Author Archives: Gerry Garcia

Latest BBQ team to join Sizzling in the Tropics BBQ Competition

H-E-B and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce invite everyone to the “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Competition on Saturday, April 2 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. at the McAllen Chamber, 1200 Ash Ave. One of the latest teams to join in the fun is the “You Rub Me Long Time” Cooking Team headed up by Alma Vera.  Her team is ready for competition and they would like everyone to come out and sample the meat they prepare for the judges.  The cooking teams will be judged on the best Chicken, Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, Pan de Campo, and Beans.  There will also be awards for best showmanship and The public will judge the People’s Choice Award so come out and support your favorite team! Tickets to attend the event are $15.00 per person, which includes all-you-can-eat tasting from all 35 teams, drinks, a beverage garden, live entertainment…

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McAllen Chamber Innovation Grants – Changing Lives

McAllen Chamber of Commerce Innovation Grants is a program designed to encourage product innovation and venture creation in the McAllen trade area. Every year, the McAllen Chamber provides up to $50,000 in grant funding to McAllen innovators, allowing entrepreneurial pioneers to advance their groundbreaking ideas towards reality. Meet the grant winners whose ideas were the strongest, best presented and most potentially viable ideas. While most of the Valley population goes about its business working, sleeping and eating, there are individuals who delight in discovering new goods and services to offer the world – be it food, fun, or problem-solving ideas. McAllen Chamber Innovation Grants of 2015 highlight the variety offered. Be-live Deodorant Starting off the list is an all-natural deodorant. Alejandra Rabago was studying to become a Health Coach, which sent her searching for healthier options in eating and lifestyle habits. “I started paying more attention to my personal care…

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People You Should Know: Mike Hernandez, McAllen Parks & Recreation Director

Mike Hernandez was raised in the Valley and proud of it. Being part of a very large family is what ultimately brought Mike back to the Valley after he graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin. “I had found Mrs. Right and began asking myself questions,” Mike Hernandez, Director for the City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department, said. “What if we decide to have a family? I want our kids to have the kind of life I had. There’s no better life than growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, getting to enjoy the outdoors and small town life.” Moving back to the Valley, he began his work in the media/communications field as a photographer for Britton’s Photography in McAllen. Working a multitude of events, learning his craft, his expertise with people was evident to his clients, one of which was Sunglo Fellowship. He was hired by Sunglo Fellowship to…

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12 Questions with McAllen Chamber Board Member Brian Godinez

BRIAN GODINEZ, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER/PRINCIPAL, ERO A/E 1) What is your favorite book? I’d have to say To Kill A Mockingbird. 2) What is your favorite movie? To Kill A Mockingbird. It reminds me of growing up in Pharr, small town, just like the community in that movie. My father was an attorney; he was my Atticus. He had cases very similar, civil rights cases. It’s a perfect snapshot of my years that I can remember from the ages of 4 to 13. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? Huatulco. It’s a part of the Mexican Riviera on the Pacific side. Spring of 1996, that’s where I proposed to Leigh Ann. Everything I love to do we did – fish, golf, party, drink, dance. On top of that, I won a grito contest! 4) What is your life’s motto? Connected Communities. It’s what I do. It’s what I live…

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On January 29, City of McAllen & McAllen Chamber to host Open Carry Law Seminar

The City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will host a Texas Open Carry Law Seminar on Friday, January 29, at 8:30 a.m. at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Ave. in McAllen.   During the 84th Legislative Session, new legislation passed that will affect handgun licensing in the state of Texas, and since the law became effective on January 1, there have been many questions from the community regarding the new open carry laws, in particular the authority of a person who is licensed to carry a handgun to openly carry a holstered handgun. In response to these questions the City and the Chamber have organized this informative seminar for the business community and any interested citizens who wish to get answers to some of their questions. Topics that will be covered: The eight requirements to be eligible for open carry Four things that must be completed…

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Save the Date, April 2, for the “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Cook-off

