The Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week is May 1 - May 7, 2017. This year's theme is, "Dream Big, Start Small." This is truly what Ward Cooper did in 1967. Cooper was tired of moving his family all over the United States while working in the oilfield industry. He decided to settle his family down in the North Channel Area and purchased a home on Westmont Street. He borrowed $10,000 and bought into his brother's fire equipment company. After a short period of time, Cooper realized this was not going to work out. He sold his interest back to his brother, but decided to stay in the fire equipment business. He bought a van, used the shed in his backyard and started A-1 Fire Equipment from his home. Cooper would spend each week "cold calling" on companies until he built up a clientele. Starting with himself and one van, A-1 Fire Equipment has now grown to over 40 employees and 25 company vehicles.
Cooper knew that if he was going to grow his new business, he would have to build in a good location. He was offered a parcel of land on Federal Road. However, he had the foresight to realize that frontage property on I-10 East would be a better location. Even though the freeway was still under construction, Cooper purchased land and built at 12711 I-10 East Freeway.
Cooper is 91 years old and still going strong. His step-son, Kevin Coggins, has been with the company for 38 years and is the President. They are distributors for suppression systems, fire alarms and fire extinguishers. According to Coggins, last year, A-1 Fire sold more Amerex fire suppression systems than any other company in the United States. The company values their employee and offers excellent benefits. The mission of A-1 Fire Equipment Co., Inc is to provide the highest quality fire equipment from leading manufacturers to protect property and life. For additional information, contact A-1 Fire Equipment at 713-455- 0296.
Note: Dr. Grant is a former president of the Chamber and Mr. Cooper’s son-in-law.
by Margie Buentello, IOM & Charles Grant, Ph.D
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