Category Archives: Chamber News

PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – ALBERT & JORGE SUAREZ

Albert & Jorge Suarez, Co-owners Koko’s Mexican Restaurant   Love sometimes leads people to do things that surprise all those around them. Take the story of Albert and Jorge Suarez, co-owners, Koko’s Mexican Restaurant on north 10th Street.  At 49 years of age, Carmen Mery Suarez, the beloved mother and wife of the Suarez family was gone. Though she and her husband, Alberto Z. Suarez, had a clothing store, her dream had always been to follow in her brother’s footsteps and open a restaurant. Jorge had worked in his uncle’s restaurant, and found he had a talent cooking. “A few months after my mom died I  went to Jorge and said, ‘Let’s open a restaurant. I’ll be the waiter and you be the cook,’” Albert said. “I was 21 and he was 18. We started out with 10 tables in downtown McAllen.”  Expanding to 28 tables across the street, then…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADORS – JERRY & SANDIE TREVIÑO

Jerry & Sandie Treviño VomFASS Owners   If anyone is the least bit a foodie, VomFASS is the place to go. With a European ambiance and good old-fashioned Texas hospitality, this gem of a store in the Palms Crossing shopping center by the Convention Center, co-owned by Jerry and Sandie Treviño, allows taste-testing of its one-of-a-kind products – special vinegars, oils, wines and liquors.  Leaving the corporate world behind with 33-years in insurance for Jerry and 30 years as a Security First Credit Union officer for Sandie, these foodies found VomFASS on their honeymoon in San Francisco, and returned on every visit to the Bay area. “I wasn’t even thinking of anything in particular after one especially hard day at work when I came home and told Sandie I was ready for something different,” Jerry began. “Before I knew it, she was on the phone checking out the opportunity to…

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Four Types of Goals

Goal setting can be a challenge for some people. I try to understand their hesitation in setting goals. There may be a wide variety of reasons why they don’t like setting goals. They may think of goals as being too restrictive or they don’t like the accountability. A person may feel goal setting is a set-up for failure and eventual firing. A person may have been given an impossible goal and none of the resources to attain the goal. Whatever the reason, not setting goals is a recipe for not getting anything done. I love goals. I love trying to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. One of the key elements of a successful leader and business person is a willingness to set the “mark” and work towards achieving it. Clearly stated goals bring focus but keep in mind there are different types of goals. Exciting goals An exciting goal…

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Tourism Disruptors & 4 Key Cornerstones

Disruption is happening all around us. The business models that worked in the past are failing. Just take a quick look at what is happening in retail, transportation, healthcare, and community involvement. These are only a few of the areas experiencing disruptions. A key area of disruption that we are experiencing in McAllen is in the tourism industry and how it is marketed and consumed. The disruptions in tourism are challenging the old business models we have built. Ask any hotel operator in McAllen about how different the market is today than just five years ago and a person will get a “hearty” agreement about how challenging the market is now. Disruptors are impacting how we are operating, as well as how we should be operating and adapting to the new opportunities. Here are just some of the key elements of the disruptors: Speed of change and disruptions; increasing isolationism…

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How Small and Nimble Businesses Are Beating the Big Corporations

During the Industrial Revolution, one key concept that developed was the idea of “scale.” Scale allowed companies to reach maximum efficiency in production, distribution, and profits. It also leads to the concept that “bigger was better.” This idea that “bigger was better” continues to play out in the strategies of many large corporations in today’s market space. The idea has worked well for the last 130 years. “Bigger” gave corporations advantages that small businesses could not get, but now things are turning in favor of small and nimble businesses. Three key trends that have been identified in Hemant Taneja’s and Kevin Maney’s book, Unscaled, and which are changing the business landscape are (1) The emergence of platforms; (2) Technologies that can be rented; and (3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing mass production. These three elements are letting small businesses compete against big corporations. The critical factor for success is the relentless…

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MCALLEN ENTHUSIAST: LOCAL BLOGGER’S NINE TO FIVE GUY POSTS PROMOTE CITY IN UNIQUE WAY

Promoting the city and a healthy lifestyle seems to come naturally for local blogger Robert Lopez. The McAllen native is becoming known throughout the area for his Nine to Five Guy blog but has also worked for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce for six years with the Convention & Visitors Bureau division where he is the director of sales and sports tourism. “My job is to bring conferences or conventions or sports tournaments that will bring visitors from out of the area to McAllen,” Lopez said. “So that they sleep in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores; that will generate an economic impact with money coming outside the valley inject into our community.” Some of the sporting events that have been attracted to McAllen were Games of Texas and more recently the Texas Youth Football Association Spring Bowl that was held at the McAllen Sports…

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FULLY PROMOTED – HELPING BUSINESSES GROW

Hector Leal and son Miguel are helping McAllen and the Valley be Fully Promoted.   EmbroidMe has changed its name to Fully Promoted. Do you know why? It’s actually pretty simple. “The primary reason we changed our name is because people still think we just do embroidery,” manager Miguel Leal said.  Joining the four-year old EmbroidMe franchise in 2004, the McAllen branch became a family affair for Hector Leal and two of his three sons. Today, it’s Hector and son Miguel who carry on the family business and bring Hector’s dream of coming to America to become a success a reality. Hector brought his family to the Valley in 1997 with one goal – to own his own business. Working in sales and management for a local company, Hector found an opportunity to open an EmbroidMe franchise in the Valley, and began following his plan of action. “I remember it like it was…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – VALLEY RETINA INSTITUTE, PA

