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Raymond Cooper - Legacy Manufacturing Award

"Mr. Wylie" Receives Award for Longtime Contributions

Legacy Award Winner Raymond Cooper at his Land-Tex Office in Wylie

By Sonia Duggan - news@wylienews.com

Area businessman and philanthropist Raymond Cooper, known by some as “Mr. Wylie,” received the 2nd annual Legacy Manufacturing Award for exemplifying entrepreneurship and leadership within the Wylie Business Community.  The award was presented to Cooper Oct. 27 and viewed virtually by Wylie Chamber of Commerce lunch attendees.

The virtual video featured comments from the mayor as well as former Economic Development Director Sam Satterwhite, longtime friend and former First Baptist Wylie pastor Al Draper, Anita Collins of First National Bank, John Yeager of Wylie Insurance Agency and Susan Shuler, former Plano Children’s Medical Clinic Director.

Cooper, 88, is well-known for his contributions to the Wylie business community which began 63 years ago with the formation of his company, Universal Transformer. As his business grew over the years, his role in the community grew.  The entrepreneur was known for his role in rallying support for the Economic Development Corporation, his involvement in helping organize the chamber, and his devotion to his favorite philanthropy, the Wylie Community Christian Care Center.

Despite his contributions, Cooper said he was surprised, and honored, to receive the award.  His work ethic, his entrepreneurial skills, and his tenacity led Cooper to be recognized for his efforts.

He discovered Wylie years ago when he decided to strike out on his own after working for a startup under the tutelage of two former TI bosses.  When the company struggled, Cooper jumped ship and struck his first business deal in the late 50s.

To some, the deal may sound a bit like something one of the investors on “Shark Tank” would have put together.  “I came out to Wylie and put in a deal,” Cooper said in an earlier interview. “I talked to one of these guys who made fish tanks and he paid 50 cents apiece for these coils that put the air bubbles in it, and I talked him into giving me 75 cents (each) for 10,000 of them, then I would revert back to 50 cents and he could depend on delivery. That’s how I got enough money to start.”

Armed with a few hundred dollars, Raymond set up shop just off Ballard Avenue, manufacturing magnetics for sound systems.  “In today’s economy, if you don’t have a quarter of a million, don’t start, but back then I had $375,” he said. “And how I made it, I don’t know.”

His second year in Wylie, Raymond built a free-standing building at 1000 Cooper Drive, behind what is now Walgreens. When business was booming, he employed about 45 workers, many of them from the area.

Though Universal Transformer has since relocated to Farmersville and is now run (mostly) by his three children, Cooper likes to stay involved and he finds time to manage his other company Land-Tex Realty, formed in Wylie in 1972, to facilitate his real estate deals.

Over the years, Cooper networked and contributed extensively to help grow the city to what it is today. He helped rebuild sidewalks and install antique lights downtown, donated a baseball field and concession stand at Wylie’s first ballpark, served on countless boards, and helped organize the Wylie Economic Development Corporation, of which he served as president twice.

Yeager, who served on the EDC board, said in order to form the EDC years ago, the city had to have an election. “He was very instrumental in getting it passed,” Yeager said. “The EDC is what it is today because of him,” Yeager added.

“It was created in 1989 and it was the second such corporation in the State of Texas,” Satterwhite said. The former EDC director has enjoyed a longstanding friendship and business relationship with Cooper. “It wouldn’t be the community it is without you,” Satterwhite said in the video. Cooper is proud of the WEDC. “It sure has served a good purpose,” he said. “And it’s caused us to have some nice parks and some nice looking parkways.”

Aside from his keen business sense, Cooper is known for his support of the Christian Care Center. Raymond’s good friend, Rev. Al Draper, former First Baptist Wylie pastor, was one of the original founders of the Christian Care Center, along with an alliance of pastors.  Draper said, “God blessed Wylie when Raymond Cooper came to the area.”  Cooper not only donated two lots for the original Care Center building, he recruited volunteers to start the first building and became its president. As president, he didn’t run the day-to-day operations, but he invested time, and plenty of his own money, to create a trust where funds could be directed, and later invested, so the Care Center could sustain itself. “He took ownership,” Draper said. “If he had not started this (Care Center), it would not be what it is today.”

Yeager said Cooper was “one of the most generous people I’ve ever known.” Shular recalled a story about two teenage boys being raised by their grandmother who came to the medical clinic she was in charge of years ago. “She (grandmother) had no food so we called the Christian Care Center and it wasn’t open. So, we called Raymond and he opened the Care Center and got food (for the family). He’s just that kind of person,” she said.

Mayor Eric Hogue reflected upon the success of the Care Center and how it’s helped its citizens.  “To be able to take something that a group of ministers started- and a lot of time – that doesn’t always follow through,” he said. “It is still here and it’s thriving and it’s growing and it’s not costing the city or the people anything, except we’re able to get out and help other people.”

Copyright 2020 The Wylie News
 

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About the Wylie Economic Development Corporation

The Wylie Economic Development Corporation (Wylie EDC) is funded through a citywide half-cent sales tax that is impacted/funded via the 220,000 consumers in our retail trade area. The Wylie EDC facilitates corporate relocations, local expansions of existing businesses, retail/commercial development and revitalization projects that lead to the creation of new jobs and the generation of additional tax revenue for the community.

For more information, visit www.WylieEDC.com.

 

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