In 1936, Joe Barshop started the Banana Distributing Company out of the back seat of his station wagon when he began making weekly trips to Mexico and bringing back large loads of fruit. Joe was renowned for his energy and enthusiasm, and, as the business grew, he could be found personally climbing into rail boxcars to direct the lifting operations. He soon earned the nickname “The Banana King.”
Joe used his earnings not only to expand his produce business, but also to begin purchasing real estate primarily in and around San Antonio, Texas. He and his wife, Mary, also raised three children, Sam, Doris and Philip.
Sam and Philip became active in both the family produce and real estate businesses, and in 1968, when the Hemisfair World’s Fair came to downtown San Antonio, they opened the first La Quinta Motor Inn across the street. By the time the Company went public in 1974, it had grown to over 200 hotels. Sam also joined the founding Board of Southwest Airlines.
In 1994, Barshop & Oles Company was created when two leaders in South Texas commercial real estate, C.P. Oles Company of Austin and Barshop Enterprises, Inc. of San Antonio (now controlled by the Sam Barshop family) combined operations. A few years later, Barshop Ventures, LLC was formed primarily to manage the assets of the Sam Barshop family following Sam’s exit from La Quinta.
Barshop Ventures partners with Barshop & Oles Company in its commercial real estate operations, manages a diversified equity, fixed income and alternative investment portfolio, and makes direct investments in early and mid-stage companies in areas including life sciences, information technology, software and consumer packaged goods.
The Sam Barshop family also has a long history of philanthropy in the San Antonio community and the State of Texas including particular interests in higher education, health care, sports and community involvement, capped by the establishment by Sam and his wife, Ann, of the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute of Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.