Category Archives: Chamber News

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…

Read More

VTX1 Companies Acquires Ranch Wireless, Inc.

The acquisition will extend VTX1’s service area by 17,000 square miles.  VTX1 Companies today announced its acquisition of Ranch Wireless, Inc. based in Seguin, TX. Ranch Wireless, established in 1998, is a provider of fixed wireless internet service as well as residential and business phone systems in the area south of Round Rock to Kingsville.  They also offer digital land mobile radio systems for remote two-way communication. “This acquisition is important for VTX1 in that we overlap approximately 4,000 of their 17,000 square-mile service area through our northern exchanges,” said Dave Osborn, CEO of VTX1 Companies. “Their coverage area extends from south of Round Rock to Kingsville and includes San Antonio, San Marcos, New Braunfels and Corpus Christi. They have towers in these areas that we can use immediately to provide better broadband services to many of our existing customers. And adding Ranch Wireless customers to our existing customer base will give us close to…

Read More

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES – McALLEN HERITAGE CENTER

McAllen has a history full of Indians, cowboys, desperadoes, border disputes, military service, cultural exchanges, ageless architecture, and people – lots and lots of people. Once upon a time that history might have been lost. Today, thanks to the McAllen Heritage Center, (MHC), the city’s and much of the Valley’s history is safe. Elva Cerda, Managing Director and a passionate McAllenite, is one of the founders of the center. First opened in June of 2008 in a third of La Placita building at 301 S. Main Street, the Center now fills the entire first floor and is busting at its seams. Where History Lives on Memories come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s a wide variety of memorabilia in the cases and on the walls of the building. Touring the museum allows one to time travel. It’s a grand adventure. Close to many hearts are seats from the recently…

Read More

BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – LEO GUERRA, COMMERCIAL KITCHEN

Commercial Kitchen, specializing in restaurant equipment repair and maintenance, is Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA) certified. That is one of the most important aspects of this 24/7, 365 day a year service company. “To our end users, this means we’re not only trained by the manufacturers, but our own training facilities in San Antonio, as well,” Leo Guerra, Branch Manager, said. “Once hired, our technicians train three years to become master technicians, certified in electrical, gas, steam, and refrigeration. Guerra joined Commercial Kitchen 18 years ago, shortly after graduating from trade school, and has worked up through the ranks from service technician to service supervisor. “I found it fascinating to repair kitchen equipment. The next thing I knew I was Branch Manager, and have been for many years now.” A Chamber member for years, Commercial Kitchen participates yearly in the Business Expo. Using the event for more community awareness,…

Read More

PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – KENT SHEPARD

Kent Shepard Shepard Insurance Agency At the top of Kent Shepard’s loyalty list is being an Aggie, through and through. It all started back when Shepard, owner, Shepard Insurance Agency, was in the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, a Ross Volunteer. “Did you know in World War II, A&M provided more military officers than anybody in the United States other than military academies?” He bragged. “Being an Aggie in the Corps has probably been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. As a freshman you go through boot camp and it’s pretty tough. As a Corps member, you make such lasting connections. There’s still a group of us who get together a few times a year.” Raised on a farm with 1,000 head of hogs, 500 sheep, a couple hundred head of cattle, and growing wheat and oats, Kent’s ancestors had moved outside Graham, Texas, in the…

Read More

MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – TOM BROWNMILLER

Tom Brownmiller Director of Marketing Texas Guest Ranch Blanca Cardenas struck gold again when she suggested to Tom Brownmiller, director of marketing at Texas Guest Ranch, that he become an Ambassador. “The Chamber’s a great association with great people, and the Ambassadors are great too,” Brownmiller said. “They are terrific motivators because one can show up at an event tired, down, or sick, but they’re going to get cheered up. Augie and Blanca are always there with a smile.” Also in real estate, he’s served three and a half years on the Board of Directors for the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors as MLS chairman and then treasurer. An avid reader of books on religion and God, he’s been an active church member all his life. Coming to the Valley in ‘77 as a manager/trainer for Pan Am’s baseball team, he moved around with his wife until 2012, when they…

