa Simon, run a produce stand, which is now in a historic rock building on the corner of Walnut Street and Business 81/287 in Decatur, since 2006.

“The produce business is in my blood,” White said. “Since 1979, it’s how I made my living.”

Growing up, he worked in produce at Minyard Food Stores, where he met his wife, Lori. Through his time there, he climbed the ladder of promotion, eventually landing a desk job.

“I’m an outside person, you see,” White said. “That desk job didn’t bode very well. I needed to get outside.”

That’s when he started the irrigation and landscaping business.

He is also co-owner of Mas Meat and Produce Market with Don Tucker, a Minyard’s colleague.

“In running these businesses, I’ve learned a lot of values,” White said. “I learned hard work and, most importantly, how to do business. I learned that a handshake is an agreement, and you’re going to have to live up to it.

“If you’re going to call yourself a professional, No. 1, you need to be professional. No. 2, you need to be talking to people, connecting with people. You also need to look them in the eye and give them as much information as you can. Lastly, you have to come through with it.

“If you do these things, you don’t have to worry about the competition.”

In his honest way of doing business, White has developed personal relationships.

“I work for people,” White said. “They’re not only my customers; they become my friends. It means a great deal to me to see them at Walmart, on the roads.”

Living in a small place like Wise County has allowed those relationships to flourish, offering White his sense of gratification.

“I like to live my life as simple as can be,” he said. “Meeting people on the road and waving is huge to me. There’s a whole lot that goes with that wave. There’s a sense of confidence, a sense of trust. I did something right – be it business or on a friendship level – for that wave.”

White has three children, Cal, Andrea and Alyssa, and two granddaughters, Jayci and Sawyer.

Hands? Really?

COUNTRY BUSINESSMAN - White calls a handshake an agreement that must be followed through with in business. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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