‘I Am WT’ Podcast Spotlights Ron Watts, Late Bill Semmelbeck

Chip Chandler Nov 02, 2023
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‘I Am WT’ Podcast Spotlights Ron Watts, Late Bill Semmelbeck

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s student-run podcast continues its second season Nov. 2 with an episode focusing on two prominent Amarillo businessmen.

 “I Am WT” hosts Myka Bailey, a junior PR/advertising/applied communication major from Abernathy, and Thomas Rodriguez, a junior digital media and communication major from Katy, speak with Ron Watts, named a WT Distinguished Alumnus in 2010.

The episode is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as at

Watts talks about the spark that led to Officewise, the largest office supply/furniture business in West Texas and one of the largest in the state. Pivotal to its success: the late William E. “Bill Semmelbeck,” who died in August and was honored in October as a 2023 Distinguished Alumnus.

“We sort of had a dream put together. We didn’t have a business plan,” Watts said. “We came down here and met with Bill because, before he started teaching, he was already successful in business.

“We sat down, and he took our dream and walked us through the process of building a business plan, and then he came to me and asked if we would take on another partner,” Watts continued. “He said, ‘I won’t be an active partner, but I won’t be a silent one.’ … What a great mentor he was for us in guiding us.”

Semmelbeck, an Oklahoma City native, joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 and was honorably discharged in 1946. He earned his MBA from WT in 1969 and was hired as a professor in the then-School of Business, where he taught for 18 years. Before leading his own classrooms, though, Semmelbeck already was a proven business leader in Amarillo, where he founded Buck’s Sporting Goods and J&B Builders after moving to the city in 1953.


Semmelbeck retired from WT in 1988 and was named Professor Emeritus by The Texas A&M University System in 1992. He lived with wife Betty in Houston until his Aug. 20 death at age 96.

The “I Am WT” podcast embodies WT’s commitment to people first, one of the key principles of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

In the biweekly episodes of “I Am WT,” student hosts interview WT faculty, staff, students and alumni about what WT means to them.

Audiences hear stories about how attending or working at WT changed the lives of the guests, and how they’re making a difference in their community.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.