Read More

McHi Mariachi Oro wins multiple awards at FESTIBA

The McAllen High Mariachi Oro won first place at the 2018 FESTIBA (Festival of International Books and Arts) Conference and Competition March 2-3 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Performing Arts Center. McAllen High won in the Class 6A Division along with the caption awards for Best Vocals and Best Violins. Additionally, senior Kamryn Ramírez, won first in the vocal competition and was also named Overall Vocal Grand Champion, earning a $1,000 scholarship on behalf of MPR out of San Antonio and The Mariachi Connection.  “We are extremely proud of all of them for their hard work, dedication, and passion that they put in for yet another very musical performance,” Mariachi Oro Instructor Alex Trevino said.

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…

Read More

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,…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

2017 TOP 5 SMALL BUSINESSES

This year’s Top 5 2017 McAllen Chamber Small Business winners all excel in their fields – along with their willingness to take risks, their determination and hard work, and most importantly passion for quality goods and services. Best Medical Supply. Open since 1995; 15 employees Joe Trejo and his wife joined his sister in a start-up business for durable medical equipment (DME) for wheelchairs and walkers. Listening carefully to his customers is what grew his business. When customers asked for more surgically invasive equipment, he would add it to his increasing inventory in the stocking warehouse. Changing the course of the company and finding their specialty niche came after a local hospital engineer left a piece of equipment on consignment, which he was able to sell for a healthy profit. “At first, I thought there was no way it was going to sell for a great profit margin. A week…

Read More

MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – LISA CANTU

Lisa Cantu Vice-president Business Development Officer Texas Community Bank Lisa Cantu, a vice-president Business Development Officer for Texas Community Bank, is balanced. . . in all areas of her life. Ranging from her Beatles Fab 4 collection to her love of her top three sports teams, the Astros, Cowboys and Spurs, she stays busy enjoying life in many varied areas. Then there are the 35 years of banking experience she’s accumulated, from processing loans, retirement, and IRA accounts to commercial lender and branch manager. Cantu appreciates how Texas Community Bank loves to help its customers who helped it become what it is today. Her volunteer work includes time dedicated to AARP Edinburg, and teaching the residents of Retama Nursing Home how to protect their financial assets. “To know I meant something on this earth and that my life has value through helping others. That is meaningful,” Cantu said. Her time…

Read More

13 QUESTIONS WITH MCALLEN CHAMBER – JASON LEAL

Jason Leal Senior Vice-President, Senior Credit Officer for HIll Country Texas Regional Bank 1) What is your favorite book? I’m not known to be much of a book reader. I’ve been known to say my favorite books are Cliff Notes back in high school. But there is one book that I have read – Who Moved My Cheese? I read that in Leadership McAllen, Class 21. It has application in all parts of your life, personally, business wise, career wise, in that you really have to think about the fact that change is going to happen. Change can be good, change can be bad but it needs to be accepted and part of the life that you lead no matter what you’re doing. Your cheese will be moved. That’s stuck with me. 2) What is your favorite movie? I will be honest and tell my fellow Chamber members that my…

Read More

PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – VERONICA SANCHEZ & EDDA GUTIERREZ

Veronica Sanchez & Edda Gutierrez The Antique Blue House Veronica Sanchez and Edda Gutierrez, friends since childhood, are the vivacious, inspiring, and gifted women behind The Antique Blue House at 1005 North Main in McAllen. Merging their artistic talents with their love of antique and vintage pieces, whether it be furniture, clothing, jewelry or art pieces, together they have developed a unique store. “We love to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary,” Veronica said. All around the shop are pieces of their creative designs. In one corner you’ll see an original vintage end table, and in another window will be a stylish, repainted end table by Edda. Hanging in the vintage clothing section you might find an intricate, delicate First Communion dress designed and sewn by Veronica from another store she had previously for 14 years. “This is my time,” Edda said, as she explained how her children are now…

Read More