Words by Al Blanton | Images by Blakeney Cox
In the early 1950s, a wiry country boy from Townley stood nervously at the county fair, wearing a railroad hat, high-water blue jeans, and slippers. The occasion was the bull-grading contest sponsored by the local 4-H club.
“You’d show your bull,” Carroll Boshell recalls. “The better grade your bull was, the more money you got for it. They’d grade the bull as you go up the line.”
After graduating from Walker County High, he moved to Miami, Florida, to participate in the journeyman carpenter apprenticeship program. “We were doing these big ol’ condos and hotels,” he says.
Five years later, Carroll got called into the Army reserves during the Berlin Wall conflict and was stationed at Ft. Jackson, SC. Later he moved back to Walker County and worked as a salesman at Crump Brothers motor company before opening up a business of his own—“with the help of John Oliver, president of First National Bank, who believed, trusted, and had confidence in me to loan money to go into business,” Carroll said.
Today, Carroll twirls in an office chair inside Boshell Homes, the business he helped to found in 1977. Resting on a wall behind him is a framed picture of his prized bull—a reminder of how far a journey it’s been.
That year, Carroll and his business partner, Bobby Barton, forged out into the world of entrepreneurship, opening up a mobile home and auto sales business on 19thStreet in Jasper. The business was located in the old house that has most recently been used as an antique store, and Carroll giddily shares a few stories of that time. “I put the cars all the way around the house!” he says with a laugh. “Bobby was still working at the bank and he’d come down there in that big suit and tie. We didn’t have no heat in that big thing in the wintertime. I had a big ol’ coat as heavy as you could get. It was so cold, it’d wear my hood all day and have insulated boots on.”
After five years, Carroll bought Bobby’s portion of the business, and in 1991, moved the business to the current location on Highway 78. Three years later, his son joined him. A year after that, the Boshells phased out the automotive side and sold manufactured homes exclusively.
Jeff has fond memories of crawling around in the manufactured homes as a young boy. “I would play in the houses,” Jeff remembers. “I got to know the people that worked with us. They were more of a second family.”
Through the years, as Jeff watched his father’s success and the way he treated people, he gradually realized that this business was a part of him. So when Jeff told his father he wanted to join him in the business, Carroll warned, “It’s hard work, long hours, and you’ve got to be dedicated.”
“I told him he wasn’t going to fiddle around, he’s going to have to put his whole heart in it if he wanted it,” Carroll says. “He’s done good so far.”
The Boshells have hung their business philosophy on delivering a good product, in good condition, at a reasonable price. Jeff says that he learned an importance principle from his father: doing things the right way even when the temptation is presented to do otherwise. Indeed, there were times when his father could have taken the easy route, the path of least resistance, but Carroll always stuck to his principles.
So as Jeff thinks about the perpetuation of Boshell Homes, he isn’t just thinking about the financial side of the business. He wants to maintain the legacy of treating people right, the way Carroll has done business since he first opened up at the old house on 19thStreet.
In many ways, the office at Boshell Homes looks the same as it did twenty-seven years ago. The old couch and Carroll’s museum of memorabilia harkens back to a bygone era, and it’s clear that Carroll and Jeff are nostalgic about certain things. But, to be sure, Jeff understands the important balance between old and new—holding to the tried-and-true principles his father established while navigating the challenge of a modern business market.
The two men realize, however, that some things don’t need to change.
“I’ve still got that coat,” Carroll says. 78