Author Archives: Athena Garcia

The Workforce in the 21st Century (Part I)

The pandemic has accelerated changes in the workforce that will have far-reaching implications for businesses, the workforce, and all people. It is hard to prepare for jobs that do not exist today and to understand what critical skills and qualifications will enable people to find jobs and opportunities in the future. As robotics, Artificial Intelli-gence (AI), and automation become more and more present in the workplace, what skills do people need to compete for jobs? There is a split occurring in the workplace. There will continue to be a demand for physical skills in logistics, transportation, warehousing, and distribution. There will also be a demand for technological skills, social skills, and higher-level cognitive skills in the emerging workforce. As more automation and digitalization occur in the workplace, people will need foundational skills. Three essential criteria include: • Added value beyond what AI or automated machines can do • Operating in…

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MAN & WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2020 – CHIEF VICTOR RODRIGUEZ AND SALLY FRAUSTRO-GUERRA

Chief Victor Rodriguez and Sally Fraustro-Guerra Being selected as Man or Woman of the Year for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is no easy task. First, the Chamber President/CEO Steve Ahlenius forms the Man & Woman of the Year committee. An article in The Monitor runs requesting nominations from the community several times and the requests for nominations are publicized on the Chamber website. Once they are received, the committee reviews the applicants and painstakingly makes the difficult decision. This year, as usual, two extraordinary individuals have been selected to receive these prestigious awards. Man of the Year McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez was arriving home when he received the call from Steve Ahlenius telling him of his award. “It was very humbling,” Rodriguez said. “I sat in the garage for about 15 minutes considering what it meant.” As he thought about it, he added, “I believe it is a…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – MAYOR JAVIER VILLALOBOS, CITY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 1 TONY AGUIRRE , CITY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 6 PEPE CABEZA DE VACA

What to expect from our newly elected Mayor and City Commissioners. Three newly elected officials have taken their positions for the first time. What can we expect from them? Let’s take a look. McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos Mayor Villalobos, with 23 years experience working as City Attorney for small cities, decided to run for mayor when Mayor Jim Darling announced his retirement. “I knew what to expect and what to do, so I feel comfortable after serving as City Commissioner for District 1,” Villalobos said. With a long agenda of priorities he would like to accomplish, he has jumped in feet first. “The city will work on keeping taxes low, a high priority for many of our citizens, though we have no control over how the appraisal district assesses property.” Anxious to rejuvenate the downtown area, Villalobos will propose an increase in the budget for the downtown area and be…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – BELLA MIA ITALIAN AND AMERICAN CUISINE

Chef Juan and his wife Maria M. Martinez Guarcas How could a little six-year-old boy know his dreams could come true as he slept on a dirt floor in his Guatemalan home? Meeting Chef Juan Guarcas, co-owner and chef of Bella Mia Italian & American Cuisine Restaurant, you understand how this determined, talented Mayan used his culinary gifts and firm resolve to bring his vision to life. When his mother left for a month, Chef Juan told his four brothers and sister, “We have to survive. We have to make our food.” After the first try with a chicken and veggies flopped, he told his dad he could fix it, and he did. He had no idea where that instinct came from, but it shaped his life.   While growing up, Chef Juan experienced his father spend the family’s money on drinking instead of purchasing food, so he was determined…

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SUCCESS FROM EVERYBODY SIMPLY DOING THEIR JOB – MIKE’S PLUMBING & ELECTRICAL, INC.

Mike Losoya, Jr., General Manager/Owner As a youngster, Mike Losoya, Jr., Owner/General Manager of Mike’s Plumbing & Electrical, Inc., was fascinated with all manner of electronics. “I always had a thing for opening electronic devices, either to make them work again or just to learn about what was inside them,” he said. When he reached high school, he had to choose between electronics or going into the electrical shop class. “I chose the electrical class because it was more of a trade to get into,” he said. “My family had taught us to find something to make a living with, something to support us. I took the class for two years and found I was good at it, and I liked it. I also liked to compete.” Mike won an interschool electrical competition in south Rio Grande Valley which catapulted him to the regional competition in Dallas. There was a…

