Category Archives: Professional Services

On the Road for Life

Ed Dramberger moved his travel industry consulting firm from New York to Brownsville. (Courtesy)

Ed Dramberger’s goal was to travel the world. Fifteen years ago, he started the business Destination Dr., a global consulting firm serving the travel industry, that has let him do just that. During November he is working in Stockholm and London but is back home in Brownsville for Thanksgiving. The past few months have taken the Destination Dr. to Vietnam, Galveston, China, India, Denver and Jacksonville, Fla. In 10 years,…

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A No-frills Path to Fitness

Hardknox owner Rodney McClanahan transformed his father’s auto garage into a no-frills fitness gym. (VBR)

Some of Rodney McClanahan’s best days as a youth were spent at a mechanic’s shop in west Brownsville on the Military Highway. It was from the ages of 5 through 12 that McClanahan shadowed his father, whom he described as being a “big buff dude,” as his dad repaired and tinkered with cars at Rodney’s Garage. The big Rodney would introduce his namesake to another passion – lifting weights –…

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Floods and Fighting Back

SS Auto Body Solutions owners Rachel Hinojosa and Rene Moreno next to a classic car in their shop. (VBR)

“In life you have to take chances. Sometimes the biggest risk you can take is not taking one,” said Rachel Hinojosa. Last year, she and her husband Rene Moreno opted to take a more active risk with their business SS Auto Body Solutions. In November 2017, one year after the couple had opened SS Auto Body Solutions in Harlingen, they jumped at the opportunity to lease a Mercedes building with…

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Merger Opens New Markets

Michael Blum and Edward Villarreal in front of their new McAllen office following the merger of their commercial real estate companies. (VBR)

After years of discussion and negotiation, a new merger has created one of the largest independently owned full-service commercial brokerage real estate firms in South Texas. Michael Blum, partner and managing broker of NAI Rio Grande Valley; Charles Mueller, managing partner of Synergis Realty Group, LLC, owner of NAI Rio Grande Valley; and Edward Villarreal, owner of South Texas Commercial Real Estate, recently signed off on the merger that has…

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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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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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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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Summer Camps Keep Kids Busy

JHK Equestrian Country Club owner Jamie Ricks instructs a student in the riding arena. (VBR)

When the final school bell rings in the summer break, many parents turn to private businesses for programs to keep their children active through new experiences. Throughout the Rio Grande Valley there are dozens upon dozens of summer camps offering just about any activity that catches a youngster’s fancy. From horseback riding to physical fitness and art to academics, these businesses offer year-round classes in their fields, but come summer…

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