Bill Gardiner might not wear cowboy boots to work or live anywhere near Kingsville, Texas, but he remains grounded in the values and direction of the legendary King Ranch.

Bill Gardiner, Senior VP of King Ranch
Bill Gardiner, Senior VP of King Ranch

He is senior vice president and chief financial officer of the privately-held ranching and agricultural company that owns the historic King Ranch in South Texas. It is recognized as the birthplace of American ranching, having developed the first American cattle breed — Santa Gertrudis.

The 825,000-acre ranch — slightly larger than Rhode Island — is the centerpiece but not the only piece of the company. Its nine operating segments have their own management teams. It is the largest citrus producer in the country, one of the largest turfgrass growers in the country, and operates the largest pecan processor in the world. Its 32 commercial hunting leases cover 518,000 acres.

Gardiner is responsible for numerous functional aspects of the company: accounting, financial reporting, tax, legal, human resources, risk management and information technology. From his office at corporate headquarters in Houston, he also oversees the retail operations, which includes branding and licensing arrangements.

Gardiner told a group of Mays undergraduate students his job is to help preserve the mystique and fiscal potency of King Ranch. The company’s leaders are selective about who they align with — examples include Ford trucks since 2000. Through the King Ranch Saddle Shop, the company offers high-end luggage and hunting equipment, and various home furnishings “A brand is a promise, and the King Ranch brand is a very valuable asset that has evolved over 160 years” Gardiner explained. “It is an iconic part of Texas lore.”

Business Honors Major Joanna Starling ’14 said she entered Gardiner’s presentation with little knowledge about King Ranch, but was interested to learn about its various operations. “Mr. Gardiner did a great job of facilitating discussion after the presentation and he was eager to answer all of our questions.”

Gardiner and his wife Nancy have two children who attended Mays — Meredith ’05, an attorney working for Deloitte, and Robert ’07, a CPA working for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.