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KOKO’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT TEAMS UP WITH H-E-B

Albert, Jr. & Jorge Suarez Co-owners The pandemic hit hard and fast, and restaurants everywhere took a deep, scary dive into territory unknown. Local restaurants struggled to find fresh ideas to continue serving their customers. A true Texans helping Texans company, H-E-B, launched a new program to support restaurants around this great state. Two McAllen restaurants, Koko’s Mexican Restaurant and Salt-New American Table were invited to supply meals from their menus and bring their food fares to various H-E-B stores around the Valley. “We had the opportunity to put eleven plates in H-E-B, fully cooked and microwavable,” said Albert Suarez, Jr., co-owner of Koko’s Mexican Restaurant. “After that program ended, we continued to partner with H-E-B and opened a state-inspected manufacturing plant.” Keeping the operation, a family affair, both Albert and Jorge’s daughters run the plant. It started in seven H-E-B stores, and are currently in 20 stores from Laredo…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – TIJERINA LEGAL GROUP, P.C.

Humberto Tijerina, III Chief Visionary Officer Ever since he was young, Humberto Tijerina, III, Chief Visionary Officer of Tijerina Legal Group PC, his path clearly laid out in front of him. He would be a fighter for the underdog. “I always had an affinity for making sure if somebody was bullied, I would either put a stop to it or help that person not get bullied again,” Tijerina said. Law seemed a natural fit for this man who was always so willing to fight for justice. Choosing the scholarship to Southern Methodist University (SMU) over one to the University of Houston, Tijerina earned his law degree and then began practicing business/corporate law. He first worked for a firm in San Antonio but felt limited with only reading and modifying contracts and with drafting agreements between companies. He missed the people aspect of law. When a friend called and suggested they…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – MARTHA GARZA

Martha Garza Owner, Breadsmith After purchasing Breadsmith a few years ago, Martha Garza decided she wanted to get more involved with the community. “I wanted to expand the business and let people learn about us,” Garza said. “Since we are in the bread business, we wanted to help the community have fresh bread every day.” Becoming an Ambassador was her doorway. “I love it. Going to the events gives me the chance to tell people about our business. I love when they ask me to help. I truly feel it’s them helping me get the word out about Breadsmith.” She believes businesses who join the Chamber need to reach out and become active in chamber events. “We always get to meet new people and as a business owner that’s what we’re really about – meeting people and telling them about our business.” Proud of the fact that nothing goes to…

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A TRANSPORT EMPIRE BUILT ON INTEGRITY – Parker & Company

Frank Parker, Jr. President / CEO   As you drive down the road, have you ever looked at your dashboard and wondered how all its parts came together? Have you ever noticed a cargo container of Mission Wonderful Citrus orange juice trucking on down the road and wondered where in the world it was going? (Check toward the end for the answer.) Have you ever gotten in a convoy with a line of trucks and wondered who figured out how all this stuff was getting moved from point A to point B? One company that has been in the transportation business for 36 years is Parker & Company led by its President/CEO, Frank Parker, Jr. “I’m a third generation Brownsville, Texas, resident,” Parker said. “My dad worked in the ship loading and unloading business at the port. I grew up around the port and understood the international trade early.” After…

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13 QUESTIONS WITH MCALLEN CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER – HERSHAL PATEL

Hershal Patel Co-owner Perspective Hospitality Management Services   1) What is your favorite book? Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a book about a fugitive from New Zealand/Australia who ends up in India. The way he describes Bombay reformed the way I see India.  2) What is your favorite movie? Hands down, the 007 series.  The one on the top of my list is From Russia with Love. The reason I like the series is because each movie was a guide to the time in which the movie was made. Another reason is one of my favorite cities in the world is Istanbul and a good part of that movie takes place in Istanbul.  3) What was your favorite vacation spot? The greatest place I’ve been to is Istanbul. At the time we went, it was just before some of the civil unrest there but you would never have known.  4)…

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McALLEN CHAMBER WINS KALIFF MARKETING AWARDS FROM THE TFEA ASSOCIATION

