Author Archives: Ez Lara



Patricia Beard, President Credit: one word that can devastate someone’s life if the credit is deemed “bad.” On the other hand, “good” credit will find new cars, homes, and all manner of items acquirable, which could then land one in “bad” credit again if payments exceed the ability to pay. Tricky thing, that little word credit. But COSTEP, Council for South Texas Economic Progress, has a mission – teaching Valley residents everything they need to know about credit and financial literacy to become financially stable. “Since 2010 when the majority of student loans became a government program, our main goal at that time had been to service student loans. But we found ourselves taking a step back,” Patricia Beard, president, COSTEP, began. “We asked ourselves the question, ‘How can COSTEP continue to help the Valley?’ One answer, which became clear, was credit repair. We found numerous people were being taken…

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Atlas Electrical, Air-Conditioning, Refrigeration and Plumbing Life for Sarah Sagredo-Hammond, president of Atlas Electrical, Air-conditioning, Refrigeration and Plumbing, began in North Dakota where her parents were field workers. “It was simply the only way to make money at that time,” Sarah said. When her father joined the Air Force, he changed the course of their whole family’s future. Learning electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning in the Air Force ultimately led him to open Atlas in 1982. “I was 10 when my dad opened the company with my mom,” she said. “By the age of 12, I would answer phones on weekends, dispatch the technicians and do collections.” Though she went to work for attorneys after graduation, she always kept her hand in the family business, working part time in the financial end of the company. In 2008, her brother, working with their father and mother at Atlas, came…

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One thing people will immediately realize when meeting the Director of Sales and Marketing of OGI Hotels, Monica Vega, is that this lady is enthusiastic. “I started with them nine years ago as night auditor,” she said. “The owners would call at 3 AM to check on the hotel. I was so cheerful they moved me to Front Desk day.” She’s been Front Desk AM and PM, Front Office Manager and General Manager, working at some point in all 14 of the company’s hotels across South Texas. But nothing has compared to her current position. “You’ve got to be a certain kind of crazy to thrive in the hotel industry,” she said. “What I love is that there’s something new and different every day. I also love how OGI is a family run business. If you work for Oceangate, you are a part of the Oceangate family.” Bringing that same…

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Becoming a Bob Goodwin Award Winner takes a lot of work, persistence and love for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Marie Perez exemplifies what a good Chamber member and a good Ambassador stand for, and she credits it all to Bob Goodwin. “When we moved down here in the late ‘70s, I became involved with the Chamber, joining the President’s Club, now the Ambassadors,” Marie explained. “I met Bob and would watch him work. He knew everybody because he went to everything, representing the Chamber and the bank he worked for. He was somebody special everyone knew, respected and loved. I thought to myself, ‘I want to be like him.’” Because she is so like Bob in many ways, selling over $10,000 worth of memberships, she has reached her goal. Marie believes her successful 28 year career in the hospitality industry, including her 11 years at the Tower Club, was…

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Raquel Hochman, General Director-USA, Mexico Life in the oil industry is like a roller coaster ride. First they send you here, and then there, and then everywhere. At least for Isaac Hochman and family it seemed like that as they moved from McAllen to Tyler, Texas, then to Reynosa, and then to penguin heaven, Patagonia, Argentina. Last, Isaac moved his family to Venezuela where Raquel, last of their three children, was born. At that time Venezuela was one of the top oil producers in the world, and the government was involved in the business. “There was a need for our products, and nobody was making them locally,” Raquel Hochman, General Director-USA, Mexico, said as she told the story of her American petroleum engineer father. “Since he was already manufacturing other items for the industry and there was incentive to produce these items as well, he decided to start the company…

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Joshua Hill Chief Instructor Finding a need and filling it is the mainstay of any entrepreneur. Ex-Navy Air Traffic Controller and current Air Traffic Controller for the McAllen Miller International Airport Joshua Hill’s roll as entrepreneur expanded last year. Along with VIP Travel Consultants in McAllen, Joshua is the Chief Instructor of five total for South Texas UAV, (unmanned aerial vehicle), otherwise known as a drone. It was one of his travel clients who made him aware of the lack of training for anything drone related in the Valley. Not only does UAV hold classes in how to fly a drone, it also teaches people how to open a commercial drone business, answering such questions as: Where do customers come from? How do we market our business? What insurance coverage is necessary? Most important is the class which trains people how to pass their 14 CFR (code of federal regulations)…

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Gloria Gracia, General Director De Shopping En El Valle/De Shopping En Texas Gloria Gracia is a mogul of her own design, a go-getter, a traveling saleswoman, a planner, she is also a member of the International Relations Committee for the McAllen Chamber. There are many more titles which could be added to this General Director of De Shopping en el Valle, now De Shopping en Texas. Born in Brownsville, Gloria lived in Mexico until returning to Brownsville to attend college at 17 to obtain her degree in Business Administration. Developing her long time love for industry, she managed engineers who handled calibration services for local maquiladoras, and now maintains her involvement with the industry through her brother’s magazines including Mexico Industry. In December 2015, she established her commercial cleaning company, Clean Management Services, while continuing her career working for her brother. When seeing a lack in Valley promotion, he convinced…

