Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards 2010
Mr. William Cliff Davis III
BS Geography 1990
President and CEO, Davis Medical Resources
Mr. William Cliff Davis III
Remarks by Dr. Ann Marie Ellis
Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Cliff Davis leads two successful careers: one as the President and CEO of his own company, Davis Medical Resources, and one as an organic rancher in Cuero, TX.
Through his medical supply company, he distributes orthopedic products and the wide range of equipment that surgeons use to conduct open-heart surgeries. The Japanese company Terumo, which manufactures much of the equipment he distributes, named him national sales rep of the year, three years in a row—quite an accomplishment.
As a rancher, he grows many of the organic foods—including beef, fish, eggs, fruit, and vegetables—that his family and others put on their tables.
Cliff formed his salesmanship abilities and his interest in the outdoors at an early age. He was born in Victoria and grew up in Beeville, where his family had office supply and sporting goods stores, and a ranch in nearby Freer. When he was 10 and wanted a 10-speed bicycle, he sold Christmas cards to make money to buy the bike. He also worked in his family’s stores and rode horses in the countryside, where he observed the cattle-ranching life and first thought about how much he’d like to own his own ranch.
After his junior year in high school, his family moved to New Braunfels, where he found attitudes to be progressive and the rivers fun to raft, and he decided to enroll at the University in San Marcos.
Cliff loved his time at Texas State. Classes were small, and it was easy to get to know people. On the weekends he worked at his father’s office-supply store in New Braunfels and as a cook at local restaurants. Because he was a cook, he always had food at his house and his friends liked to come over to eat. He also worked as a bartender at Gruene Hall, where Willie Nelson would drop in on Sundays to jam and you could see George Strait for $5. Cliff met George several times and played a couple of pick-up games of golf with him at Quail Creek Country Club.
A geography major, Cliff spent three summers taking fields schools with Dr. James Petersen, traveling in the Western U.S. and studying its geology and geography. He remembers the thrill of camping at 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada and taking a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon.
He also went twice to Doc Augustin’s field school in Yucatan, where the students learned about Maya culture. Coincidentally, Cliff met Doc at the same hotel in Yucatan 10 years later when he took his family there for a vacation. Cliff and his family were just arriving as Doc was arriving for that summer’s field school . The reunion, which surprised and pleased them both, developed into a lasting friendship.
In May of his senior year, Cliff walked in his graduation ceremony, thinking that he had graduated. But soon afterward he received a letter from the University saying that he lacked one hour to graduate. He was so upset by the news that he put off trying to solve the problem for four years. Finally, he called the Dean of Liberal Arts (then Dr. Jack Gravitt) who told him that, because the catalog year had changed, he would have to take two additional courses in order to receive his diploma. So, Cliff quit his job as a salesman for a medical company—a job he liked—and came back to take the two classes. He graduated in 1990.
Quitting his job to go back to school was fortunate, he says, because it led him to his career in selling open-heart surgical equipment and to meeting his wife, Acenet. After getting his degree, he went to work for the company Terumo as a distributor for their surgery products, and he soon went into business for himself, distributing their products. He met Acenet at Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, where he was a sales rep and she was a registered nurse. He worked in her area of the hospital a lot, he says. They have four children.
After living in Houston for 10 years, Cliff and Acenet bought a 100-acre ranch in Cuero with the idea of living there and making it a working organic ranch. Cliff wanted to raise cattle for beef, but he’d never done it. So, he began by reading books about ranching (isn’t that what a Liberal Arts degree teaches you to do?). His grass-fed herd has increased from 10 to 35 cows, which he slaughters himself for his own table and for a clientele of 25 customers. He raises free-range chickens that lay dozens of eggs each day, which he shares with neighbors. He has an orchard of fruit trees, he stocks fish in his water-retention ponds, and he grows vegetables for his table in winter and summer gardens. He’s preparing to plant 35 acres in olive trees for pressing oil, and he’ll soon install a wind generator to supply the ranch’s power needs. He says he uses his Geography degree every day in running the ranch, particularly information he gained in courses on weather and on the economics of Texas agriculture.
Cliff does all this while traveling four days a week in his medical equipment business. So, you may suspect that Acenet is also an accomplished rancher who handles the operation while Cliff is away. She pens cows and staples ear tags on them and gathers eggs and weeds the gardens and bakes bread when they run out, because there are no nearby grocery stores. The advantage to growing nearly everything thing they eat organically, she says, is that she and Cliff can be certain they are giving good food to their children.
And Cliff is a very good cook, she says. Listen to this menu he made the other night: homemade pasta with a cream, lemon, and wine sauce, sautéed tripletail (a trout-like fish from their pond), and vegetables from the garden. MMMmmmmm. Acenet says he missed his calling as a chef.
It would be hard to find anyone more deeply rooted in Texas than Cliff Davis. His family came to Texas in 1832, to settle on a Spanish land grant that just happened to be where the San Jacinto Monument is located today. In fact, his first forebear in Texas, Mrs. Maley, helped to feed some of the Texian patriots at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Because his family arrived in Texas before the Independence of 1836, Cliff and his children are members of the Sons and Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The strength of this heritage, along with his work ethic and his career interests in health, have contributed to Cliff’s belief in helping other Texans. He gives generously to the American Heart Association, The Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society. In Cuero, he is helping to launch the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum, he has helped the local hospital to buy a radiology machine, and through his church in Cuero he helps to feed poor families and pay for their medical treatments.
At Texas State, he has established the Davis Family Scholarship for Geography majors, explaining that when one helps students through college, those students eventually help other students. The Geography Department named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2009.
Cliff, you are a steward of your community, a benevolent friend of the University, and a great Texan. On behalf of the College of Liberal Arts, I am very pleased to present you with the College’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.