Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

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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Become Janktafied: Meet Lamar Jones

Lamar Jones – food creator, musician, business owner, family man – keeps his eyes to the sky and his feet firmly planted on the ground. He also keeps his ears open to his customers and his mind open to any opportunity that may come around the next corner. First winning the McAllen Chamber’s Innovation Grant in 2014, Jones’ barbeque sauces have since won HEB approval, putting him in 247 HEBs across Texas and counting. “The Innovation Grant is still one of those things that, at the time, was one of the most significant things I had ever won,” Jones’ face glows with pride. “It was a validation that I may actually have something which could do well in the market once it got there. It helped me get all my packaging and retail ready. That was the big leap I needed to take it to the next level.” But Jones…

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McAllen Chamber Programs Help Entrepreneurs See the Big Picture

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is more than just a partner for established businesses. Along with city leaders, your team at the McAllen Chamber work to help potential entrepreneurs thrive and develop businesses that can prosper in our beautiful community. And that means paying attention to the bigger picture. Your success as a businessperson means success for our local economy, which in turn allows for more growth and business development. We believe it is our job to ensure that there are enough opportunities for local McAllen and RGV entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true. Because of this, we have developed a number of programs designed to provide experience and financial support to those who would best benefit from it. The following initiatives are designed for burgeoning entrepreneurs to find their brand voice and to provide them with seed money to turn ideas into reality. TheGoodPitch Competition Every business starts…

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Bringing New Technology to the Valley: Ranvu An Innovative Style of Delivery Service

Dorance Cuba was on a grand adventure seeking a second master’s degree from INSEEC in Bordeaux, France, this time in International Business Management. While in school, his wife, Gloria, was attending language school and doing extensive research into technology they could bring to the Valley. “We were looking for something to provide the area which the Valley didn’t have before. We wanted to bring technology, to be able to contribute to the Valley. That was the most important thing to my wife,” Dorance Cuba explained.   Ultimately, Gloria Ordaz Ruiz became owner, founder, and CEO of Ranvu, a mobile app and website developed two years ago that allows users to order groceries online and have them delivered within two hours. “We started with that line to test the Valley and see how people would adjust to it,” Cuba said. Winning a 2017 Innovation Grant from the McAllen Chamber, and grateful…

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Climbing the Heights of Inspiration – Inventor Since Childhood, David Rodriguez

Clambering up a 300-foot tower, David Rodriguez once again had to estimate the correct size of tool needed to remove the nut. Lugging around all his heavy tools was becoming a hassle and he intuitively knew there was a better way to get his work done. Identifying the problem, Rodriguez worked diligently for six years to finalize his solution. Finding his way through the maze of obtaining his patent was a bit of challenge, but the effort was worth the wait. David’s little invention – the EZ Gauge-Refinery – is an ingenious tool which can be used to measure the size of nuts, bolts, and drift pins in the oil industry. With a little adjustment, he created the ideal tool for any industry – the EZ Gauge-Mechanic. For this, the McAllen Chamber named him one of their 2017 Innovation Grant winners. “When I was little, my parents were never strict…

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Millennials and the Right Group Dynamics

There is a lot of emphasis, these days, on teams and collaboration in the workplace. For many long-established employees who came of age in the workforce where individual achievement was prized over everything else, today’s workplace can be challenging, to say the least, and down-right hard to master, at the highest level. The millennials have a “step up” on the older workforce, because they have been taught and trained to function well in groups. I have recently had an opportunity to watch a group of 20-something work in teams and it is an enlightening process to watch. The dynamics of the group were very supportive of each other and focused on finding the right ideas and directions. Here are some key lessons I learned from watching these Millennials work in teams: 1) No Egos. I was surprised with the give and take in the group. Each idea or thought that…

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Mesquite Beans From Lowly Seed to Dazzling Superfood

Texas has one of the highest populations of mesquite trees in the country. To the average person this really doesn’t matter, but to Victoria Barrera Cappadona, those feathery, spring-green trees with long, glittering, golden beans have been the catalysts to a tremendous change in her life. “When we were in the midst of a heavy drought in 2012, everything dried up around the ranch except the mesquite trees which looked like Christmas trees with their beautiful glorious pods,” Cappadona stated. “I asked my father-in-law what could be done with the mesquite bean pods and he said he’d heard of honey and jelly being made.” Launching into research mode, a common mode for this inquisitive, exuberant woman, Victoria began studying about the bean and discovered its many health benefits. Deciding to act on the knowledge, she first launched her original Mesquite Bean Jelly-experiment with the Chilli Pequin for a delicious added…

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Being Centered

There are lots of challenges in the workplace. Finding the balance between being “all-in” and productive and keeping your life in balance is hard, especially in today’s world of being connected to work 24/7 every day. The productivity experts tell us that finding a balance or “being centered” is critical, not only for strong performances, but also for living a life that is filled with joy and fulfillment. So how does a person find that balance in a world that appears to be going faster and faster every day? The answer lies not in just one solution, but in a variety of thoughts and processes that bring our focus to how we think and our attitudes. Like most things in life, there is a discipline to achieving “being centered.” Here is a list of some of the key elements, based on what several experts have written and discussed: 1) Sleep.…

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Turning Ideas into Reality: Innovation & Entrepreneur Programs

The McAllen metro area and its surrounding communities are evolving. We are in the midst of growing opportunity, cutting-edge technology, and favorable conditions for new businesses. City leaders and your team members at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce are absolutely ecstatic about the possibilities that lie before us. Perhaps what makes these prospects so exciting is that the individuals who make up our community have stepped up to the plate. Many of you are ready to turn your business dreams and products into a reality. There is a sense of great potential in the air that seems to draw people to McAllen and we are eager to help those who are ready to contribute to our great city. It is because of this reason that we have created a number of programs, services, and partnerships with other local organizations to provide innovators and entrepreneurs the support, connections, and funding they…

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Ode to Cliff

This is another installment of my “Ode to Cliff” columns. Cliff was the mailman on the television series Cheers, who sat at the end of the bar, spouting off the origins for sayings that were never right, but sounds vaguely familiar to someone I know. Better Half. It is not uncommon to introduce our spouses as our “better half.” I do it all the time. The phrase comes from the Middle East where a Bedouin had insulted a prince and the prince had ordered the Bedouin to be put to death. The Bedouin’s wife pleaded with the prince not to kill her husband. The wife stated it was not her “whole” husband who had insulted the prince, but just half of her husband. She asserted that she made up the other half of her husband (the better half). She had not insulted the prince and the husband, she argued, was…

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