Billy Joe "Red" McCombs' Life
and Business Interests
Billy Joe "Red" McCombs was born in 1927 in the small West Texas town of Spur, about 75 miles east of Lubbock. McCombs' father was an auto mechanic, but the younger McCombs expressed little interest in automobiles, though that market would eventually become his entrance to the world of big business, fame and fortune.
The oldest of four children, his family moved in 1943 to Corpus Christi, Texas. He briefly attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas where he played football (lineman and receiver) before serving in the Army in 1946 and 1947. After completing his Army stint, McCombs enrolled at The University of Texas, attending the business school and law school.
While visiting a friend in Corpus Christi, he was convinced to try selling cars. He was immediately successful and had his first dealership at age 25. Four years later, McCombs became the youngest Edsel dealer in the United States and his franchise was one of the few nationally to show a profit from the ill-fated Ford product. At one time he owned the sixth-largest auto conglomerate in the U.S., comprising more than 50 dealerships.
In 1958, he and wife Charline moved to San Antonio where he partnered with Austin Hemphill in a Ford dealership from which McCombs would begin an automobile empire built on McCombs' strong business acumen as well as his honesty, integrity and charm as a salesman. A self-described "Bubba," McCombs took sole ownership of the dealership and went on to start more than 50 nationwide.
Red McCombs Automotive Group now consists of five dealerships in San Antonio. McCombs was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame with its Distinguished Service Citation, the most prestigious award given in the automobile industry.
McCombs and an associate, Lowry Mays, formed Clear Channel Communications in 1972. Clear Channel Communications, Inc., is a global leader in the out-of-home advertising industry with radio and television stations and outdoor displays in 65 countries around the world. The company began its operations in 1972, and became a publicly traded company in 1984. Including announced transactions, Clear Channel operates more than 1,200 radio and 41 television stations in the United States and has equity interests in more than 240 radio stations internationally. Clear Channel also operates more than 8 81,000 outdoor advertising displays in more than 60 countries across 6 continents.
Koontz McCombs is a San Antonio-based land and real estate development company. The company is a respected leader in commercial real estate and has developed a portfolio of top quality projects in selected markets through acquisitions and development. The company has been involved in the development and/or acquisition of more than 1,600,000 square feet of commercial property.
McCombs has been active in the exploration of oil and gas for more than 30 years. His current venture, McCombs Energy, presently pursues both onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and production from New Mexico to Florida. The company actively reviews many exploration ideas and prospects generated by independent geologists and other companies, and also invests directly as a working interest owner with other companies that operate.
McCombs has also had a longtime interest in the sports industry. At age 25, he purchased his first professional sports team, the Corpus Christi Texas Clippers in the Big State Baseball League. McCombs then purchased two NBA teams, the San Antonio Spurs in 1972 and the Denver Nuggets in 1985. in 1998, McCombs purchased his first NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings. During the 1999 to 2000 season, the first year under Red's management, the Vikings went on to a 15-1 season, going to the NFC Championship for the first time in 11 years. McCombs received the Owner of the Year Award from FOX's Terry Bradshaw and the Executive of the Year Award from Pro Football Weekly. He sold the team in 2005. P
In addition, McCombs has been involved in various insurance companies as well as ranching ventures. He even made a new breed of cattle, the Gelorn, a cross between Longhorns and German Gelbreith.
For information on specific programs at the McCombs School, consult our contacts page. For media information, contact the Communications Director by phone at 512-471-3314 or by email at CommunicationsDirector@mccombs.utexas.edu.