Category Archives: Chamber News

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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Johnny Rodriguez loves what he does. “I think I have the greatest job in the world representing Bert Ogden alongside my Dynamic Duo partner, Augie Lozano. I love being an extension of Janet and Bob Vackar. I feel humble they entrust me with representing Bert Ogden and the 17 dealerships.” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez found his way into public relations along a circuitous route. “I was in the staffing agency business for over 25 years,” Rodriguez said. “I think I was involved with every single chamber in the Valley from Brownsville to McAllen. Being part of the McAllen Ambassador program is one of the biggest tools any organization can have. We meet many individuals who become life-long friends!” Raising Simbrah Cattle on their KJ Cattle Company ranch is a source of pride and joy for him and son John Paul, with many grand champions among their home grown bulls. Add fishing…

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Fishing and sports, German Shepherds/Belgian Malinois and a love of marketing all make up a part of Jennifer Vasquez, McAllen Chamber Ambassador. Jennifer has been the Marketing Manager for BlueWave Express over three years, ever since the company opened in the Valley. A Mass Communications with PR and Advertising graduate from The University of Texas Pan American, Jennifer makes good use of her time as an Ambassador. “I want to get BlueWave Express more involved with the community,” the, co-chair of the Ambassadors said. “It’s been a great opportunity to spread the word about the company and to educate the area about our services, including our three-minute wash, free vacuums and memberships.” BlueWave Express has five Rio Grande Valley locations, with two more opening soon and eight more locations in Houston. Among Jennifer’s hobbies are fishing and enjoying being with her family, which currently includes 12 dogs (6 puppies) of…

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Every year the Chamber’s Top 5 Small Businesses Committee selects five small businesses out of those entered to represent the small business community of McAllen. The five named businesses for 2016 are Alberico Fine Wine, McAllen Country Club, Mail-Pak Your Box Store, Texas Border Business/MegaDoctor News and The Dry Room. “Winning this award is a confirmation to my staff that over these past years their work has been recognized as quality,” said Rick Ramos, owner, Alberico Fine Wine. “There are so many small, successful businesses that have been around for such a long time. This is a humbling experience.” Ramos’s dream of owning his own restaurant became a reality over five years ago when he decided to open a new concept, offering wine at retail prices with meals. Celebrated for excellent cuisine, Alberico Fine Wine has put top emphasis in food quality and customer service. Pro-active in giving back to…

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    1) What is your favorite book? Dinesh d’Souza is my favorite author. Right now, one of the books I’m currently enjoying is Stealing America. I like autobiographical books mainly.   2) What is your favorite movie? I’m a big Star Wars fan so the entire Star Wars series. I like the villains so I do like the Darth Vader characters, the scythes. I would say, however, that out of them all Han Solo might be my favorite.   3) What was your favorite vacation spot? I like the beach but it gets a little old. I like places which have activity like New Orleans and Las Vegas.   4) What is your life’s motto? Don’t sweat the small stuff!   5) Where were you born? McAllen, TX. I’m a true blue local, born in the old downtown hospital.   6) What was a life changing event in your…

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McAllen ISD IB Programme students’ space experiment ready for liftoff

A project by McAllen Independent School District students will be launched into space next week. It’s one of only 21 selected from across the entire North American continent.  Three students Sabrina Benitez, Sofia Escobar and Juan Pablo Flanagan from McAllen ISD’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Lamar Academy conceptualized and produced a scientific proposal that will achieve realization on the International Space Station hovering above the Earth. The scheduled launch date currently scheduled for 9:01 a.m. CT on Saturday, February 18 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The results will be shipped back to Earth in March. Students will conduct the same experiment on Earth (under gravity conditions) during the month while it is conducted in space. The results will be compared. Progress on the ISS can be monitored on the SSEP website. They wanted to know if you can grow tomatoes on Mars.  A mountain of research over six weeks…

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12 Questions with board member Art Ortega, Ortega Ventures & Investments


1) What is your favorite book? I would have to say my favorite book is the Bible. It provides guidance for any and all situations whether good, bad or indifferent. In good times you can find inspiration, in bad times you can find hope, and in times of tranquility you get a sense of responsibility of what you could do to make this world better. 2) What is your favorite movie? There are several, but I would say the animated movie, Madagascar. My three kids and I laughed so hard and I guess that’s why I liked it so much. It brings the family together and it gives you a moment of bonding. The movie has a moral, but more than anything it is the companionship and the bonding with the kids you’ll always remember. 3) What is your favorite vacation spot? We went to Honolulu and then to Maui.…

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People You Should Know – Joe Brown, Director of Development Rio Grande Valley Community Foundation


  Joe Brown is wearing a new hat. Known throughout the area for his years of banking experience, moving into the retirement arena just didn’t quite fit him. Becoming Director of Development for the Rio Grande Valley Community Foundation fit him to a tee. Using his formidable background, it will be an easy switch for him to continue guiding the works of the foundation. In 2000, Steve Ahlenius suggested the area needed a community foundation, and he was the force behind getting it developed into a 501(c)(3). It is a separate entity from the Chamber. Community foundations have been around since 1914, when banker  Frederick Goff convinced the Cleveland Trust board to adopt a Resolution and Declaration of Trust creating the Cleveland Foundation – the first community foundation. Organized to provide philanthropic options for individuals, businesses and organizations, community foundations aid them in intelligent giving and assisting the givers to…

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