Author Archives: George Cox, VBR Managing Editor

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

Custom Nets to Catch Clients

SPI Nets owner Joe Rodriguez works at his desk in the company’s San Benito office. (VBR)

Joe Rodriguez’s father started SPI Nets more than three decades ago, relying on his fishing background to launch a business making fishing nets. But today, the company’s nets don’t catch fish. They catch balls – baseballs, soccer, golf and even lacrosse balls. “The fishing industry as far as net building is a very localized business,” Rodriguez said, meaning that fishing regions tend to have plenty of established businesses manufacturing the…

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Leadership Matters: Frank Fernandez

Frank Fernandez

Editor’s Note: Leadership can mean different things to different people. The Valley Business Report turned to experienced business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley to learn more about their views on leadership in their own words. Through a question-and-answer format, Leadership Matters presents comments on leadership from Valley CEOs and other business leaders. Frank Fernandez has been plant manager for Duro Bag at the Port of Brownsville since 2015. With…

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Love of Fish Nurtures Success

Isaac Ramirez, known as The Fish Guy, with a saltwater aquarium he designed and installed in a business in Edinburg. (VBR)

When his mother bought a goldfish in a bowl at a carnival, a young Isaac Ramirez found his future. “I went back the next day and got a couple more and I was hooked.” Beginning with that day, his youthful curiosity grew into a hobby and eventually his livelihood. With as many as seven aquariums in his home at one time, hobby aquarist Ramirez was making his living as a…

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Business that Beats the Heat

A Tenzo employee cleans a large shade structure prior to the new school year at Covenant Christian Academy in McAllen. (VBR)

Protecting people and property from the scorching South Texas sun and its potentially dangerous ultra-violet rays is the focus of a fast-growing Rio Grande Valley enterprise. Tenzo Architectural Solar Shades owner Christian Diaz built the business from scratch and works tirelessly to keep up with the demand as his business continues to expand. The Mission-based company designs, manufactures and installs custom outdoor fabric shade structures throughout the Valley. With more…

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Nonprofit Fosters Healing

Cindy Perez-Waddle, a licensed professional counselor, stands on the stage of a mini-theater where children can use puppets and other props to act out their feelings. (VBR)

Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is among life’s hardest journeys. For children, the path can be especially confusing and difficult. In the Rio Grande Valley there is only one organization that specializes in helping young people travel that road to healing. The Children’s Bereavement Center Rio Grande Valley in Harlingen opened in February 2017 to foster healing for grieving children and their families. “That’s really…

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Habitat for Humanity Opens New ReStore in Harlingen

ReStore Harlingen interior

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Harlingen opened the doors of its new location this week in a renovated building made possible by a groundswell of community support. The building on First Street formerly housed Loaves and Fishes. It was acquired by Habitat for Humanity early this year along with the former Zarsky’s Lumber property across the street. The eight-month inside-and-out renovation project was made possible by tens of thousands…

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Bagging it by the Billions

Duro Bag operations manager Carlos Vela shows some of the many paper bags the company produces for restaurants and other businesses. (VBR)

That familiar orange and white paper bag filled with your favorite Whataburger sandwich and sides has Texas roots as deep as the hamburger chain itself; it was manufactured in Brownsville. The same goes for bags bearing the logos of Dairy Queen, Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, Popeye’s and Laredo Taco Company at neighborhood Stripes stores, to name just a few. Duro Bag, the only non-marine manufacturer at the Port of Brownsville, is also…

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Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm

WycoTax owner Christopher Wycoco, second from right, with his team at the company’s Harlingen office. (VBR)

Christopher Wycoco was the first man to graduate from the Entrepreneur Boot Camp at the Women’s Business Center of Cameron County. This year, the Women’s Business Center nominated him for, and he received, the 2018 Minority Business of the Year Award from the Small Business Administration. A native of the Philippines, Wycoco came to the Rio Grande Valley to pursue a career as a registered nurse, taking a position at…

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Keep Customers Coming Back

When Build-A-Bear launched its “Pay Your Age” customer loyalty promotion for its Bonus Club members in July it turned out to be too big. Offering loyal customers a one-day opportunity to make their own stuffed toy and pay only the price of the child’s age, the company created chaos. Parents with their children formed huge lines at stores, with some customers having to wait for four hours or more to…

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On Leadership: Michael Blum

Michael Blum

Editor’s Note: Leadership can mean different things to different people. The Valley Business Report turned to experienced business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley to learn more about their views on leadership in their own words. Through a question-and-answer format, Leadership Matters presents comments on leadership from Valley CEOs and other business leaders. Michael Blum has resided in the Rio Grande Valley since 1972 and has for more than four…

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