“I’m originally from El Paso. It’s the town that Texas doesn’t claim, and Mexico doesn’t want,” Will Hawkins laughs. He and his wife Lisa, along with their 3 daughters, couldn’t be further from the deserts of El Paso as they recount the adventures that have brought them to Cordillera Ranch. Hawkins, who was homeless and lived in his car for a period, eventually went on to build one of Texas’ most successful service companies, which sold for millions in 2007. However, the love of people, and business, has him back at the grind.
Born in El Paso, Hawkins didn’t learn English until he was 5. With Spanish-speaking help around the family home, Hawkins soaked up the language and didn’t learn English until he was into formal schooling. After his father passed away when Hawkins was only 2, his mother eventually re-married when he was 4. Unfortunately, Hawkins endured a very unique upbringing. “My dad passed when I was only 2. My mom died when I was 13. My stepdad remarried, and then he died shortly thereafter when I was 15. So I finished out high school with his new wife, my step-mom. It was tough to say the least.”
And while it was hard, it seemed to have taught Hawkins that each day was to be experienced to the fullest. “I never got in big trouble, but I was definitely a mischievous one. I had no curfews. I didn’t know any different, and so that was just the way life was. It was only until later in life that you realize maybe you missed out on things. I was big into the outdoors, so El Paso was a cool place for me; there was just tons to do. I was pretty free spirited in just living for today, as opposed to down the road. The day after graduation I drove to Austin, and my step sister lived there. I was just going to walk up the steps and register for college. I took a few classes at ACC, and tried to focus on schooling as best I could.” While Hawkins was focused on his schooling, his future was less clear. “Somebody just told me one day I should be an engineer, and I just said ok. I didn’t even know what that was, but sure enough, I majored in Electrical Engineering.”
While in Austin, Hawkins began working with his step-sister’s boyfriend in plumbing. However, no sooner than that began, they married and took a month off. “I headed back to El Paso. Since they were going to take some time off, I had to work, so I headed back. I’ve had a job since I was 14, and I knew I could find work quickly back home. So I worked at the Whataburger for a while, and then moved to the K-Mart Automotive department.”
While Hawkins might have been working, he was still broke. “When I moved back to El Paso, I was good friends with this family. At one point I was sleeping in truck stops and was homeless. I had a job and would drive down to the Petro, take a shower, and I did that for 90 days. This family took me under their wing. Her parents took a liking to me. They would invite me over for dinner. I was a mess – drinking and staying out all hours. They would invite me to church and I would say no. So instead they would invite me for dinner, but told me I had to go to church first. I had no knowledge of the bible. I’m in this service with these people, thinking about lunch or where I was going to sleep that night, and the light just came on in an instant. You could have a relationship with Christ, and that He wanted to know me. They shared this scripture, and I felt this huge weight come off of me.
“Luckily for Hawkins, his brother in law returned and rescued him from homelessness in the form of a job back in Austin. “In ’83, he called me and I went back to being a plumbing apprentice. I was with him until 1990, and then I moved down to San Antonio. I got together with a contractor that was doing a lot of the base housing on the military bases, so it was keeping me busy.”
New in town, and not knowing many people, Hawkins looked to the church for help. “I was attending Castle Hills First Baptist. I started going to the Single’s class about this time as well. At each class, the newcomers would stand up and introduce themselves. Lisa didn’t stand up, but I did. She was wearing a blue sapphire dress, but she swears it was purple. I instantly thought she was beautiful.”
Eventually, Hawkins got up the nerve to call her up. “I asked her if she wanted to do something on Saturday night, and she instantly asked, ‘As friends, right?’” Lisa adds, “I was not going to date the plumber. I didn’t want to go out with him. He showed up with flowers and I thought ‘Oh man, this is going to be bad’. He took me out, and I was surprised to find I was having a really good time. He took me to the Josephine Theatre, put his hand on my knee and electricity absolutely ran through me. I instantly was attracted to him. I had told God I’m going to let you pick out someone for me, but surely it’s not a plumber. Turns out, I was wrong and God was right.”
Lisa had graduated from Baylor, and was currently teaching, which turned out to be a profession she did not like. Looking for an opportunity out, she was introduced to Mary Kay. “I prayed so hard for me to find something to get me out of teaching. My friend mentioned Mary Kay, and it just naturally fit my personality. In college, I surrendered my life to Christ, and I figured I would be a missionary. Instead, He got me into people’s houses to share Mary Kay, and then people start asking me stuff like “Why are you so happy?”. It’s a wonderful way for me to not only share my business, but to share my faith.” And that passion has also earned Lisa 6 Pink Cadillacs, an honor reserved for only the most elite in the organization.
Hawkins fed off of Lisa’s passion for her own business, and strove to own his own operation, as well. “I had a Toyota pickup, and I sold it to buy a box van. That was the beginning of my little company. Eventually we were running five vans out of our little house, and the Code Compliance people came by and were none too impressed!” Hawkins laughs. But from that moment on, Will Fix It was born.
He continues, “We moved the company out of the house and I ended up buying a commercial space, and we had as many as 50 vans going at one point.” Lisa jumps in, “Will’s motivation isn’t his own success, it’s the success of his guys. He would ask them, ‘What is your goal?’ and they would say ‘I want a new truck.’ He would then begin quizzing them about what color it is, what do the tires look like, what kind of interior, etc. He wanted them to envision their own success, and he just reveled in it. He would get so excited when one of his guys would buy a house. Will would run out and buy them a BBQ pit and just celebrate with them.” Will continues, “It was also a sense of accomplishment for me. I loved that I would show up and the kitchen would be flooded, and by the time I left, I was holding a plate of hot cookies. Helping people always brought me such a large amount of joy.”
And that joy was transferred to his employees and their performance. At one point Hawkins was spending $325,000 annually on advertising, and the company continued to explode with customers. With three daughters, (Haley 18, Faith 14, and Gillian 10) they began to look at places to raise them, and eventually they found their way to Boerne. Lisa says, “We had heard about the Geneva School, and so I came out to tour the facility. I signed up our children for the school the next day.” They quickly looked for homes closer to the school, and discovered Cordillera Ranch. Will adds, “This house was under construction and had a lot of problems. It had sat empty and incomplete for 20 months, and so it had mold in it. It worked out that I had just started a mold abatement company, so we were able to get it at a good price, work out the issues with the place, and we’ve been here ever since. And frankly, we just couldn’t be happier.”
As Will Fix It continued to grow, so did its visibility, and ultimately, an offer was made on the company that was too good to turn down. “I sold it in 2007. Part of the deal involved me staying on board for a year, and working 80 hours per month. I quickly learned that if I worked my 80 hours in the first week or so, I didn’t have to come in at all the rest of the month, so that’s what I started doing,” Hawkins laughs.
Once released from his commitment, Hawkins immediately returned to the industry and started Drain and Air Rescue in Austin. With a non-compete that just expired, Hawkins is also the owner of All-Pro Plumbing and Air Conditioning in San Antonio. Additionally, Hawkins is a co-owner of HB Southern Construction, as well as HB Trucking.
“Will I slow down? Nah. I’ve been going on these mission trips to Morocco, Kenya, Africa, and a whole bunch of other places and helping them with their plumbing. We’ve been traveling a lot, and are just enjoying watching the girls grow up. I love my businesses, but I love my family even more. “ Lisa adds, “It’s like Will says – ‘I love to work, but I love to live even more’. We try to follow that as much as we can. We also know that if you ask God to lead you, He leads you very well.”