Category Archives: Professional Services

Cooking in the Great Outdoors

An outdoor kitchen and entertainment area with fireplace designed and installed by Grill Street. (Courtesy)

Outdoor grilling is as popular as ever in the Rio Grande Valley, with greater numbers of people taking it well beyond simply firing up a gas grill or charcoal pit on the back patio to cook steaks, ribs, chicken, vegetables and more. A fast-growing segment is expanding their options to install outdoor kitchens, some of which are as well-equipped as the indoor versions. Ruben Castillo, an architect who moved to…

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Branding to Reach the Top

A group of Top Branding TV participants whose work has been documented on YouTube. (VBR)

Years spent in the media business made clear to Vanessa Sarabia that there is no lack of abundant young talent looking to make their mark, if only someone would give them a chance. Sarabia has a deep background in the media business that includes photography, magazines, event promotions and production of commercials. She used those platforms of experience to create a niche business that would connect to young talent in…

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A Warrior for Good Health

Muniz Rio Grande Pharmacy owner Bobby Muniz in his Harlingen store. (VBR)

In 2015, Bobby Muniz was praying and holding on to hope as his wife prepared to give birth to their youngest child, Ariel. Some doctors did not give the baby girl much chance to survive long after birth, but she did, with surgeries soon to follow to bolster her health. The miracle and joy of his daughter’s birth inspired the Harlingen pharmacist and school board member to re-examine his work,…

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Company Recycles Cooking Oil

Fatty Chem plant manager Hector Martinez stand in front of a company tanker truck and next to used cooking oil collection containers. (VBR)

Some jobs are said to be as clean as a whistle while others sound as dirty as a pig sty. One successful Rio Grande Valley enterprise that some people might consider to fall in the latter category is recycling used cooking oil. A Los Fresnos-based company called Fatty Chem By-Products Inc. bills itself as a full-service recycler of fats and oils, with some of the byproducts having been used in…

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Local Small Businesses Receive $100,000

STED grant winners with Hidalgo County Commissioners Court members

Five businesses in small and rural communities in Hidalgo County are the recent recipients of funding to consequently spur prosperity in their respective communities. The funding comes from Hidalgo County’s first-ever Small Town Economic Development program with grants totaling $100,000. More than 40 businesses applied to the program with 21 chosen to participate. Businesses receiving $20,000 grants are Reybotics, Green Thumb Nursery, Cappadona Ranch, Ashley Nicole Boutique and Hernandez Barns. “This economic…

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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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