By Michael Pineda
When it came to wanting a better life for his children, Justin Ellis didn’t have to spend much time thinking it out.
He simply moved back to Yukon.
Ellis, a member of the Miller Class of 1990, is enjoying the fruits of his labor, balancing life and business with a focus on family.
“I love that we moved back,” Ellis said. “l love the community, I love the involvement in the city. The community is like no other – still a growing town but we have everything there. But it is still a small town to where you can still know people.”
Ellis had been living in Nichols Hills, where he moved in 2002 after marrying his wife Mary. The couple had three children, but the neighborhood was not exactly conducive for the younger ones.
“When we lived in Nichols Hills, there wasn’t a kid within six blocks of our house,” Ellis said. “It was a bunch of old people. I wanted to give something better back to my kids.”:
Growing up in Yukon
Ellis had the typical small town experience, where more time was spent sitting on a bicycle than on a couch.
“It was awesome, a small town and got to grow up in a dream childhood,” he said. “I played sports, football and baseball. I wrestled a little bit.
“My mother was a teacher and my father owned his own company and lived the American dream.”
Ellis’s mother, Lendell Ellis, was a teacher and counselor at Myers Elementary. His father Don, owned an industrial supply company. Ellis also has an older sister, Kristin Lipe, who serves as the principal at Ranchwood Elementary.
“I grew up by Shedeck Elementary,” Ellis said. “We would ride our bikes down to the park. It used to be the Kentucky Fried Trails and then Walmart came in there, across the street and all of that strip mall and shopping center, that was the Kentucky Fried Trails and it had a couple of restaurants. It was a small, neat, awesome community to be raised in.”
Joining the workforce
Upon graduation, Ellis went to school at the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1994 with a degree in recreation and minor in psychology at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
He started in the wireless cable television business, became a general manager and opened up satellite branches across the country. Ellis came back, became a vice president with another wireless company and after leaving there, started a mortgage brokerage firm.
By 2000, Ellis was semi-retired at the age of 30.
“It was the most boring thing,” he said. “I lived out in Yukon. I had the boat, had the Harley, I loved to play golf but all my friends had to go to work. So I mowed my lawn three times a week and watched the “Price is Right” and it was the most boring year of my life.
“Then the stock market crashed and I had to go back to work anyway.”
In 2002, Ellis and his wife Mary exchanged vows and moved to Nichols Hills, where they would live until 2020. The couple had three children – Drake, Parker and Nora.
After the mortgage business, Ellis started an automotive business in 2005 and bought Harris Ellis Equipment Company in 2014, a distribution business his wife Mary’s uncle was in.
Ellis said the business services dealerships and independent businesses with the bigger equipment such as lifts, tire machines, balances and aligners.
“All the big stuff that helps mechanics work on cars is what we sell,” he said. “It can be independent shops as well but dealerships are our big ones.”
The business serves the state of Oklahoma, northern Texas, western Arkansas and southern Kansas.
“I’m not going to say we are recession proof by any means,” Ellis said. “But once the economy goes down or finds a little flux in it, your dealership business kind of falters. People are not buying new cars. When that happens your independent shops are busy. So it’s kind of one or the other.”
Ellis also runs a 1,300-acre ranch in Cotton County that is located on the Red River and serves as a retreat for the family when they want to get away. There is also an investment real estate firm and some other irons in the fire.
The good life
Ellis describes himself as semi-retired. There is an office in Oklahoma City which fits the bill, as he wants something to keep him busy. But he is in Yukon all the time, running errands for the children and supporting their sports and activities.
“When you have three kids, I am 50-years-old, You think I would slow down a little bit,” Ellis said. “But with the three kids, I am the football Quarterback Club vice president. My wife is on the Home Run Club board, my kids play sports, my daughter is a fourth grade cheerleader. We don’t have much time off. I would rather it be that way than sitting around watching TV all the time, which we don’t do.”
Education continues to be a family tradition. While living in Oklahoma City, Ellis served a four-year term as a school board member for the Oklahoma City School Board. He had also served on boards at Nichols Hills Enterprise Elementary and Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School ,while also serving on the Oklahoma City Public Schools Bond Committee.
His service on the city school board led him to value the education the Yukon Public School system provided.
“I realized, ‘Hey, if I’m a public school kid, Oklahoma City is not it,’ where we were,” he said. “So we moved out to Yukon for the schools, for the kids.
“I love that the kids now can ride their bicycles around the neighborhood again. The schools are awesome.”
Mary Ellis is involved in education, serving as the program administrator for Southwestern Oklahoma State University on the Yukon High School campus.
The end result is Ellis is able to live that same American dream that he remembered fondly growing up.
“My accomplishments, I don’t have to worry about a lot of things,” he said. “My family comes first in everything we do. If we go to a ballgame, if we go to one of their practices you will see the rest of the family there, from 17 to eight. OU games, we go to together as a family, usually. All the ballgames in Yukon so when you see one of us, you will see all of us.”