Category Archives: Chamber News

BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION WINNER – MARK LEWIS CO-OWNER, ROLLING WITH CREAM

Who doesn’t want to dig into a cooling, delicious ice cream on a hot summer day down here in the Valley? That’s what Mark Lewis and Andrew Gomez, co-owners of Rolling With Cream, are counting on with their unique Thai Ice Cream Rolls. Mark is an adventurous kind of guy. Instead of waiting for a job at JFK Airport in his home of New York, he opted for a job in the Valley. Arriving here, he was quick to see business opportunities available all around. About a year and a half ago he saw something on Facebook which intrigued him. Researching it further, the idea of Thai Ice Cream Rolls took root after he actually had a sample on a trip back to New York. “I found a machine and got my buddy, Andrew, to chip in half,” Mark related. “I told him, ‘I’m going to make ice cream.’ He…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEBORAH CASE DANCE ACADEMY PRESENTS THE 45TH ANNUAL NUTCRACKER

Deborah Case, owner of the Deborah Case Dance Academy and artistic director of the Rio Grande Valley Ballet, has dancing in her blood. “I was born to do this,” she admitted. “I started at age 4, and when I was ready to quit after 10 years, my wise mother told me, ‘You can quit now, but I want you to know, after 10 years is when you really know how to dance.’ I became a student teacher and have been teaching ever since.” Deborah found she loved listening to music and while listening, the choreography for the piece would take shape in her mind. “I realized I had something special so I made a promise to God,” she said. “I will serve You well in the field of dance if You let me always be in the industry,” was her plea. Not caring whether it be on stage, behind the…

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13 QUESTIONS WITH MCALLEN CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER – DR. J. A. GONZALEZ

1) What is your favorite book? The Greatest Salesman in the World. It talks about greeting each day with love, and I think that’s important because in this world there is so much that goes on. I think as humankind we need to make sure that we respect and love one another. 2) What is your favorite movie? “Good Will Hunting.” I love the fact that it points out not judging a book by its cover. Will, in the movie, was really a genius who nobody saw the genius in. It takes the perspective of somebody who was broken yet had so much to offer society. As an educator, I make it a point not to judge kids by where they come from, their circumstances, their influences or their gender. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was…

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Darwin Smith and Leadership (Who is Darwin Smith?)

In his article for the Harvard Business Review, Jim Collins wrote about the characteristics of “Level 5 Leadership.” One of the profiles that Collins used to show level five leadership traits of outstanding leaders was Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark, who took the paper company from a middle-of-the-road performing company to a company that outperformed 3M, Coke, and GE. Darwin Smith was trained as an attorney and joined Kimberly-Clark’s legal department after law school with the idea of staying a couple of years to gain corporate law experience and move on to start his own firm. It never happened. Collins categorized level 5 leaders as individuals who have personal humility, demonstrate modesty, shun adulation, never brag and act with calm determination. Smith’s introduction to leadership came through the Army, when he was told in officer-training school, “You’ll never be a leader.” Most level 5 leaders would not make the cover of…

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Small Business Saturday is Big News For McAllen

Small Business Saturday (November 25th) is coming up and now is the perfect time for us to contemplate the amazing benefits small businesses provide in McAllen and the greater Rio Grande Valley. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s “Small Business Profile” issued in July of this year, there are over 2.6 million small businesses in the state of Texas accounting for 99.8 of Texas businesses. These businesses employ nearly 46% of the private workforce in Texas or 4.6 million people. Here in the four-county region that makes up the Rio Grande Valley, small businesses employe 19% to 55% of the workforce, depending on the industry. The sheer number of workers small businesses employ in Texas – and truly all throughout the nation – should never be underestimated. In Texas alone, the gross state product (GSP) impact of small employer firms with less than 100 employees was…

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Man and Woman of the Year

This past week, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce honored two outstanding individuals from our community with our highest awards: Janet Vackar was honored as Woman of the Year and Paul Moxley was honored as Man of the Year. Both of these people epitomize the strength, character, and leadership that is so often demonstrated in McAllen. We are fortunate to have such wonderful people in McAllen. Janet Vacker. Janet is a warm and gracious person. Janet and her husband are outstanding leaders and have given and been a part of this community for a long time. Janet loves to tell the story of how she was teasing her dad about how nervous he looked on TV doing a commercial. Her dad asked her to join him on the next TV commercial and, from that moment on, a dynamic pair of father/daughter car commercials was born and they became TV legends in…

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Tori Heflin Got Married

Tori Heflin got married two weeks ago in a beautiful rustic setting outside Ft. Worth to Kaleb Allison. I have watched Tori grow up, through elementary school, high school, college and beyond and she always had a gentle spirit and softness for people. Her mom would tell you Tori was born that way. As Tori grew up, her faith came to play a huge role in her life. As she entered middle school and high school, she was never consumed by boys or having a boyfriend, like so many young girls experience in that time. She was focused on developing what she saw as her core strengths and her love for people and what God had planned for her. And I thought as she went off to college there would come along that special guy, and she would get married like so many of her friends, but it didn’t happen.…

