• 59°

Verrets to be honored as PA small businessmen of year

When Steve Verret conjures up his earliest memory of his family’s business the first thing that pops in his mind is of it being a fun place where his family gathered.

It wasn’t a surprise Verret, 53, the CEO and president of Stoneburner-Verret Electric, had to reach back to his early childhood years to retrieve the memory.

The Verrets, beginning with his grandfather Joseph A. Verret Sr., “Papa Joe,” who began working at the then Stoneburner Electric Co. in 1917, have either been employees of or have owned the company and several other family members have worked for the store.

The company was founded by the Stoneburner family in 1913 and has been in continuous operation on Procter Street for 93 years.

The company provides residential, commercial, institutional and electrical repairs and installation and operates as a full-service electrical distribution center and lighting showroom.

Tuesday Steve and Jack Verret Jr., his father, will be honored as the Port Arthur Small Business Persons or the Year by the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, the Service Corps of Retail Executives and the Golden Triangle Minority Business Council at a banquet at the John Gray Center at the Lamar University campus.

“Growing up I got to follow in my father’s and my grandfather’s footsteps,” Steve Verret said. “Business was done on a handshake and the philosophy has always been to render excellent reliable service with a competitive and fair price with an iron clad guarantee of satisfaction.”

Jack Verret Jr. said he began working for the company when he was a teenager during the Great Depression as a shop boy and earned $12 a week, which he said was a good salary then.

The business was relocated from the 600 block of Procter Street to its current location at 1949 Procter St., which was the Pat Wood Drug Store.

In 1953, Papa Joe Verret Sr. and Jack Verret Jr. purchased the electric company and it was renamed the Stoneburner-Verret Electric company.

After Papa Joe Verret Sr. died in 1970, Jack Verret Jr. and his wife Beverly, who was instrumental for many years running the business before her death, bought it.

Jack Verret said there has never been a reason for the business to move from Procter Street.

“The area is absolutely safe,” said Jack Verret. “We’ve never had any problems. We’ve had good neighbors; we’ve been blessed.”

Steve purchased the business from his father in 1983 and has run it ever since.

One things that stands out about the company is the tenure of its employees, many of whom have worked for the store for decades and are like part of the family, Steve Verret said.

“The greatest asset a business has is its employees,” Steve Verret said. “We don’t consider any employees who work with us as employees, we consider them our partners.”

Neither Jack or Steve Verret knew they were going to be nominated for the honor.

“Our nominees are nominated from other members,” said Verna Rutherford, the president of the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. “The primary basis for their selection is that they have been in business for 93 years.”

“It is quite an honor to be recognized,” Steve Verret said. “Our greatest compliment is having customers that we’ve served for several generations.”

Contact this reporter at 721-2425 or dtijerina@panews.com