LEE / WISDOM ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Though Third Coast Community Partners, Greg Brenham – owner of BrenTech I.T. – has been able to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, support First Responders and give away scholarships to the youth of Texas.
Houston ISD Lee High School Alumni Greg Brenham was heavily involved in all kinds of school activities for the Generals from 1982-85. Brenham played wide receiver on the football team, wrote sports news and columns for The Traveler newspaper, and also contributed to the production of “The Saber” Yearbook.
He attended Baylor University in Waco “back when it had 9,500 students. It was small and in a small town. Coming from Houston, it was what I was looking for.” Brenham then graduated from the Hankamer School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a concentration in Management and Marketing. “I thought I wanted to go into advertising, but I started at a company doing IT on a temporary basis, and never looked back.”
Now, Brenham owns and operates his own IT firm or MSP – a Managed Service Provider for IT services like break/fix, networking, data security and end user support to companies that do not have or want an internal IT department. In addition, he started his own Bar-B-Que Team – Third Coast Cookers – and they compete in many cookoffs all over Texas, including the Houston Rodeo.
How did you end up attending Lee – did you grow up in the Gulfton area?
Brenham: “Houston ISD had changed the attendance boundaries in 1980 and I was one of the few that came to Lee from Sharpstown Junior High. It made it a little more difficult to make friends because most students came from Paul Revere Middle School.”
What do you remember most about your time as a Lee General?
Brenham: “It was filled with fun. I remember great friends, teachers that I still talk about today, a little mischief, but mostly it was a magical time. I may not have realized how special it was, as I had no reference, but now that I’m older and had a son go through the high school experience, I can more easily compare and contrast a high school in the 1980s vs. one in the 2010s. Today’s high school is much more competitive academically. There is more pressure on students now to figure out their path in life earlier. In the 80s, it seemed more laid back. There was no state mandated testing or academic track that you had to follow.”
How would you describe the school culture at Lee during your years there?
Brenham: “We had everything! Very mixed, not only by race, but also by other factors. We had jocks, preps, kickers, jellies, smokers, nerds…and for the most part, we all got along. Sure, there were a few fights, but nothing like you see on the news today. At the end of the day, we were all focused on graduating.”
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Brenham: “I played football for four years as a wide receiver, safety and corner back. I was small and slender, but fairly fast, and although I wasn’t very good, I loved it and was determined. As a freshmen, we went 10-0, and as a senior, I remember playing in the Astrodome vs. Forest Brook. Those guys were huge! My other major extracurricular activity included writing for The Traveler newspaper, as I wrote a sports column about football and some of the spring sports. I also was in the Spanish Club, Critters ‘n Creatures Club, Science Club, and Astronomy Club among others.”
Which teachers and classes do you remember most? Which classes ended up benefiting you the most in your career?
Brenham: “There were so many. Lee was blessed to have a great group of teachers and I was fortunate to be able to take their classes. Mrs. Countee taught Biology and Oceanography and made me want to go into medicine. She inspired all her students to be better and she put a spin on biology that resonated with us. Mr. York taught Spanish and he was funny and made learning another language engaging. Mr. Robinson taught senior English and we had a blast in his class reading Shakespeare. Mrs. Satlof taught Journalism and ran The Traveler staff. Of course, all of my coaches, including Coach Yaccino, Coach Gaskamp and Coach Perry were memorable. There are a few classes that benefited me the most and had a great impact. I took a typing class where we used old electric typewriters with actual tape (and white-out when we made mistakes). I think I was the only male in the class, but that was right before the personal computer revolution hit, and it gave me a leg up in business. I also took a Programming class that taught me not to be afraid of computers and work through issues. As a result, information technology came easy for me.”
What would you say to current Wisdom students about your line of work? What should they study to get into that profession?
Brenham: “Information Technology has so many facets. One can be on the front end, dealing with companies and end users, or the back end creating content and programs. If a student is more analytical, a huge area opening up right now is “big data”. This is taking data from many places and digging down to see trends that affect a business’ day to day activity. Artificial Intelligence is already here and will be even more prevalent and embedded into our lives moving forward. There will be legal and moral issues along with just trying to figure out how best to use AI, and that is going to become a very hot topic in the next five years.”
What do you like most about operating your own BBQ competition team?
Brenham: “The heart and soul of Third Coast Cookers (https://thirdcoastcookers.com/) resides in our team members. Without them, we would not be successful. I enjoy putting on a grand event like the World’s Championship BBQ Contest every year, where we host over 25 companies and their employees, customers, and guests. We do it all for our charity: Third Coast Community Partners. Though TCCP, we have been able to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, support first responders and give away scholarships to the youth of Texas.”