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The Five Minds Theory

I recently came across a 1983 article by Howard Gardner, from Harvard Business School, in which he discusses his theory on the “five minds.” The idea goes that successful leaders have learned to develop these five minds over the course of their careers and their success is tied to these five key areas. I have shortened many of the concepts and I hope I can give you the essence of his theories. Here are Gardner’s Five Minds ideas: The Disciplined Mind. Leaders gain this “mind” through the practice of discipline and sustained effort. We gain experience by doggedly working on a project or idea that causes us to study and develop a deep understanding of processes, ideas or concepts. In other words, sustained experience counts for something The Synthesizing Mind. Leaders know how to survey a wide range of resources, information and data and can distill what is important and…

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The McAllen Phenomenon: Retail Still A Driving Factor

It’s no secret. The City of McAllen has built a name for itself in the retail sector, and as the epicenter of the Rio Grande Valley, business continues to thrive. Regionally, the Rio Grande Valley sees retail sales exceed $5 billion annually, with McAllen grossing over $3 billion of that. Featuring the premier shopping mall in the region, as well as a number of national-level chain retailers, a bevy of unique boutiques, and numerous shopping centers spread throughout the city, it’s no wonder McAllen has become an international destination. McAllen’s Ever Growing Retail Sector McAllen has been fortunate to weather many of the economic storms that have affected the nation while continuing to lead retail development along the border region. The city has seen an explosion of retail growth over the past few years and we continue to be blessed with numerous developments throughout the city including: One of McAllen’s…

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The Coming Impact of Driverless Cars

One major trend several futurists continue to talk about, and you also see car companies and technology companies focusing billions of dollars of resources and investment toward, is driverless cars. Some believe that, as early as next year, we will begin to see driverless cars in several key cities. The trend will start on a limited basis and grow each year from there as pricing continues to drop (Moore’s Law) and technology breakthroughs reduce costs. The first market that will be impacted by driverless cars will be the taxi industry. Uber’s and Lyft’s business models call for “high utilization” that creates efficiencies and profitability quickly. Here are some interesting facts and trends some “experts” are predicting will be happening by 2030: One self-driving car will replace 30 traditionally own cars. Driverless cars, because of utilization, will have a shorter life cycle (one year vs. 15 years today). Fleet owner and…

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Building Company Culture During The Holidays

There are plenty of benefits to be had by hosting a fabulous holiday party for your company. Aside from improving employee relationships, functioning as an incentive, and acting as a personal thanks to your employees, holiday parties also help to build your company culture. Forbes covered the importance of company culture earlier this year and argued that it is becoming even more relevant in the modern workplace. Developing a strong company culture through programs and events such as holiday parties can unify your team and enhance your business’s operations in a number of ways including: Improved retention: A strong company culture creates a sense of being, organization, and attraction. A positive company culture is much more likely to attract top talent and help you to retain these quality employees. Building your brand: Company culture goes a long way in helping your employees understand the values and identity you want customers…

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Five Stages to Real Change

How do you make changes in your life or in your work? Change is hard, for a variety of reasons. We often fall into routines or habits, without any thought as to why we do things a certain way or why we think a certain way. Our habits, many times, develop because it is the easy way to do things. It is human nature to take the easy path and there is nothing wrong with the easy path, until we need to change. Change becomes a challenge because we are breaking habits or routines on how we eat, exercise, think, or act. Psychologists tell us that there are stages that we go through in order to make changes in our lives. Here are the five stages of changes: Evaluation. Many people make the decision not to do anything because they feel they do not have enough information or the right…

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JIM DARLING – McALLEN’S MAYOR

Jim Darling has a passion for being Mayor of McAllen. Going through a peso devaluation and violence in Tamaulipas, as well as other issues, have kept the mayor on his toes. With an extensive background, from his psychology and law degrees, having passed the bar on his first try, to his 28 years as City Attorney and six years as City Commissioner, Mayor Jim Darling is well equipped to handle the goings on of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley. Darling was forthright about his time in office, the challenges, and the successes. “I think the last four years have been pretty interesting simply because I’m a border mayor,” he began. “Some of the rhetoric out of Washington has changed, creating diverse issues for us to deal with alongside our southern neighbors.” One issue, he said, was the federal government stating there was a border crisis when there was none.…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – BRENT BALDREE

“Brent Baldree, regional president of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas Regional Bank, grew up in the Texas Coastal Bend city of Portland. As the oldest child of a single dad, he learned early on about responsibility from helping at home and working at a young age. “Because my dad was a traveling salesman, I had a lot of responsibility early on,” Brent said. “I grew up quickly.” Still, through the steady teachings of his father, he developed a passion for hunting, fishing and sports. As a result of playing offensive guard at Gregory-Portland High School under the renowned coach Ray Akins, he believes he learned the meaning of teamwork and true grit. While striving towards earning his degree in business management at Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State, Brent worked in restaurants and on a farm. He firmly believes it was his early life with his dad, along with…

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HEALTHCARE PROFILE – DR. GUILLERMO SALINAS, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Dr. Jeremy Enslein started off the interview with a short and succinct statement. “Dr. Salinas is an amazing physician. I’m very lucky to have had him as my partner for the last 10 years.” Dr. Guillermo Salinas is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Interventional Cardiology by American Board of Internal Medicine. Salinas was born in Mexico City and raised in Baja. At an early age he knew he wanted to be a physician. “I used to play little doctor games and do surgery on my erasers,” Salinas said. Though he’s not positive it was his grandfather’s passing with a heart problem that led him to specialize in the heart, he does know he always had an interest in the heart. Going to medical school in Monterrey, Mexico, then the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and completing his rotation in the cardiology field confirmed his feelings.…

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