BY RODA GRUBB
Texas Border Business
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/ Mega Doctor 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 the community, donating to non-profit organizations, it was their Salvation Army donation that touched his whole staffs’ hearts. “I had dressed up as Santa for the kids,” Ramos said.
“One little boy told me I couldn’t be Santa. ‘If you’re really Santa, then I want a house for Christmas,’ he told me. It reminded me how we need to realize every day how fortunate we are and if we can give, we should.” Ramos attributes his success to his chefs and his staff.
Mail-Pak Your Box Store owner, Ray Norton loves the recognition for his employees. “I appreciate the honor highly and am glad my employees get recognition for their hard work,” Norton said. “We have a sign about the award hanging in the front of the store and we’ve had many customers comment on it. It really has been a morale booster for my staff.”
Norton believes the key component to a successful business is the staff, letting them know daily they are appreciated. Creating a domino effect, customers will then be appreciated and customer service reaches new heights.
Norton, using his radio and television background, has emceed the McAllen Town Band performances for 23 years. He also emceed the 4th of July Parade and Candlelight Posada for 25 years. Those are just the tip of the iceberg of the community involvement for this volunteer oriented business.
Not just a box and shipping store, Norton continues to broaden the store’s services, most recently by installing a FotoZoomer which prints color pictures, banners, posters, signs, and calendars up to 44 inches wide with 1440 dpi resolution.
McAllen Country Club is more than golf. . . just ask Club General Manager Jeff Lowder. “We have a pool, tennis courts and a fitness facility with yoga and spin classes. We also have casual dining and an outdoor patio area overlooking the lake on the 10th fairway. We offer a lot more than golf,” Lowder said.
All this, combined with customer service and community participation, contributed to the winning of this prestigious prize. “It means a lot to our employees and members for being recognized as a business that has been around for a long time,” Lowder said.
Like the other winners, Lowder gave the credit to his staff. “I depend on my staff as my marketers. They’re the ones who engage with members daily,” he said. “I have members who have been here for 50 years and there’s a reason for that. They’re very comfortable with us and know they’ll be well taken care of. I believe in that Cheers TV show factor… members go ‘where everybody knows their name.”
Being a host for the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation is only one of the many ways they give back to the community which supports them wholeheartedly.
Texas Border Business is a definitive local commerce news source on general business, economic development and education with a motto of “We Promote Commerce at All Levels.” In July of 2005, the first edition hit the stands and there was no looking back. “Mega Metropolis” began as a Spanish paper in 2006 but by 2009 had been rebranded into the successful “Mega Doctor News,” reporting on doctors, hospital CEOs and COOs, head nurses, Physician Assistants, and the like.
Boasting a motto of “We Bring Doctors Closer to People,” only medical doctors are featured on the cover. Winning this award for both papers, the owner/publisher, Roberto H. Gonzalez, passed along the honor. “It’s not just for me, but for my team,” Gonzalez said. “Being recognized by your peers is something that doesn’t happen often. I’m so happy that the McAllen Chamber has this program because it gives us the confidence to continue doing things for this community. I feel very proud.”
Another recent honor for the company was being selected by The University of Texas to have the company’s publications added as part of the University’s archives because of its factual reports and interesting stories that can therefore be used by future generations for research.
The Dry Room began as a blow dry salon. Over its five-year life, it has evolved into a full-service salon, currently adding spa services such as full-body waxing, facials and lash extensions.
Co-owned with Cindy Maxwell, Ginna Villarreal has added another exceptional service to the salon. “We host some of the best kid birthday parties, Girls Night Out and bridal parties here,” Villarreal said. “I love party planning and work with each customer to make our services fit their personal needs.”
Villarreal uses her social media expertise to bring The Dry Room into the community. “We have a really great following, not only with the young generation but with their moms too. We’ve become this really cool, hip, unique, modern place to be for all things hair and makeup.” The Dry Room works with McAllen ISD, several non-profit organizations and charitable causes, and has also sponsored several pageant girls.
Winning the award was a surprise. “It was overwhelming to be in company with businesses who have been around for a long time,” Maxwell stated. “I feel a sense of pride for the five stylists. It’s humbling and we’re thankful to the community for its support.”
The 2016 Top 5 Small Businesses are an eclectic medley of fine-tuned business machines, which together demonstrate the diversity of successful entrepreneurs in McAllen.