Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

Tourism Disruptors & 4 Key Cornerstones

Disruption is happening all around us. The business models that worked in the past are failing. Just take a quick look at what is happening in retail, transportation, healthcare, and community involvement. These are only a few of the areas experiencing disruptions. A key area of disruption that we are experiencing in McAllen is in the tourism industry and how it is marketed and consumed. The disruptions in tourism are challenging the old business models we have built. Ask any hotel operator in McAllen about how different the market is today than just five years ago and a person will get a “hearty” agreement about how challenging the market is now. Disruptors are impacting how we are operating, as well as how we should be operating and adapting to the new opportunities. Here are just some of the key elements of the disruptors: Speed of change and disruptions; increasing isolationism…

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How Small and Nimble Businesses Are Beating the Big Corporations

During the Industrial Revolution, one key concept that developed was the idea of “scale.” Scale allowed companies to reach maximum efficiency in production, distribution, and profits. It also leads to the concept that “bigger was better.” This idea that “bigger was better” continues to play out in the strategies of many large corporations in today’s market space. The idea has worked well for the last 130 years. “Bigger” gave corporations advantages that small businesses could not get, but now things are turning in favor of small and nimble businesses. Three key trends that have been identified in Hemant Taneja’s and Kevin Maney’s book, Unscaled, and which are changing the business landscape are (1) The emergence of platforms; (2) Technologies that can be rented; and (3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing mass production. These three elements are letting small businesses compete against big corporations. The critical factor for success is the relentless…

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A Four-Month-Old Lab and Re-Learning Lessons

This past March, I did something my wife probably wishes some days I would have skipped, and I got another Labrador puppy (the dog was a gift from Jeanette and the Chamber staff). This is my third Labrador dog, and I tell you, each one is different just like kids can be so different. I had forgotten about the puppy stage, and for Labs, it is about two years. Lab puppies require constant attention because they will get into anything and everything, and Zoey had done exactly that these past three months. One of the new things I have started doing since getting Zoey is walking her every morning, which she loves. But it has also meant that I have given up my morning workouts. Still, Zoey is excited every morning to see what new things she will see or smell. The funny thing is we take the same route…

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Celebrating a Major Milestone With WiFi Stand

1 2 3 4 5 The road to success is paved with milestones, and local company, Wi-Fi Stand, just passed a major one – 100K in sales Established in 2016, Wi-Fi Stand has grown into a wireless industry juggernaut, working with dozens of Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as Facebook, Verizon, Netflix, Live Nation, Google, Ticketmaster, and many other of the largest names in the tech industry. The journey to create Wi-Fi Stand began at a Las Vegas conference but would eventually find its grounding in the Innovation Programs developed by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Wi-Fi Stand developers, Drew Lentz and Eric Slosberg, would come to participate in the Chamber’s robust programs, progressing through the I&E Network Meetings,  IdeaPlace initiative, and Innovation Grant competition. It was by using these resources made available through the Chamber that the duo was able to take their idea from a napkin drawing…

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The Day The Oregon Highway Dept Blew Up a Whale

https://youtu.be/y6lTSxJvR4w In Florence, Oregon, on November 9, 1970, the Oregon Highway Department was tasked with removing a 45-foot, eight-ton sperm whale that had washed ashore and become a public nuisance because of the smell of decay. The job of removing the dead whale fell to highway engineer, George Thornton, who along with his team and in consultation with the Navy, decided the best way to remove the whale was to blow it up and have the remaining pieces be eaten by seagulls, crabs, and other scavenging animals. Somehow, in the highway department’s calculations, it was determined that a half-ton ton of dynamite would be sufficient to blow up the whale into bite-size pieces. An Army expert with explosive training was at the beach that day and warned Thornton that too much dynamite was being used to do the job. Still, the half-ton of dynamite was buried under the decaying whale…

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5 Things Never To Put in Writing

I always cringe when I see certain comments in an e-mail, text or any other form of writing that says something I know the “sender” is going to regret having written or sent. “Offensive comments are like butter; they cannot be un-spread.” Caution is the best advice, or as the robot in Lost in Space in the 1960s TV show would say, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” I have seen several careers get off track because of comments that were made or comments that were made several years ago re-surfacing and causing problems. The easiest solution is never to put yourself in the position of having written something controversial or offensive. My email responses are always short and to the point. If I need to expand on something, it is easier to pick up the phone and have a conversation than try to convey my thoughts in an email or text.…

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Five Starting Points for Small Businesses

Managing a small business in tough economic times calls for a wide variety of skills. To be a successful small business, you are going to need to tap into many skills sets that include lean thinking, strategic and tactical planning, negotiations, marketing, legal, social and intellectual skills. The good small business person does a lot of things to be successful. Here is how to start: Cut costs. Start with running lean. If you have put off looking at costs until today, now is the time to act. Start with recurring costs, utilities, services, and fees that you have every month. Find ways to reduce your monthly expenditures. Negotiate. Negotiate hard when you are looking at new expenses. Compare prices, look at other offers, and talk to industry friends and do research on the Internet. Become well informed before you make a deal. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a…

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The ROPE Method for Terminating Employment

Hiring and firing an employee are the two toughest things an employer will do. Hiring and getting the right skill set and personality to fit within an organization is a huge challenge. Many times, when an employee doesn’t work out, it is because the business failed in finding the right fit for the organization. When the situation is no longer a fit, terminating an employee can be just as hard. No matter how carefully you plan, interview, and test, some people just don’t fit. So how do you know when it is time to consider letting someone go? I use the ROPE method to determine if a change is needed. Here are the four key ideas behind ROPE: R = Relationships. In today’s workplace, relationships play a vital role in the success of an individual and the business. On occasion, you will get an employee who has terrible working relationships…

