Pete Bell Re-visits College
Bearkat businessman Pete Bell '93 looks for ways to help people improve their lives, and he is fulfilling that mission through the work of the Cotton Companies, a successful fire and water damage restoration business he helped create only ten years ago.
After graduating from the College of Business Administration in 1993, Pete and fellow Bearkat Daryn Ebrecht '88 partnered with Wayne Cotton, the owner of a well-established moving and storage company in Houston . It didn't take long for the young men to recognize that their customers had great difficulty in recovering after a fire or a flooding event, and they wanted to help. Their efforts to help customers improve their situations and recover from a fire or flooding led them in 1996 to establish Cotton Restoration, a full-service damage restoration company. The services they provided quickly penetrated the Houston market and in 1998, not long after Wayne Cotton's retirement, Pete began expanding into new market areas. Today the Cotton Companies are located in eleven different offices across the nation, have more than 300 employees – and, thanks to Pete and Daryn – twenty key positions are filled by Bearkats.
Pete attributes the success of his company to the hard-working people he has brought into the enterprise. “A good company begins with good people,” he explains, “and then must continually invest in those people. Our employees provide Cotton customers with great service, due diligence in the performance of that service, and fair and honest pricing.”
Pete also believes the total educational environment provided by the College of Business Administration and Sam Houston State University played a part, too. A believer in the value of hands-on experience, Pete is convinced that his skills were enhanced during his undergraduate years through leadership positions he held within his fraternal organization Sigma Chi, his involvement with the InterFraternity Council and through other campus activities. “Learning by doing is very effective,” he states. He also cites the academic environment provided by SHSU – small class sizes and the willingness of professors to mentor their students – as important to his success. “Having professors who hold students accountable for their grades and who give one-on-one attention adds great value to the learning environment,” he says. “The total experience provided by the College of Business and Sam Houston State enabled me to move forward quickly.”
Recently Pete had the opportunity to contribute to that same learning environment when he toured Sam Houston State University with university president James F. Gaertner . During a stopover at the College of Business Administration , the founder and chief executive officer of the Cotton Companies – who was not too long ago a student at the College himself – shared some of his entrepreneurial experience with several of today's best and brightest business students.
For more information about this article, please contact the author: Margaret Quarles at (936) 294-4997.