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The Travel Factory Legacy

The Travel Factory has a long history of travel service to the citizens of Abilene and the Big Country. The initial owner was a lady named Mrs. Ruth Gay. She started Gay Travel Service in 1949, and operated it by herself until a local businessman named Hulin Fowler purchased part interest in 1961. In 1965, Frank Etter, who had gone to Abilene High School and Abilene Christian University, and had worked for Continental Airlines, purchased Mrs. Gay’s interest in Gay Travel. Then in 1968, Frank’s brother Don purchased Hulin’s interest and moved from the oil business to the travel business.

In 1975, the Etters decided to change the name of the agency to Supertravel. Russell Berry joined the agency in May, 1976, and in 1981 became a partner in the agency. In 1982, we opened a branch office on the southside of Abilene under the management of Russell Berry. In 1984, the branch office moved from South 14th Street to its present location at The Plaza at Park Central, 4150 Southwest Drive, Ste. 120. The main office was located downtown on North Third Street, and they changed locations to an office in the Ely Building on Cypress Street in ’86-’87.

Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company purchased Supertravel in December, 1996, and in 1998 they also purchased International Tours and Jetway Travel. At that time they consolidated all agencies under one roof at the Plaza location. After six years, FDLIC decided to sell the agency. Billy Caldwell, a businessman in Nashville, Tennessee who owned several agencies, among them Enzor Travel here in Abilene, and Russell Berry purchased The Travel Factory in July, 2002. Enzor Travel was consolidated with The Travel Factory at that time, and the partnership has functioned profitably since that time.

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