The Texas Festivals and Events Association (TFEA) held the Kaliff Marketing Awards competition this past summer.  The competition recognizes and encourages excellence in festival promotional campaigns. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce entered several categories in the competition to celebrate the success of McAllen’s newest festival MXLAN 2019. The McAllen Chamber and PolluxCastor, the event’s Creative Advertising & Production Company, teamed up to host the event at the McAllen Convention Center. MXLAN is a 5-day event where traditions rarely seen outside the interior of Mexico happen alongside modern artists and revelers honoring their cultural roots. The festival, which included a Mexican arts & crafts mercado, food from Mexico and the Valley, a Mezcal & Tequila event, a Neon Nights 5-k Run, live concerts with music from local and up-and-coming talented musicians, and a dance troupe leading a Calenda-style parade from La Guelaguetza (an indigenous ceremonial celebration that happens once a year…

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WE RUN UNTIL WE GET IT DONE! – CYTECH HEATING & COOLING, L.C.

“Comfort, Quality, and Value . . . Every Time!” Dusty & Gail Cyphers, Co-owners Snow! After 100 years, snow fell in the Valley in 2004 and heaters were having problems all. When we wondered, “Who’re we going to call?” the answer was simply, “Why, Cytech Heating & Cooling, L.C., of course.” “It was probably the coolest thing our team has done,” began Dusty Cyphers, co-owner of Cytech Heating & Cooling, L.C. “It was Christmas Eve, and everybody was cold. We ended up running calls until about one o’clock Christmas morning. Everyone pulled their weight. I did not lose one person. Everybody who called in with a problem was taken care of.” Both Dusty and Gail grew up in the Houston area, even attending the same high school for six months without really noticing each other. During her senior year a mutual friend introduced them, love blossomed, and they were married…

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13 QUESTIONS WITH MCALLEN CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER – FRANCISCO PAEZ

Co-owner, Kumori & Mori 1) What is your favorite book? The DaVinci Code. It involves a lot of things I’m familiar with through my study of history and religion. I found it very interesting. 2) What is your favorite movie? My favorite movies are Braveheart and The Notebook. I love the action in Braveheart and the storyline. The Notebook is a wonderful story of a couple in love, what they went through, and how they end up together. That emotion is incredible when you find your loved one and stay together your whole life with all the things you go through. At the end of their life, they even died in the same bed together. What else could you ask for in a relationship? 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? That would be Italy because the culture is so unique. You can walk through the whole city enjoying the…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADORS – ANGIE & KARL KAISER

Co-Owners, On Guard Sanitation & Valley Draft Services What does a severely dyslexic high school dropout do with his life? He uses his skills of engineering and vision to design some of the most intricate draft beer systems in the United States. Along the way, Karl Kaiser, co-owner of On Guard Sanitation & Valley Draft Services married a smart beauty, Angie, who gladly took on the responsibilities of co-owning the business, and they traveled the country installing draft beer systems. That is, until they came to McAllen. Here they found a place they were needed – no draft beer system service company here – and decided to settle down. Then they found the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and they found a family. Becoming Ambassadors, they felt at home. “We joined to network and meet people,” said Kaiser. “I like feeding off the other Ambassadors’ knowledge. We enjoy seeing people’s businesses…

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SERVICING THE CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY OF THE VALLEY – STARR HOME HEALTH AGENCY

Mario Luis Guerra, Sr. Mario Luis Guerra Jr. Co-Owners     Do you remember what it was that made you take that right path rather than the left path in your life, the one that changed your course? For Mario L. Guerra, Jr., co-owner of Starr Home Health Agency, that time would have been the early 90s while he was a business major in college. “My mom, a registered nurse, was working for a home health care agency when the industry was barely getting started,” Guerra said. “There were only two or three large agencies in the area at the time. We got together and asked ourselves the question: Why don’t we take a crack at this?” After graduation he returned to the Valley, and by July of 1993 the business was up and running. Now over 27 years old, it has always been a family-owned business. Guerra even met…

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