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Texas Border Business Celebrates 10th Anniversary

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From L-R: Cynthia Esquivel, owner and founder of Body Works franchise; Alma Ortega Johnson, area President for South Texas- Wells Fargo Bank; Anabell C. Cardona, Director- Valley Grande Institute; Bob and Janet Vackar, owners- Bert Ogden Auto Group; Ylianna Guerra, Miss Texas USA 2015; Glen Roney, BBVA Compass Bank; Albert Lopez, founder- Independent Wealth Consultants; Rick Ivy, owner- Pueblo Tires, and Dora Brown, Vice President of Marketing- International Bank of Commerce.
From L-R: Cynthia Esquivel, owner and founder of Body Works franchise; Alma Ortega Johnson, area President for South Texas- Wells Fargo Bank; Anabell C. Cardona, Director- Valley Grande Institute; Bob and Janet Vackar, owners- Bert Ogden Auto Group; Ylianna Guerra, Miss Texas USA 2015; Glen Roney, BBVA Compass Bank; Albert Lopez, founder- Independent Wealth Consultants; Rick Ivy, owner- Pueblo Tires, and Dora Brown, Vice President of Marketing- International Bank of Commerce.

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez,

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As Originally Published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition.

I personally have a lot to thank God for, especially now that Texas Border Business is celebrating the 10th Anniversary since its inception in July 2005. It sounds short and easy, however the journey has been long, but nevertheless very exciting.

I have always had faith in God and only by His Grace and Favor to us were we able to start this publication with only two thousand dollars. The truth is, it was the last money I had in my pocket, nothing else but a mortgage about to be foreclosed, unpaid bills, and barely enough to survive day-to-day and to top it off, I was unemployed.

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All of this happened when I turned 50, it felt like it was supposed to be my jubilee year; what was different was that my debts were not forgiven; however, it offered me a new start in the right direction.

For me, this venture has been a challenge and a real test of a writer, photographer, and as a businessman. When I started this publication it was not my intention to prove wrong the experts who say that if you do not have enough capital you will fail in business. I assure you that fact still holds. In my case it was swim or… you know what.

Even during the worst of recent economic times beginning in 2007 when the U.S. economy entered a mortgage crisis, Texas Border Business continued to do well.  I remember that the severity of the mortgage crisis hurt consumers and businesses alike.

Unfortunately for many the crisis thickened and the following years were more of the same. Texas Border Business lived through all those years without a scratch, so today it is a great day to say, “Thank you God”, and thank you to all that have contributed to make this publication a reality.

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Five years ago when we celebrated our 5th Anniversary, we dedicated the front page to five city mayors, each one of them representing a year of our existence. Appearing on our 2010 front cover were former Hidalgo Mayor John David Franz; Former Pharr Mayor Leopoldo “Polo” Palacios; former McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez; Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, and Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia.

During this 10th Anniversary we are dedicating our cover to ten different leaders, 6 women and 4 men of the Rio Grande Valley as you can see on our new Cover for July 2015.

I will take this time to say a little bit about each one of them, since I had the opportunity and the honor to write their stories, which I found to be interesting and unique.  All of them were front cover exclusive featured stories and that is why they are part of this anniversary issue.

The first one is Cynthia Esquivel, which I consider a true businesswoman. She is not afraid of taking risks and has a great deal of knowledge about the markets that she selects to do business.

She brought a franchise technology, which is considered revolutionary first to McAllen and Mission. She operates under the name of Body Works Ultra-Lipo Clinic.

When this article was published, this was about an amazing technology that can melt away fat, sculpt beautiful waist lines, smooth out cellulite, and even remove and reduce wrinkles with machines and methods that actually get results.

Cynthia Esquivel, owner and founder of the Body Works franchise in the Rio Grande Valley stated, “Unlike surgical liposuction, our treatments require no recovery period. Patients can walk out the door immediately with a new look and feeling great.”

This is possibly the most amazingly great news for anyone that desires to lose a few inches off the waist, however it can give you even better results.

Cynthia told Texas Border Business, “Right now we hold the current record for the most inches lost, a total of 11-1/2 inches of fat in only one 50-minute session.” She continued, “That was a cumulative total between three measurements of the abdomen alone.”

It is a very interesting story and it can be found on our website the title is “Body Works Ultra-Lipo Clinic, a safe revolutionary way of melting body fat and losing inches from your waist”. Click here.

Another great Exclusive was Alma Ortega Johnson; Texas Border Business featured her with a story called “Alma Ortega Johnson, An Example of Banking Leadership”.

