Lessons of Business: Alumnus Learned the Ways of the Executive Early in Life

David McBee found success as a child, and also during his time at Texas Tech.

As told to Kendall Rompf and Allison Ralston
David McBee

Identifying value and creating opportunities is nothing new to David McBee. An entrepreneur from an early age, McBee started his professional career in college printing T-shirts. He later found himself attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit at Wells Fargo Advisors, where he now works.

Q: When and how did you get your start in the business world?

A: For some reason, I have always been a self-starter and an entrepreneur. I started a lemonade stand when I was about nine years old near a road project by my house. The road workers would pay me $2 to refill their cups, and I would raise about $50 per day. That’s a lot of money to a kid in the 1980s. After a full summer of selling lemonade, the money really started to add up. Not only that, but it taught me an important business lesson. It is not just about selling a customer what they want, but about making the sale at the time when they most need your product and making the transaction convenient. If you do this customers are happy to do business with you, and are even willing to pay a premium for your services.

After that, I ran a lawn business, which taught me early about the importance of marketing, scheduling and most importantly hard work.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My father has run his own CPA firm for as long as I can remember. He taught me how to treat people ethically, and to do a good, thorough job, and to never break a commitment. My mom taught me about marketing and sales. She was a brilliant salesman, running a local winery for many years. She had the most unbelievable positive attitude about life and had a relentless work ethic.

Q: What was your time like at Texas Tech?

A: I loved my time at Texas Tech. I was a student senator, president of Phi Delta Theta and ran my own business. During my second semester at Texas Tech, a friend asked if I wanted to represent their Dallas-based college T-shirt company. Let’s just say after two orders it was clear: if I continued with the company, I would ruin my reputation. Instead, I decided to track down my own suppliers and started producing the product myself.

A graduate of the Rawls College of Business, I participate on their Advisory Council. I’m an active alumnus and I’m working with other business executives to form the new entrepreneurial program that will guide our business leaders of tomorrow.

Q: How did you start your T-shirt business?

A: I found T-shirt suppliers locally and in other cities to provide the blank T-shirts, and I partnered with a local vendor to do the printing and embroidery. The man who owned the shop became a bit of a mentor. He taught me the printing business, computer-aided design, not to taste peppers just because someone dared you and how to play golf. I remember when I first met him, I made a comment about how I needed him to commit that he would work weekends and be prepared for a lot of new business. He thought I was joking. Little did he know that I would put him to work seven days a week for the next four years.

Business grew from my fraternity to making shirts for five soroities and three fraternities, and eventually I made shirts for colleges as far away as Texas A&M and Wake Forest. I had a few assistants and a bookkeeper, and then I brought my brother into the business. My brother bought the business from me when I graduated, and I moved on to my next venture.

Q: How did you get involved with Wells Fargo?

A: I joined a small firm called Everen Securities, based in Chicago. After years of financial industry consolidation and mergers, our little firm is now one of the largest in the country. I worked my way up from a trainee, and now I’m the managing director in Dallas. I have two partners, both Texas Tech alumni, and I have a junior associate who is also a Red Raider. We recruit exclusively through the Rawls Career Management Center.

Rawls College of Business

The Rawls College of Business accounts for about 25 percent of Texas Tech graduates.

The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in seven academic areas: accounting; energy, economics and law; finance; health organization management; information systems and quantitative sciences; management; and marketing.

The college offers an accredited weekend MBA for Working Professionals program.

Dedicated to connecting students, alumni and employers, the Career Management Center assists Rawls College students with their transition to the world-of-work, and supplies prospective employers with top-notch candidates, ready to make an immediate contribution.

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