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Former mayor brings company back to Longview

By Richard Yeakley
June 9, 2015 at 4 a.m.

Mitch Henderson stands in his newly leased warehouse Monday, June 8, 2015, on West Loop 281 in Longview.  (Kevin Green/News-Journal Photo)

Standing in the midst of 1.5 million cardboard boxes in his company's new Longview home, former Mayor Mitch Henderson voiced his pride Monday.

"We always enjoyed being from Longview, serving Longview, being a part of Longview," he said as crews continued to unload the roughly $1 million of inventory into the warehouse spanning about 30,000 square feet. "It is good to be back operating here."

In need of expansion from a 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Tyler, Henderson decided to move Henderson Combined Group and 15 employees to Longview.

The move began Friday and continued throughout the weekend.

The company, founded in the late 1970s, manages two smaller ventures, TLG Industrial Warehouse Services and Flying H Trucking. The company started in the late 1970s.

After moving from a home on Cotton Street to Eastman Road and then to Cherokee Street in Longview because of continued growth, the company set up shop in Gladewater.

Four years ago, Henderson sold the Gladewater property and made the move to Tyler.

"When I sold the Gladewater operation, ... we went looking for buildings, and at that moment there weren't any (in Longview). It was like hen's teeth. We had to go in a geographic circle," he said. "Tyler was a little bit out of our way; we would have preferred to stay in Longview, but you have to go where you've got to go to find some space."

Henderson said the property will give the warehouse and the trucking sides of the business room to grow.

"We can grow into this, and if we can talk Scott (Zhorne) someday into tying it on — leasing us the other building — we might even grow right here," he said.

Henderson is leasing the property from Zhorne's business arm, Premiere Management. He referred to a separate building just north of his new facility.

From the property in the 3900 block of West Loop 281 across the street from the new Pine Tree ISD Stadium, Henderson will maintain a stream of inventory and 65 tractor-trailers.

The trucking company carries goods to Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

"We bought the property about seven years ago, and now we are retrofitting. Like this sprinkler system here, we are installing all the retrofits that have never been done," Zhorne said of the roughly $160,000 installation of a new sprinkler system.

"To facilitate cardboard boxes, furniture, et cetera, you've got to have that," he added.

Zhorne said the cost included obtaining city permits and boring under Loop 281, in addition to repairing the parking lot after the work.

The building, for most of its existence since it was built in the early 1980s, was home to Frye International, which closed at the beginning of the year when the owner retired, Zhorne said.

Henderson said he made the move to Longview despite not receiving an offer from the Longview Economic Development Corp. for an incentive.

He said he approached the organization after receiving an offer of about $45,000 from the Kilgore Economic Development Corp.

Susan Mazarakes-Gill, executive director of LEDCO, said the organization reached back out to Henderson, but their calls went unanswered.

Henderson said he would keep a small facility in Tyler.

"We have some customers that it just doesn't make geographic sense to move, but the bulk of our customers will be here," he said.

Henderson served as mayor from 1982 to 1985. He was preceded by T. T. "Tommie" Carlisle and followed by Lou Galosy.

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