Category Archives: Chamber News

Five Starting Points for Small Businesses

Managing a small business in tough economic times calls for a wide variety of skills. To be a successful small business, you are going to need to tap into many skills sets that include lean thinking, strategic and tactical planning, negotiations, marketing, legal, social and intellectual skills. The good small business person does a lot of things to be successful. Here is how to start: Cut costs. Start with running lean. If you have put off looking at costs until today, now is the time to act. Start with recurring costs, utilities, services, and fees that you have every month. Find ways to reduce your monthly expenditures. Negotiate. Negotiate hard when you are looking at new expenses. Compare prices, look at other offers, and talk to industry friends and do research on the Internet. Become well informed before you make a deal. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a…

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INDUSTRY LEADERS COMMITTED TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE – HEALTH CARE UNLIMITED, INC.

Joe Ramon III, always knew he wanted to be in business at some point in his life, but first he decided to follow his love of health care. “I wanted to be a dentist, and decided to become a pharmacist before dental school in case I didn’t like dentistry.” Ramon said. As it happened, Ramon fell in love with the pharmaceutical world and chose to follow that path. Ironically, as much as he loved being a pharmacist, he found the retail side was not his niche. After his first day on the job as a licensed pharmacist in a drugstore in San Antonio, having stared down the 50 bottles waiting to be filled to customers’ cries of, “Where’s my medicine?,” he called his dad. “What did I do, Dad? I don’t like this!” he remembered asking. Ramon persevered, however, believing he could be a good pharmacist. For three years he…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – DUSTY DAVENPORT, DAVENPORT & ASSOCIATES

Banking was Dusty Davenport’s first choice before he made the decision to join his dad, Rip’s insurance agency. “I had been in banking, but wanted a faster growing career,” Dusty recalled. “I discovered insurance was an industry where you could work hard and forge ahead.” Not only did he plunge into the depths of it, he formed his own niche. “Our agency started off as a life insurance agency, but as time went on people kept asking my dad for help in employee related activities. We have gone from 80 percent life insurance to 80 percent employee benefits,” he said. Purchasing the agency in 2016, Dusty has become an expert in employee benefit areas such as medical, dental, vision, and life insurance as well as 401ks. “You have to stay on it every day,” Dusty explained. “I’m always receiving updates on a new regulation, or a new law that was…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – LETTY DURAN

Letty Duran Personal Banker Greater State Bank Letty Duran feels the two words which best describe her ideal life are love and service. Family is one of her top priorities, and helping rear her niece, she knows what giving and service entail. Proof of her dedication to her family shows as she gave the ultimate – a part of herself. Elated to be a perfect match, she donated a kidney to her sister in April. A people person, Letty has been in the banking business most of 25 years. “I started with First City and now work as a Personal Banker with Greater State Bank,” she said. “I like working with people. Within three days of working at Walmart, my first job, I was put in Customer Service, and I’ve been in the service end of business ever since. Today I consider Greater State Bank my ‘other’ family.” The Treasurer…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – MARK MAGNON

Mark Magnon Vice-President Commercial/International Lending, IBC Bank Cheerful, energetic and enthusiastic about life, Mark Magnon, Vice-President of Commercial/International Lending at IBC Bank, shared one of his favorite things. “Though I’m proud of my upbringing in Laredo, I love being transplanted in McAllen for over 20 years now,” he said. After graduating with a Business Administration degree from St. Edwards University in Austin in the early 90s, Magnon was ready to join the banking business with his dad. “No, no, no, no,” exclaimed Dad. “NAFTA’s going to be big. Get a job in trucking logistics.” Following his father’s guidance, Magnon entered the trucking world, which led him to Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Argentina and São Paulo, Brazil, before coming to the Valley. “I had developed a relationship with Mr. David Guerra, so when I was ready for a change, I joined IBC Bank. I’d rather be on the banking side where…

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The ROPE Method for Terminating Employment

Hiring and firing an employee are the two toughest things an employer will do. Hiring and getting the right skill set and personality to fit within an organization is a huge challenge. Many times, when an employee doesn’t work out, it is because the business failed in finding the right fit for the organization. When the situation is no longer a fit, terminating an employee can be just as hard. No matter how carefully you plan, interview, and test, some people just don’t fit. So how do you know when it is time to consider letting someone go? I use the ROPE method to determine if a change is needed. Here are the four key ideas behind ROPE: R = Relationships. In today’s workplace, relationships play a vital role in the success of an individual and the business. On occasion, you will get an employee who has terrible working relationships…

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McAllen Businesses: 100 Years of Success & 100 More Years to Come

The story of McAllen goes back more than 110 years. From a dusty little border town to the international metropolitan destination that it has become today, the history of our city not only offers us a glimpse into our past but reveals the perseverance that has made our community great. It is a perseverance and tenacity embodied by founding city leaders and early business owners. The future of McAllen’s continued growth and economic success is inextricably tied into our past. The businesses that have weathered the many real and metaphorical storms the region has seen tell us a great deal about the character of the city and about those who have helped McAllen grow into a regional leader. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor the following businesses that have exemplified McAllen’s entrepreneurial spirit over the last 100 years. A Quick Note Your McAllen Chamber staff is honored…

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Mayor Jim Darling and The Stairs

There are several things I have learned while working with Mayor Jim Darling. First, he is high energy, and his kinetic engagement is high, which means things are going to move fast. Second, he is always trying to find solutions and ways to get to “Yes.” As an attorney, his approach has always been to find a way to get to “Yes,” as opposed to many attorneys who tell you “No” because it is easier and the safest way to avoid challenges. Third, you better be ready to talk about several different things in one conversation. Mayor Darling is quick and agile in his thought processes, so it is best to be ready to handle lots of different ideas. Finally, I have learned not to stand next to the mayor if you are close to stairs. He is a health enthusiast that believes motion and movement are the best things…