Alma is another example of a very effective professional that has already made her mark on the Rio Grande Valley. Today she holds one of the most important banking positions in the Valley and she continues to be a down to earth person.

She works for Wells Fargo Bank, a national chain as the Area President for South Texas. Her territory covers the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and the Coastal Bend including Alice, Kingsville, Premont, Robstown, Taft, Rockport, Ingleside, Portland, and Corpus Christi.

According to Alma, the existence of banks is central to the economic health of any community. “In the same way, there are no healthy banks in unhealthy communities. It is a relationship that works both ways,” she stated.

In this community, Alma is considered to be like a superwoman, always active. Among all the activities she is already performing, one is at the top; her passion in developing people. “I have more than 640 team members and I love to see them grow and achieve their professional goals.”

With all these responsibilities and such an active professional and personal life, how is she able to deal with the stress? “I exercise in the morning doing a boot camp at the McAllen Country Club. I have massages, and follow The Zone diet.”

“In pursuit of bringing education and making a better world”, that was the title for Anabell C. Cardona. She is the President and C.E.O of Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies, a nonprofit career school located in the heart of Weslaco, Texas.

Cardona became the Exclusive story in November of 2011. She told Texas Border Business that the primary mission of the Institute is to instruct students in Allied Health Programs such as Vocational Nursing, Nurse Assistant, and others.

This helps to qualify them for employment in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, and other medical settings. During the time of this interview she said that Valley Grande Institute offers day and night classes.

In 1992 the school was approved as a health science career school, with nursing as its Major program. In the year 2000, Cardona took over its operation as President and C.E.O.

She is proud and honored to say that she is originally from Weslaco. “This is where I currently live and this is where I decided to keep this school in order to help strengthen and support the community which has given so much to both my family and me,” she told Texas Border Business.

Cardona went on to say, “To serve as a leader of an organization like this is exciting.” It is easy to see how she enjoys using the leadership capabilities of a visionary woman who sets goals and dreams big to create greater opportunities for the people in her community. However, being in a position of leadership doesn’t come easy. It comes with a daily stack of challenges. “I love what I do,” she said in a very cordial way.

“Bob Vackar Visionary Man and Creator of Businesses”, was the title for the Exclusive story we did for Bob and Janet Vackar. This couple is also superhuman. With Bob’s leadership they have been able to create new car dealerships and employment opportunities for many throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Robert C. “Bob” Vackar, the CEO of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, was born in Gonzalez, Texas. He graduated from Edinburg High School and then attended Texas A & M University as a Corps Cadet, graduating with a degree in Accounting.

After graduation, he went to work for Shell Oil Corporation and simultaneously attended South Texas College of Law in Houston for two years. Bob was then drafted into the U.S. Army for three years, one of which, he was stationed in Vietnam. He returned to Shell Oil Company as a financial analyst for 12 years.

How Bob met Janet

When Bob tells you the story of how he met Janet, you immediately think of a love story out of a movie. While living in Houston as he was walking through his apartment complex’ parking lot, he saw a bumper sticker that read ‘Bert Ogden Rio Grande Valley.’ Even though he didn’t know the business name, he was very familiar with the Rio Grande Valley.

Moved by curiosity, he began looking for the owner of the car.  He couldn’t resist meeting and talking with her; all too soon, Bob and Janet had fallen in love.

The couple began a new chapter that evolved the Bert Ogden Auto Group into a conglomerate that employs hundreds of people.  This opened another chapter of altruistic actions that benefit the Valley as well.

You can find the compete story here.

“Ylianna Guerra, Born to be a Queen”, that is the title of the story of Ylianna Guerra, a formidable 22-year-old contestant for the Miss USA 2015 title.

Miss Guerra is the current titleholder for Miss Texas USA 2015 from the Rio Grande Valley, a first since the 1960s for this area.

Ylianna, a McAllen native, graduated for Memorial High School and just recently graduated from The University of the Incarnate Word where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Bilingual Communications, as well as a place on the Dean’s List where she served as a member of the National Society of Leadership & Success.

She plans to be a news anchor but ultimately she also has plans of creating her own non-profit organization to help children in need. Find more about Miss Texas USA in this issue.

I couldn’t be happier to have had the opportunity to spend time with one of the greatest bankers of South Texas. I am talking about Glen E. Roney; he was also our cover feature story, which was titled, “Glen E. Roney, Banking Icon of South Texas”.