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McAllen Businesses: 100 Years of Success & 100 More Years to Come

The story of McAllen goes back more than 110 years. From a dusty little border town to the international metropolitan destination that it has become today, the history of our city not only offers us a glimpse into our past but reveals the perseverance that has made our community great. It is a perseverance and tenacity embodied by founding city leaders and early business owners. The future of McAllen’s continued growth and economic success is inextricably tied into our past. The businesses that have weathered the many real and metaphorical storms the region has seen tell us a great deal about the character of the city and about those who have helped McAllen grow into a regional leader. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor the following businesses that have exemplified McAllen’s entrepreneurial spirit over the last 100 years. A Quick Note Your McAllen Chamber staff is honored…

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Breadsmith God Filled Her Heart with Bread Dough

In Colombia, South America, the mother country of Martha Garza, McAllen’s Breadsmith franchise owner, it’s customary to sit daily with friends or family and partake of a cup of tea and some form of bread. She followed her country’s custom by being a long time client of Breadsmith’s delectable goodies. When the opportunity to acquire the business became available, she jumped at the chance. “Though I was already retired, I got the feeling I had to go for it,” Garza said. “I went through two weeks of intensive training at the corporate headquarters, learning to bake every single item we make just in case the baker misses a shift,” Garza said. It’s a good thing she was prepared, because she was baking her heart out one night at 11:00 p.m. when the baker didn’t appear as scheduled. Perhaps her willingness to jump into the process was simply because she had…

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Mayor Jim Darling and The Stairs

There are several things I have learned while working with Mayor Jim Darling. First, he is high energy, and his kinetic engagement is high, which means things are going to move fast. Second, he is always trying to find solutions and ways to get to “Yes.” As an attorney, his approach has always been to find a way to get to “Yes,” as opposed to many attorneys who tell you “No” because it is easier and the safest way to avoid challenges. Third, you better be ready to talk about several different things in one conversation. Mayor Darling is quick and agile in his thought processes, so it is best to be ready to handle lots of different ideas. Finally, I have learned not to stand next to the mayor if you are close to stairs. He is a health enthusiast that believes motion and movement are the best things…

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Kairos Coffee Catering: A Surprising Alternative for Public & Private Events

The Valley, like an island of innovation deep down in the tip of Texas, keeps adding to its list of unique services available for events in the area. The latest is Kairos Coffee Catering, named after the Greek word meaning “an opportune time”. Gabriel and Jessica Sanchez, owners, are longtime coffee aficionados who dreamt of one day owning a coffee business. The two first met as teens on a mission trip, then again after five years when Jessica was attending Christian Bible college in Chicago, where she was studying linguistics and working in a coffee shop. “I learned the ins and outs of the business and how to make all the drinks,” Jessica revealed. “Gabriel learned also.” Dating led to the next step, marriage. A few years later, and after adding a little one to the family, they decided to move to the Valley to be closer to family. “Literally,…

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The Three E’s of the 21st Century

I have been reading, with much interest, the prognosticators’ views and ideas that the United States is in a state of decline. They say the economic engine that has driven the U.S. economy and the world’s economy is in decline and that the “new normal” will be stagnant growth and lost job opportunities. They say the high unemployment that the United States is experiencing will be around for a long time and that our national debt will force dramatic cuts in federal spending and programs. I don’t see it. The economy is changing and there is a shift occurring in economic opportunities, but this has happened before in our history and it will happen again. We may not like what is happening and we may feel threatened by it, but it is happening regardless of our resistance. In the book, The Age of the Unthinkable, by Joshua Cooper Ramo, the…

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Ice Cream with an Identity

Rolling with Cream Raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Mark Lewis – co-owner of Rolling with Cream – gave up the frigid north back in 2012 to take a job transfer in the infinitely warmer Rio Grande Valley. With the heart of an entrepreneur, it didn’t take him long to realize opportunities abounded in the Valley. Seeing Thai Ice Cream Rolls on Facebook, Mark began his research on the product, even going so far as to visit an Asian shop in Chinatown back in NYC, all for a taste test. Convinced of its possibilities, Mark and his partner, Andrew Gomez, bought a machine and Mark developed their basic recipe over the summer. It was winning the McAllen Chamber’s Business Plan Competition that gave them the boost they needed to bring their plan to fruition. “We did our Shark Tank demonstration, making up sample taste cups of the…

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Taste McAllen

If you missed Taste McAllen earlier this month, you missed one of the premier food events in the RGV. A big thanks to Chef Larry Delgado and Jessica Delgado for chairing the event – the husband and wife team did a fantastic job! Another key cornerstone of success for the event was the other chefs who participated in the event, which included many of the best chefs in South Texas. A big thanks to Chef Marcel Fortuin, Chef Adam Cavazos, Chef Gabriel Fuentes, Chef Russel Walker, Chef Eugenio Uribe, and Chef Sefio Esquivel. These chefs are outstanding and make McAllen such a dynamic place to eat and help each one of us in the RGV become a real “foodie.” The restaurants that participated in the even included: 2nd Street Bistro, Bodega, Boka 400, CC Sweets & Tweets, Centerplate, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cowboy Chicken, Delicias Del Country, Dragon Warrior Ramen Noodles,…

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