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President recalls how chamber helped her family

THINK PINK. Bobbie Guinn, this year's president of the Overton - New Lonfon Chamber of Commerce, wears a pink harthat to job sites for Arpco, which relocated to Overton last year. Charlotte Heldenbrand/Press photo


Overton Press editor

    Although Chamber President Bobbie Guinn now co-owns a local business, she brings another viewpoint to the organization: that of how volunteers can make an impact on the community.

    Guinn, who helps operate Arpco Valves & Controls LLC in Overton, remembers how chamber officials and other local residents helped her family shortly after they moved back to East Texas. Her husband Tommy had been paralyzed in a fall from a helicopter as he served in the Army and they needed help making their home wheelchair accessible.

    “We came to Overton and joined the chamber because when my husband was injured they came together to do the hamburger supper and helped us,” she said, adding with a smile that Tommy “is doing good. He stays busy. He’s getting a taste of being a stay-at-home parent.”

    Their son Dakota, 17, plans to join the Army after he graduates from West Rusk High School. Their daughter Dustie, 15, plans to become a teacher.

    “It’s easier for me to tell people (not businesses) why to join the chamber. I want this to be a place our children want to come back to. We always planned to come back once he retired from the Army after 20 years. Our plans changed and we came back earlier,” Guinn said. “I want my kids to go out and experience the world and come back here to raise my grandbabies.”

    One of the ways in which she believes the organization can improve the community is to offer a better living environment for family life. “We’d like to get the chamber more involved in community projects – making Overton look better. We have a couple of projects in mind that we need the city to approve,” she said.

    When her husband served in the Army most of the posts where they were assigned were divided into neighborhoods and “you could see the park from your kitchen window, they were so close.” Increasing that neighborhood feel in the local community is the goal. Educating residents in what the chamber is all about is another. She said that many people do not realize individuals and families can join the chamber: it is not restricted to businesses.

    Pitching in with some volunteer work is how Guinn became a chamber officer. Her employee Mary Leigh Dike worked at the Fall Fest and drafted Guinn. “Mary Leigh got involved first and dragged me in,” she said with a smile.

    One of the things she is glad to see is that the term of president lasts for two years. “You know what went wrong (your first year), but if you’re not around the next year, you can’t fix it,” she said.

    A summer kick-off for young people – scheduled 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 4, in Overton City Park – will provide water slides and other games as well as refreshments. Guinn notes that such activities will not just entertain local residents. “We want to have things here to keep money here,” she said. “That same day we’ll kick off the farmers market on the slab where Peanut Butter Emporium was” (corner of E. Henderson and Rusk streets).

    Anyone interested in selling at the farmers market can email: or call the chamber office (903) 834-3542. “Tommy’s actually heading that up,” Guinn said with a smile. “We railroaded him. We’re thinking when we get closer to June and people see what their gardens produce, we’ll get more calls.”

    Volunteer service can sometimes be a thankless task, but not for Guinn. “It’s actually going really well,” she said. “You’ve got all kinds of people on the board with all kinds of different ideas. People are getting excited. We’ve had some long meetings because we have so much going on. The meetings are well attended.

    “The one thing I have to say about this board is everyone’s willing to work. They’ve stepped up to help with the banquet or whatever.”

    Why would she endorse chamber membership? “The more businesses and individuals that join the chamber the better the community. The better the community the more people and businesses will want to move in,” she said.

    Speaking of businesses moving in, Arpco came to Overton from Arp a year ago. Guinn started as a part-time employee in the summer of 2008. “I needed a job nearby where I could leave if Tommy needed something. It was KC Production Services then. ”

    It became Arpco on Feb. 12, 2010 when she and Gary Turner bought the business. It was in Arp until it relocated to 323 in Overton (two doors down from Evans-Hickman Insurance and next door to the old Reliable Contractors site). “Somebody came in and actually asked if Reliable had started back up,” she said.

    Don’t expect the company name to change to Overtonco, since Arpco was not a reflection of it being in Arp. “The man we bought the company from, that was his last name first: Allen Richard Phillip Company,” Guinn said. “ ‘Arpco’ was already on our valves and it was recognized so we left it.”

    The company assembles shutdown valves and is shipping them all over. “We keep the pressure on the wells from getting too high or too low. We’ve been shipping like crazy up north to Pennsylvania and Colorado. The farthest we’ve shipped is Romania. We do shipping but we also do servicing – installing valves or fixing them if something’s wrong with them. We hadn’t shipped to Colorado since 2008. I’m excited,” she said.

    They employ 11 including her and Turner and they also hired three part-time workers who are in high school. “We like to do that because when somebody gets out of school half a day, there are not a lot of jobs you can do for half a day besides fast food,” she said.

    Guinn was in her senior year of nursing school when her husband had his accident, but she has no regrets about the job change. “I love my job. I love what we do. It’s never the same thing,” she said. “That’s something we’ve been able to tell the kids: ‘Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you planned; sometimes it can be better.’ ”

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