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Celina Gonzales, South Texas Marketing Liaison for Neighbors Emergency Centers, NEC, is one of the fascinating people here in The Valley. After a career as a legal secretary in litigation law, Celina decided to transition into the healthcare field. “Healthcare was the best direction for me,” she explained. “Working in the freestanding emergency department industry has kept me on my toes and taught me to be adaptive as well as creative in my environment. “We’ve been around since 2009. I love being a part of a company that’s invested in the community and doesn’t hesitate to fill the need, wherever it may be.” Being an ambassador has brought her a whole new set of friends. “I enjoy meeting everybody, and love the relationships we’ve built together.” In her spare time and after family time with her two children, she has entered the Valley’s world of polo. Between watching the McAllen…

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HMG Construction Inc. – Hitting a Curve Ball Out of the Park


Hector & Laura Gutierrez Laura Gutierrez wasn’t looking for romance in 1999, caught up as she was in her daughter’s life, her work as an academic counselor and reaching for her goal of obtaining her Master’s degree in Counseling. Meeting Hector at a function for Court Appointed Special Advocates, she as a volunteer and Hector as a supporter, was no big deal. But when life is determined to set you on your path, it will lead you there. Meeting next at a political function and then at a wedding, she gave in to the invitation to a dance and handed Hector her pager number. Soon after he called. “It took me a while to call him back,” Laura smiled. “We were married in 2001.” By then Hector’s business was growing after years of hard work with his brother, José, and father, Horacio. “I want to give gratitude to my parents…

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Owner and President, Boggus Ford 1) What is your favorite book? The Bible because I don’t really read very many books. I couldn’t come up with a favorite book besides that and I read that often. That’s my road map to life. 2) What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is “Overboard.” I think it’s hilarious. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are so funny. It’s one of my wife’s and my favorite movie. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? Hawaii. I’d have to say the island of Kauai. I love it. When I get over there I think how I want to move there, I want to live there. I love the foliage. I love the smell of the air. I love the people. 4) What is your life’s motto? The Golden Rule, treat everybody like you’d like to be treated. That’s by far a simple deal. Another…

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Marketing Director, ServPro of McAllen Myra Pereira’s life is packed chock-full with work and family. Becoming an ambassador about six months ago, Myra jumped in with both feet. “I love it. Business has boomed,” she commented. “I encourage anybody who is with the Chamber to start coming out to the ribbon cuttings because it will increase your business. You get to meet a lot of business owners, managers and supervisors.” Working for ServPro of McAllen fits her perfectly. “I do the marketing, and it’s meeting and mingling with at least 20 to 30 people per day. Since ServPro of McAllen is a restoration company, anyone could need us. We take care of emergencies from hurricanes to leaking water heaters or ACs. We’ll handle all the mitigation and do whatever’s necessary to be restored-sheetrock, insulation, and furniture, for example.” For the time being, her primary job is raising her two children,…

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Chuck Olson took the round- about route to become a travel consultant, and he sang his way all the way there. “All of my degrees are in music,” Olson explained. “After teaching for a few years, I went through a doctoral program in choral conducting and literature at the University of Iowa.” Accepting a Fellowship in Sweden to work on his dissertation for his PhD, it was there he and his wife, Enid, began their ministry of music. Being asked to perform as a soloist for a Thanksgiving service led to his concert work around Sweden, and eventually to sending a tape to producers in the States. “They listened because it was from another country,” he laughed. Returning to the States, the Olsons spent the next 25 years traveling with their music. “My wife is a pianist, our two daughters are accomplished violinists. We traveled the world.” That, naturally, led…

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McAllen ISD students continue to stand out. There are 2 groups of students that have excelled and make the entire city proud. National Merit Scholar Finalists McAllen ISD’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program students Gabriel Ramirez of McAllen High and Calvin Beck of McAllen Memorial High have been named National Merit Scholar finalists. This Spring, Ramirez and Beck will compete along with 1.6 million juniors for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth an approximate $33 million at the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) competition. “We are very proud, for this is a statement to their hard work and everything they do in and out of the classroom,” said McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez. NMSC is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization based in Evanston, Illinois founded in 1955 to specifically conduct the Annual Merit Scholarship Program. Each year, high school officials nominate students with an outstanding academic record who are required to…

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As the definition states, Innovation Grants are designed to allow entrepreneurial pioneers to advance their groundbreaking ideas towards reality. Six individuals were chosen for the 2016 awards and it is a diverse group. From a bear’s arm as a gun case to an on-the-go golf tee carrier clip to foodstuffs to apps, here are the winners. Loading Screen Studios: Brando Lugo Winning a grant for equipment and office space, Loading Screen Studios is developing its first game, In the Year 2099. Alive with a brilliantly colored game screen, the gamers are designing it to be intuitive and customizable for the audience. In fact, their research with locals at various events gave them what they needed to finish the app. “After they gave us their feedback, we incorporated it into the game and were pleased we had listened,” Lugo said. “Ultimately the game became what they would want to buy.” Able…

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1) What is your favorite book? Other than the Bible, I would say 1776 by David McCullough. It’s an interesting look at our founding fathers and, specifically, George Washington. You have a direct insight into his thought process, his feelings and his inner workings because it features practically all of his letters he wrote personally. It’s from the author’s point of view and we’re able to see the incredible intellectual powerhouse that Washington was. He wrote probably more letters in that short period of time than most people do emails today. They are so well-written, so eloquent. Each letter is so inspirational. It’s no wonder people elevated him to the status he had. 2) What is your favorite movie? It has to be Star Wars, the whole series. Star Wars, the first one is the one that captured me in 1977 as a young boy. It’s timeless. The little models…

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