Mark your calendars!  Join H-E-B and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce for the 5th annual “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Cook-off competition on Saturday, April 2, the McAllen Chamber. The event is designed to help the Chamber underwrite programs in the arts, innovation, small business development and education. Thirty cooking teams will be cooking up delicious Ribs, Brisket, Pulled Pork, Chicken, Beans, and Pan de Campo for everyone to enjoy. The teams will also compete in Showmanship and for the People’s Choice Award. Other event sponsors include The Monitor, L&F Distributors – Budweiser and AEP Texas.  Tickets to attend will cost $15.00 per person for a wristband that will allow attendees to sample from all 30 cooking teams, and also includes beverages and live entertainment.  Kids 10 and under eat free! For more information, please contact Gerry Garcia at the Chamber at 682-2871.

People You Should Know

Debi Chavez Debi Lou Modeling & Debi Lou Productions Debi Chavez, owner of Debi Lou Modeling and Debi Lou Productions, sat behind her desk gazing at walls covered in pictures of beautiful faces. Smiling back at her were the women, all of whom were students of one of her companies. Especially prominent was a face now known around the Valley, Texas, and the entire U.S. – Ylianna Guerra, first runner-up in the most recent Miss USA pageant. Guerra began her career at Debi Lou Modeling. Moving to Debi Lou Productions when she decided to go into the pageant world, Debi’s companies have had contestants place in the Top 15 and Top 5 respectively of Miss Texas USA and Miss Texas Teen USA pageants. Her first history-making winner in 2011 was Danielle Doty from Harlingen, who won both Miss Texas Teen USA and Miss Teen USA. “I’m very proud because it’s…

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Business You Should Know

CPR – Cellphone Repair Most Repairs Done While You Wait Don’t let the name fool you. Along with phones, CPR Cell Phone Repair also fixes most other technology – laptops, iPods, iPads, Mp3 players, tablets, GPS devices, game systems – and it also buys and sells phones. Ruben Peña and his son, Ruben Peña IV, wanted a business they could run together. Working with Cesar Cepeda, they opened a CPR franchise in Centennial Plaza on Highway 83. “It’s the biggest franchise for cell phone repair in the states, with over 200 stores nationwide,” Ruben III said.  “We were voted number one in cell phone repair by Entrepreneur magazine for this year.” Obtaining training in Florida added to son Ruben’s expertise with his Computer Science degree. “I love this work. I’ve always liked helping people out, and this business actually helps people with their devices,” son Ruben said. “Having a phone…

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Amistad Wholesale Foral & Crafts

Bringing Events Life! When planning an event, and you want it to be special, where do you start? Where do you go? Amistad Wholesale Floral and Crafts, of course. Marcelino and Francisca Garcia started the business out of their living room 39 years ago. When it got to the point that it was threatening to take over the entire house, they took a leap of faith and opened Floreria la Amistad Wholesale. “My father had worked for a wholesale floral company for eight years, doing every part of the business as the right hand man,” said Sylvia Cantu, manager and one of the two Garcia daughters working at Amistad. When customers began asking him to open his own business because they didn’t like the way the owner did business or how the employees were treated, he decided to do it.” We were a small business but he had faith in…

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Driscoll physician receives Distinguished Service Award from Texas Pediatric Society

Mary Dale Peterson, MD, MSHCA, FACHE, President and CEO of Driscoll Health Plan, has been awarded the 2015 Texas Pediatric Society’s Distinguished Service Award. The award, which was presented on October 3 at the Texas Pediatric Society annual luncheon in Sugar Land, recognizes a non-member pediatrician, non-pediatric physician, allied healthcare provider or a lay person who has gone beyond the norm in expressing their dedication and love of children. Dr. Peterson was recognized for her ideas, perseverance, advocacy and the respect she commands and wields in Austin for the benefit of the children of Texas.