Caring for others’ vision is the passion of Dr. Victor H. Gonzalez, Valley Retina Institute, PA, Valley Retina Research. Actually, Dr. Gonzalez first dreamed of being a neurosurgeon and operating under a microscope, but he found he missed the patient/doctor relationship.  “When I rotated to ophthalmology, retina surgery was the closest thing to neurosurgery,” Gonzalez said. “You’re operating under a microscope, and since the retina is an extension of the brain, in a sense it is neurosurgery. I love it, and I like being able to follow the patients through their recoveries and establish relationships with them.” After Harvard Medical School, Gonzalez completed his retina fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and then spent time at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. A casual remark to him by a diabetic nurse triggered his life’s passion to work with children and diabetics. “The nurse had told me she practiced putting…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – GILBERT GALLEGOS

Gilbert Gallegos Senior Vice President, Broaddus & Associates   Broaddus & Associates senior vice president Gilbert Gallegos, an architect, started his career in the private sector. It wasn’t long before he realized he wanted to do more, and entered the public world. He began working for UT Austin, which led to his career with the UT System. “They wanted an individual to manage projects with the 1993 South Texas Border Initiative for providing higher education access,” Gallegos explained. “I began managing all the design and construction for UT System south of Austin. When I first came down to McAllen with Broaddus 17 years ago, it was like a mission. My passion was to be involved in helping under-served areas so people could experience unique environments to enhance the learning, functional, and perceptive quality for all.” With five employees in the McAllen office, the 18-year-old company based out of Austin leads its…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – CHRIS SALAZAR

Chris Salazar, World Financial Group The definitive word describing Chris Salazar, associate, World Financial Group, is entrepreneur; but then, business wizard, risk taker, or visionary could also fit. Having worked for a national publishing company in Houston, Salazar decided to return  home to the Valley. He launched The Blue Book, a medical directory, as well as a healthcare policy magazine called DOCTalk with nationwide readership. Battling two bouts of non-Hodgkin lymphoma brought Chris to his knees, so the workaholic made a drastic change, taking time off to discover the joy of living. “When I discovered World Financial Group I fell in love with its mission.” Salazar grinned. “People in serious financial trouble come, and I teach them how to get out of trouble. I love doing that. Without making a single sale, I can change their lives through financial literacy education.” Chris takes being an Ambassador seriously. “I think being…

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A Four-Month-Old Lab and Re-Learning Lessons

This past March, I did something my wife probably wishes some days I would have skipped, and I got another Labrador puppy (the dog was a gift from Jeanette and the Chamber staff). This is my third Labrador dog, and I tell you, each one is different just like kids can be so different. I had forgotten about the puppy stage, and for Labs, it is about two years. Lab puppies require constant attention because they will get into anything and everything, and Zoey had done exactly that these past three months. One of the new things I have started doing since getting Zoey is walking her every morning, which she loves. But it has also meant that I have given up my morning workouts. Still, Zoey is excited every morning to see what new things she will see or smell. The funny thing is we take the same route…

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Celebrating a Major Milestone With WiFi Stand

1 2 3 4 5 The road to success is paved with milestones, and local company, Wi-Fi Stand, just passed a major one – 100K in sales Established in 2016, Wi-Fi Stand has grown into a wireless industry juggernaut, working with dozens of Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as Facebook, Verizon, Netflix, Live Nation, Google, Ticketmaster, and many other of the largest names in the tech industry. The journey to create Wi-Fi Stand began at a Las Vegas conference but would eventually find its grounding in the Innovation Programs developed by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Wi-Fi Stand developers, Drew Lentz and Eric Slosberg, would come to participate in the Chamber’s robust programs, progressing through the I&E Network Meetings,  IdeaPlace initiative, and Innovation Grant competition. It was by using these resources made available through the Chamber that the duo was able to take their idea from a napkin drawing…

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The Day The Oregon Highway Dept Blew Up a Whale

https://youtu.be/y6lTSxJvR4w In Florence, Oregon, on November 9, 1970, the Oregon Highway Department was tasked with removing a 45-foot, eight-ton sperm whale that had washed ashore and become a public nuisance because of the smell of decay. The job of removing the dead whale fell to highway engineer, George Thornton, who along with his team and in consultation with the Navy, decided the best way to remove the whale was to blow it up and have the remaining pieces be eaten by seagulls, crabs, and other scavenging animals. Somehow, in the highway department’s calculations, it was determined that a half-ton ton of dynamite would be sufficient to blow up the whale into bite-size pieces. An Army expert with explosive training was at the beach that day and warned Thornton that too much dynamite was being used to do the job. Still, the half-ton of dynamite was buried under the decaying whale…

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5 Things Never To Put in Writing

I always cringe when I see certain comments in an e-mail, text or any other form of writing that says something I know the “sender” is going to regret having written or sent. “Offensive comments are like butter; they cannot be un-spread.” Caution is the best advice, or as the robot in Lost in Space in the 1960s TV show would say, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” I have seen several careers get off track because of comments that were made or comments that were made several years ago re-surfacing and causing problems. The easiest solution is never to put yourself in the position of having written something controversial or offensive. My email responses are always short and to the point. If I need to expand on something, it is easier to pick up the phone and have a conversation than try to convey my thoughts in an email or text.…

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