1998 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"You are never truly a success until you enjoy what you are doing, and balance your business life with your family life."
Born in 1945 in a working class neighborhood in Houston, Jim Turner was the fifth of seven children, and the first boy. He lived in the same house his entire childhood. He describes his parents as caring but disciplined. His father was a machinist for an oil company. I learned the hard work ethic from both my parents—my dad outside the home, and my mother in it,' says Turner.
All the Turner children were expected to help with household chores, including laundry and yard work, but Jim Turner also felt that he should earn his own way as much as possible. He had a paper route, and at the age of 12 became a stock boy at a grocery store. He also pumped gas at a service station. Throughout his school years, Turner usually worked two jobs.
During his senior year, Turner was salutatorian of his class and captain of the baseball and basketball teams. He also served as student body president. His athleticism earned him a basketball scholarship to Baylor University. He became the freshman scoring leader for the most points scored in any one game, 63 points—a record that still has not been broken. He was named the All Southwest Conference player at Baylor and made the All Southwest academic team.
After graduating with a degree in business, Turner entered a training program with the American Can Company as a management trainee. In the 1970s, he worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Company. By the late 1970s, he was made general manager of a bottling operation. In that capacity, he steered the company toward buying a Dr Pepper franchise. Through that acquisition, he was offered a job in Dallas to manage all of Dr Pepper's bottling plants. Within two years, he had an opportunity to buy the bottling part of the business. In 1985, he became the owner of the Dr Pepper Bottling Company of Texas, which he made highly successful. In 2005, Turner retired as president and CEO of Dr pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group, Dallas.
Of his Horatio Alger Award, Turner says, 'I don't think I have ever felt better about an award than I do this one. It is an honor to be put in a group of such high caliber people.' At the same time, Turner says he closely identifies with the Horatio Alger National Scholars. 'Without my scholarship, I would not have been able to attend a major college like Baylor.'
His advice for young people just getting their start goes back to what his father always told him, 'Set your goals high. There are enough opportunities out there to do whatever you want to do. Have a realistic plan and work hard to achieve it. Adversity causes you to work harder at what you want to accomplish.'