New Head of Raba Kistner Environmental Announced

Raba Kistner has announced that Thomas Burr has joined Raba Kistner as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Raba Kistner Environmental (RKE). Thomas has 21 years of experience in the environmental field, including most recently with Chicago Bridge & Iron (CB&I), where he was Office Director and Environmental and Infrastructure Operations Manager. Thomas will be responsible for expanding the environmental department’s services and technical competencies; for management of their client base; for implementing best practices, methods and processes; for executing plans to expand into new service Iines, market sectors, and geographies; and for developing staff. “We look forward to Thomas’ guidance as we continue to grow with this important business group,” said William L. Raba, President of Raba Kistner, Inc. “His experience will help us expand our environmental services into new areas – particularly environmental permitting – and he will help greatly with staff development. We are all…

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Ray Wilkinson Iron & Metal, Inc.

“Above the Ground Miners” Aluminum, every kind of motor, iron, appliances, copper – the list goes on and on for these “above the ground miners.” “They used to call this type of business a junkyard. My grandfather Sheffield took tires and cow bones,” an enthusiastic Ray Wilkinson, owner, said. “Today, recycling is a big part of everybody’s life, trying to keep the environment clean. We recycle, make new things, and clean up the area.” Sheffield started the business in Laredo 80 years ago. Next, Ray’s father, Westbrook Chula, entered the family business after serving during WWII. Joining the firm, Ray and his two brothers made it a third-generation company. Starting their own yards – Ray in McAllen, Gary in Laredo and Jim in Brownsville – the brothers brought their sons into the fourth-generation business. When sons Bradley and Stuart joined the firm, Ray was ecstatic. Ray’s yard began in 1987.…

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Livability: McAllen, TX 2016 Now Available

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled Livability: McAllen, Texas 2016, a print and digital program that promotes the area to newcomers, visitors and relocating businesses.  Stories highlight McAllen’s quality of life, business climate, attractions, restaurants and must-do activities. Articles focus on the city’s mosaic standpipe public arts project, which is transforming the local landscape;  the Chamber’s establishment of TechPlace, a collaboration area for local tech-minded entrepreneurs; as well as the expansion of McAllen-Miller International Airport. Other articles highlight the quality-of-place amenities that attract people to McAllen, including an innovative public school system, an expansive health care scene and an attractive business climate. Find more great content about McAllen on, a national website with information about more than 15,000 of America’s best places to live and visit. The website includes articles and photo galleries, maps, videos and demographic information. For a free digital version of the magazine optimized for iPads, tablets and other…

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People You Should Know – Rosy Villarreal

Tres Dimensiones Ropa Usada, Inc. A confident Rosy Villarreal walked around the corner, dressed to the hilt, striding easily in four inch high heels, the hard concrete warehouse no match for this strong woman. Raised in a foster home in Mante, Tamaulipas, Mexico, she was the oldest of seven siblings. Becoming emotional when asked if she had been a fashionista all her life, Rosy described the one dress she had had and the harsh conditions in which she was raised. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the little girl didn’t let life’s roadblocks stop her. The woman sitting behind the desk was completely in charge of her empire of clothes, clothes and, yes, clothes. “When I was 17, I started working for another used clothing company, gained experience for 14 years and decided to open my own business with a partner,” Rosy said of her 27 year-old business. Named Tres…

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For Those Going the Extra Mile Debi Maqueda Customer Service Awards Committee Chairman Singing to the customers is one of the joys for Consuelo, a waitress at Ponchos. One day Consuelo happened to be waiting on Marty Charles, Chamber Ambassador, and her mom who thought she was headed to the hospital because of the way she felt. All three were to learn a big lesson – never underestimate the power of a caring smile and touch. “Cheering up Marty’s mother with a song, patting her on the back and telling her she was going to be ok made all the difference to her mom,” said Debi Maqueda, Ambassador who heads up the new Customer Service Awards committee. “Marty’s mom walked out of there feeling refreshed and like a million dollars!” Knowing full well there are many more people doing their jobs, taking that extra step, lending an extra hand, in…

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