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The Three E’s of the 21st Century

I have been reading, with much interest, the prognosticators’ views and ideas that the United States is in a state of decline. They say the economic engine that has driven the U.S. economy and the world’s economy is in decline and that the “new normal” will be stagnant growth and lost job opportunities. They say the high unemployment that the United States is experiencing will be around for a long time and that our national debt will force dramatic cuts in federal spending and programs. I don’t see it. The economy is changing and there is a shift occurring in economic opportunities, but this has happened before in our history and it will happen again. We may not like what is happening and we may feel threatened by it, but it is happening regardless of our resistance. In the book, The Age of the Unthinkable, by Joshua Cooper Ramo, the…

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VTX1 Companies Acquires Ranch Wireless, Inc.

The acquisition will extend VTX1’s service area by 17,000 square miles.  VTX1 Companies today announced its acquisition of Ranch Wireless, Inc. based in Seguin, TX. Ranch Wireless, established in 1998, is a provider of fixed wireless internet service as well as residential and business phone systems in the area south of Round Rock to Kingsville.  They also offer digital land mobile radio systems for remote two-way communication. “This acquisition is important for VTX1 in that we overlap approximately 4,000 of their 17,000 square-mile service area through our northern exchanges,” said Dave Osborn, CEO of VTX1 Companies. “Their coverage area extends from south of Round Rock to Kingsville and includes San Antonio, San Marcos, New Braunfels and Corpus Christi. They have towers in these areas that we can use immediately to provide better broadband services to many of our existing customers. And adding Ranch Wireless customers to our existing customer base will give us close to…

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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES – McALLEN HERITAGE CENTER

McAllen has a history full of Indians, cowboys, desperadoes, border disputes, military service, cultural exchanges, ageless architecture, and people – lots and lots of people. Once upon a time that history might have been lost. Today, thanks to the McAllen Heritage Center, (MHC), the city’s and much of the Valley’s history is safe. Elva Cerda, Managing Director and a passionate McAllenite, is one of the founders of the center. First opened in June of 2008 in a third of La Placita building at 301 S. Main Street, the Center now fills the entire first floor and is busting at its seams. Where History Lives on Memories come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s a wide variety of memorabilia in the cases and on the walls of the building. Touring the museum allows one to time travel. It’s a grand adventure. Close to many hearts are seats from the recently…

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BUSINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW – LEO GUERRA, COMMERCIAL KITCHEN

Commercial Kitchen, specializing in restaurant equipment repair and maintenance, is Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA) certified. That is one of the most important aspects of this 24/7, 365 day a year service company. “To our end users, this means we’re not only trained by the manufacturers, but our own training facilities in San Antonio, as well,” Leo Guerra, Branch Manager, said. “Once hired, our technicians train three years to become master technicians, certified in electrical, gas, steam, and refrigeration. Guerra joined Commercial Kitchen 18 years ago, shortly after graduating from trade school, and has worked up through the ranks from service technician to service supervisor. “I found it fascinating to repair kitchen equipment. The next thing I knew I was Branch Manager, and have been for many years now.” A Chamber member for years, Commercial Kitchen participates yearly in the Business Expo. Using the event for more community awareness,…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – KENT SHEPARD

Kent Shepard Shepard Insurance Agency At the top of Kent Shepard’s loyalty list is being an Aggie, through and through. It all started back when Shepard, owner, Shepard Insurance Agency, was in the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, a Ross Volunteer. “Did you know in World War II, A&M provided more military officers than anybody in the United States other than military academies?” He bragged. “Being an Aggie in the Corps has probably been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. As a freshman you go through boot camp and it’s pretty tough. As a Corps member, you make such lasting connections. There’s still a group of us who get together a few times a year.” Raised on a farm with 1,000 head of hogs, 500 sheep, a couple hundred head of cattle, and growing wheat and oats, Kent’s ancestors had moved outside Graham, Texas, in the…

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MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – TOM BROWNMILLER

Tom Brownmiller Director of Marketing Texas Guest Ranch Blanca Cardenas struck gold again when she suggested to Tom Brownmiller, director of marketing at Texas Guest Ranch, that he become an Ambassador. “The Chamber’s a great association with great people, and the Ambassadors are great too,” Brownmiller said. “They are terrific motivators because one can show up at an event tired, down, or sick, but they’re going to get cheered up. Augie and Blanca are always there with a smile.” Also in real estate, he’s served three and a half years on the Board of Directors for the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors as MLS chairman and then treasurer. An avid reader of books on religion and God, he’s been an active church member all his life. Coming to the Valley in ‘77 as a manager/trainer for Pan Am’s baseball team, he moved around with his wife until 2012, when they…

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McHi Mariachi Oro wins multiple awards at FESTIBA

The McAllen High Mariachi Oro won first place at the 2018 FESTIBA (Festival of International Books and Arts) Conference and Competition March 2-3 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Performing Arts Center. McAllen High won in the Class 6A Division along with the caption awards for Best Vocals and Best Violins. Additionally, senior Kamryn Ramírez, won first in the vocal competition and was also named Overall Vocal Grand Champion, earning a $1,000 scholarship on behalf of MPR out of San Antonio and The Mariachi Connection.  “We are extremely proud of all of them for their hard work, dedication, and passion that they put in for yet another very musical performance,” Mariachi Oro Instructor Alex Trevino said.