What an interesting story. He grew up in the beginning of the depression and emerged as one of the great bankers of all time in the Valley.

Businesspeople of the area are of the opinion that Glen Roney is a super banker. A banker who builds communities using knowledge, experience, and a lending style based on the pleasure of seeing people succeed.

In the South Texas community, he has served, Mr. Roney is considered a banking icon.

“I am honored to receive those compliments, but at the same time I felt it was my responsibility as the head of the banking organization to provide service to the community.” He added that any time you make a loan there are some risks involved. According to him, his organization always tried to carefully weigh the risks in order to prevent failures.

The complete story about Mr. Roney can also be found here.

Another Exclusive titled “Life by design not by default,” is when I had the opportunity to meet Albert Lopez, owner and founder of Independent Wealth Consultants in Edinburg, Texas. He was an engineer that changed professions when he discovered a passion for financial and retirement planning.

He is a 1993 graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station and a Rio Grande Valley native.

Albert is recognized as a problem solver and what excites him the most is working on people’s personal situations to come up with solutions and a plan of action to achieve their goals. “Finding solutions to the financial challenges in our clients’ lives is our purpose,” he told Texas Border Business.

What a pleasure to have met Ricky Ivey, he is the owner of Pueblo tires. He was also our featured story which was titled “Ricky Ivey of Pueblo Tires: Passionate Businessman and Philanthropist”.

Having the opportunity to meet business people is a privilege, and even more so to meet a Christian businessman and philanthropist. This unique combination, which is the essence of his life, has brought Ricky Ivey of Pueblo Tires much success.

Despite his success in business, Ricky Ivey is a simple man who puts God first, loves his family, and cares for his employees spiritually.

Pueblo Tires has become a leader in this industry by conveying a message through a character that he created. Those who know about selling a brand in a market that is highly competitive will be in agreement with me that creating a character is probably one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish, because the character, the message and the delivery have to hit the target audience.

And for those who didn’t know, Ricky plays that character himself; it is called “SHAMPOOZIE” (means uncompromised customer service).  The market is well aware now that the cowboy in white is Pueblo Tires; he has been well branded in the market place.

Another icon of this community is Dora Brown; her story was titled, “IBC’s Dora Brown Empowering the Future with Financial Education”

As I wrote in May of 2014, when Dora Brown springs into action, no matter the complexity, the project is done. Dora, as she is known in the communities where IBC has a footprint, can be called a Superwoman as well. She has a big heart and is always ready to help.

Many of you know her, but for those that don’t, she is the Senior Vice President of Marketing, a position she has held since 1992 at International Bank of Commerce McAllen or as it is best known: IBC-McAllen.

Dora is passionately involved in whatever she does, and her duties include anything related to advertising, public relations, community outreach, and financial education in the local schools.

“IBC takes their responsibility very seriously by underwriting projects that involve and benefit the community,” she pointed out. One example is the introduction of the ‘minitropolis’ concept in 1997 that has now grown to include two IBC branches; H.E.B., Walmart, and Target stores; city council; TV and radio stations; a newspaper; an I.R.S. office; a police department; a post office; pizza delivery; and a recycling center.

Dora supports this project, better known as Houstonville, an in-school learning laboratory inside Sam Houston Elementary in McAllen that functions much like a city or town.

She pointed out that the fundamental goal of the program is to help students gain an understanding of financial concepts while also learning the value of leadership and responsibility that will help each of them maintain sensible habits as adults. Dora explained that the minitropolis concept was first established by IBC Bank in the Rio Grande Valley and the success of the project has prompted IBC to expand the concept to other markets in cities across Texas and Oklahoma.

But what excites Dora the most in her daily and busy professional life? “Everything.” She said, “The people I work with, my staff, and most of all the ability and support that I have from IBC Bank to go out and work with different organizations in the community.” Needless to say, she enjoys doing what she does and plans to do it for a long time.

Dora pointed out that IBC Bank is a community bank with large banking capabilities. She is proud to say that IBC can make substantial loans and provide an array of customized products without losing the in-person, quality care service of a community bank.

She runs her marketing department with only a few or like she says, “I have four very good employees who are very loyal to the bank and to me.” She feels very fortunate to have them because they are very dedicated.

We have done many more interviews during these 10 years of existence and I only hope that they have enlightened you, inspired you, or entertained you. My plans are to bring you more stories about community leaders because based on the acceptance of this publication that is what you like.

Thank you to all as we start our 11th year in business. TBB

Written by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year Award Winner & The 2009 and 2012 Paul Harris Award Recipient.

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