Did you know that in 2024, Waco will turn 175-years-old? And did you know several local companies have been in business since the 1800s? I have lived in Waco most of my life and it has been a joy to watch it grow and change. But it’s good to know your roots! These tried and true businesses add stability to the foundation of our community. So, let’s spread the love to the incredible Waco businesses who have served us for more than a century!
There aren’t any Waco businesses older than Home Abstract Title! They have been around since 1867 and are still diligently serving both commercial and residential real estate clients. Their team is committed to “working hard and building and maintaining strong relationships, because transactions are much more than just deals, they are our clients, deserving of genuine courtesy, care and respect.”
Wolfe Florist is owned and managed by fifth and sixth generation florists. The name “Wolfe” has been connected to the floral industry since 1892. Wolfe Florist is a multi-service florist, offering fresh-cut flowers directly imported from around the world. They produce beautiful floral arrangements for any occasion as well as offer wholesale flowers and supplies.
Louis Lipsitz founded “Louis Lipsitz Wholesale”, a recycling company, in 1895. He recycled copper, brass, iron, rags, rope, animal bones and hides, glass containers. Today the company is still family owned with the fourth generation working at the company.
VP of Marketing Trey Lipsitz attributes the company’s longevity to “core values. A focus on integrity, fairness with customers, meeting customer’s needs and price transparency.”
Lipsitz & Company is celebrating its 128th year with 14 locations in the Southwest United States. M. Lipsitz & Company is recognized as a Texas Treasure Business by the Texas Historical Commission.
Lipsitz said they will continue “to maintain our values plus evolve with changing trends and technology to remain an industry leader.”
70% of all steel produced in the U.S. is made from scrap. Using steel scrap versus iron ore drastically reduces CO2 emissions and requires less energy. Recycling steel from automobiles is estimated to save the equivalent energy necessary to power 18 million homes each year. With many other positive statistics about recycling, you can see how this company makes a big long-term impact.
Lipsitz said, “50 years ago, the scrap industry was not always seen as a respectable business. Today, the scrap industry is seen as essential to the world’s growing need to reduce waste and save energy. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to that cause and make a difference in the community for future generations.”
Sam Kirkpatrick opened Waco’s first furniture store in 1900 with G.C. Witt and Connie Jones started the second store in 1905. The stores survived the Great Depression and the devastating Waco tornado of 1953, though the storm destroyed both stores. They rebuilt and later merged in the 1960s.
Owner Troy Goldsmith said, “We kind of had a niche early on. There’s a lot of furniture stores…. Our niche was our in-house financing.”
Goldsmith talked about the family-oriented business’ goal “to really know our customers.” The store has taken the time to know their customers and many come back for years or decades because they are taken care of.
“We really pride ourselves on going the extra mile. It’s not always about a sale,” Goldsmith said. “(The focus is) to try to treat every customer like they’re as important as they are.”
After seeing downtown slow down and be revitalized, then to see all the stores shut down and struggle through COVID, Goldsmith said. “I’m excited about downtown. I’m excited that the traffic has come back downtown. I’m still waiting for the true recovery from the shut-downs.”
Amicable Life Insurance Company (ALICO) opened for business in 1910 and started places to build an eight-story building downtown. However, in an effort to compete with a Dallas hotel, they increased to twenty-two stories. The ALICO building was finished in 1911, was unusual with a steel frame and was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and south of the Mason-Dixon line for almost twenty more years. It was one of the surviving buildings during the 1953 tornado that destroyed so much of downtown Waco.
American-Amicable Life Insurance Company of Texas is a progressive special markets insurer, offering life insurance and annuity products developed to target the individual needs of protection, wealth creation and estate preservation. It is a part of the American-Amicable Group, which was acquired by Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services, Inc. in 2010.
There are also many deeply-rooted organizations that have shaped our community over the years. Dr. Pepper was first mixed in 1885 at the Old Corner Drug and bottled locally since 1906. The Cotton Palace Exposition was started in 1894. Countless places of worship have served Waco for more than a century too! They include First United Methodist Church (1850), First Baptist Church Waco (1851), First Presbyterian Church (1855), New Hope Baptist Church (1866), St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1868), Temple Rodef Sholom (mid-1800s), and St. Francis on the Brazos (1924). Our beloved Baylor University also moved to Waco in 1886.
I hope you will follow along as I continue to showcase other historic Waco businesses as we lead up to turning 175 next year. This series will highlight some local spots everyone is familiar with, along with others you may be shocked to realize are a piece of history. These long-standing Waco businesses and organizations are part of the fabric of our town, and now you get to be a part of their future!