Insperity Kingwood is our neighborhood, too For more than 30 years, Insperity has made its home in the Livable Forest. Of our more than 2,400 employees nationwide, more than 1,200 work right here in Kingwood. We live, eat, shop and play here, too. We think every neighborhood should be as nice as ours. That’s why our mission is to help businesses succeed so that communities prosper. Could we help your business? Find out – right here in the neighborhood.
insperity.com | 800-465-3800
HR and Business Performance Solutions: Workforce Optimization® Services | Human Capital Solutions Payroll Services | Time and Attendance | Performance Management | Organizational Planning | Recruiting Services Employment Screening | Financial Solutions | Expense Management | Retirement Services | Insurance Services
contents 06 12 16
Citizen of the Year
Scott Brady works tirelessly to help Lake Houston Area grow and thrive
New venue thunders to life
White Lightning has struck in the Lake Houston Area
Pioneer in the Lake Houston Area
18 22 24 30
Lake Houston Business Matters is a quarterly publication of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. It is distributed to Chamber members and area businesses. Digital copies are available online at LakeHouston.org.
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce 110 West Main Street, Humble, Texas 77338 (281) 446-2128 | LakeHouston.org
Chair of the Board Rev. Jerry Martin Light of the World Christian Fellowship President & CEO Jenna Armstrong, IOM Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce
Kingwood based entrepreneur has enjoyed national success with Undersummers by CarrieRae
Contributing Writers Tom Broad – firstname.lastname@example.org Morgan McGrath - email@example.com Kelli White – firstname.lastname@example.org
Developer of the Year
Graphic Designer Jen Weber – email@example.com
Crescent Communities makes The Groves the place to live in Lake Houston
Spreading the Joy of Sports
Humble business uses award money to help local schools
Follow the Leader
Three local residents who have become community assets through involvement
Photographers Robyn Choiniere - firstname.lastname@example.org Scott Tate - email@example.com
MetroMedia, Inc. David Small – firstname.lastname@example.org 4210 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Suite 314A Fairway, Kansas 66205 | (913) 951-8413 To advertise, contact Kathy Anthony (913) 951-8428, email@example.com
The Chamber is not responsible for advertisements included in this magazine. The information in this publication was compiled with care to ensure a high level of accuracy. Nonetheless, Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce and MetroMedia cannot guarantee the correctness of the information provided or the complete absence of accidental errors. For changes or additions, contact the Chamber at (281) 446-2128. No article may be reproduced without permission of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. Winter 2017 | 3
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
ew developments are coming to our area and this issue provides a glimpse at some of the exciting new attractions. For some, this is a welcome, much-needed addition to our community. For others, this represents a big change. And change can be daunting. Our community is undergoing an evolution from a sleepy bedroom community to a region that is on the verge of a massive population and job explosion. The top issue our area’s employers have, one that we hear over and over again, is the challenge of attracting and retaining young talent. Baby Boomers are retiring and we, as well as the rest of the country, have begun to enter a cycle of mass retirements among this generation. This poses another challenge for companies – passing knowledge and skills to a new generation. But in recent years, that new generation has been opting to live in other areas around Houston, which offer better entertainment and nightlife options.
The transition the Lake Houston Area is undergoing may be uncomfortable for many. But as a community, limited amenities place our businesses at a great disadvantage if we don’t offer anything to attract and retain young talent. Like the old saying goes,
“IF YOU’RE NOT GROWING, YOU’RE DYING.” Onward, Jenna Armstrong President & CEO, Lake Houston Area Chamber
Scott Tate Photo
4 | Lake Houston Business Matters
BELTWAY 8 & W LAKE HOUSTON PKWY HEB SHOPPING CENTER 12680 W. Lake Houston Pkwy, Ste 510 Houston, TX 77044 (281) 454-7455 www.postnet.com/tx219
BELTWAY 8 & WILSON RD WALMART SHOPPING CENTER 4830 Wilson Rd, Ste 300 Humble, TX 77396 (281) 441-7638 www.postnet.com/tx203
Winter 2016 | 5
Citizen of the Year Scott Brady works tirelessly to help Lake Houston Area grow and thrive BY TOM BROAD | PHOTOS BY SCOTT TATE PHOTOGRAPHY
6 | Lake Houston Business Matters
“IS SCOTT BRADY HERE?” THE FAMILIAR VOICE ROARED. Brady certainly knew the voice. It was Robert Sitton calling for him out in the front office. Brady and Sitton have been friends forever and he often came by for a quick visit. This time, however, it wasn’t just a friendly visit. It was official. Carrying a bunch of bright balloons and followed by a cell phone camera operated by a Chamber staff member, Sitton, chair of the Lake Houston Chamber board of directors and longtime friend, appeared at Joiner Architects in early December to announce on Facebook Live that Brady, partner and executive vice-president, was selected as the 2016 Haden McKay M.D. Citizen of the Year. “I’ve known Robert for years,” confessed a surprised, red-faced and speechless Brady. “He often comes to my office — but he’s never shown up before with a bright bunch of balloons. That’s not what I was expecting.” The Citizen of the Year Award is named for Dr. Haden - CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 Winter 2017 | 7
“It is so appropriate that Scott is able to practice and give back to the community where he grew up.” Carl Joiner
Scott Brady and wife, Tracy at Scott’s childhood farm.
- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7
McKay, the longtime family physician and Humble mayor for 24 years. Dr. McKay died in 1996. “In the name of Dr. McKay, this award recognizes Lake Houston residents who provided selfless public service on his or her own time not in the regular course of earning his or her living or advancing professionally,” Jenna Armstrong, president and CEO of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, said. Brady was honored at the Lake Houston Chamber’s Annual Awards Extravaganza presented by Stander and Company on Jan. 20 at The Overlook in Atascocita. Brady has spent most of his life in the Lake Houston Area. He was born in Jacinto City but moved to Humble when he was 10. When he was 6, Brady’s dad, William Brady, was killed in a deer-hunting accident. Four years later, Brady’s mother, Sharon, married Howard Mittag, a widower and father of three young children of his own. Plus Brady’s four siblings, their new family of 10 became very large, very quickly. Brady married Tracy Burrell in 1992 and they had three children together, Amber, 23, Heather, 22, and Jessica, 20. Both Brady and Tracy were Humble High School graduates. “Watching my girls play soccer used to be my favorite nonwork activity but now that they’re grown up, I probably will spend more time golfing,” Brady said. “I don’t really have a hobby. I enjoy sports, outdoor activities, social gatherings and exercising regularly. I enjoy working in the yard. In fact, I still
mow my own lawn. For me, it’s a de-stressing activity.” Scott earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Houston. “I can’t really think of any specific event that made me choose architecture,” Brady said. “I always enjoyed building things when I was young. I spent hours with my Lincoln Logs, designing and creating various structures, but I don’t think consciously I was thinking of practicing architecture. I’m sure those Lincoln Logs had an influence.” Those Lincoln Logs, though, and his degree eventually led Brady to Joiner Architects, a Lake Houston Area firm founded by Carl Joiner, specializing in education, municipal, medical and recreational facilities. “I met Carl Joiner and we began a dialogue over a period of time about me joining their staff,” Brady said. “I’ve been with the firm since 2007.” Joiner, who was honored as Citizen of the Year in 2007 and was chairman of the Humble Area Chamber of Commerce (now Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce) in 1994, reflects on his colleague’s 2016 honor. “We are so happy for Scott and so proud of him,” said Joiner. “He represents Joiner Architects so well. It is important for me to have our company invest in our community. And it is so appropriate that Scott is able to practice and give back to the community where he grew up.” Brady is one of three partners at Joiner Architects, along - CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
8 | Lake Houston Business Matters
INFLUENTIAL IN KINGWOOD’S SUCCESS
We’ve grown from $200 million to $4 billion by supporting Texas businesses like yours.
Independent. Driven. Successful. Keeping up with Kingwood’s growth.
Our clients appreciate innovation and craftsmanship. Your bank account is no exception. We build lasting relationships and tailor each account to fit your unique needs. Call today for a superior banking experience.
Stop by and meet Michelle, our newest addition to the Kingwood team.
713.275.8364 | 1102 KINGWOOD DR. | GREENBANK.COM GREEN BANK, N.A.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY LENDER
Winter 2016 | 9
“I continue to volunteer because I know the Chamber is constantly working on behalf of small business in an effort to help them succeed.” Scott Brady
- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8
with Chad Joiner and Joby Copley. All three partners and their spouses are graduates of Humble ISD. As a partner, Brady oversees architecture projects from the early design phase through construction. He assists with business development and marketing strategies along with the day-to-day operations. Brady has been involved in the construction of many local facilities with Joiner Architects including Woodcreek Middle School, the Lone Star College North Harris Student Services Center and its Fine Arts addition. One particular jewel in Brady’s crown is the newly refurbished Charles Bender Performing Arts Center, the former Humble High School. Humble City Council Member Norman Funderburk, the 10 | Lake Houston Business Matters
2014 Citizen of the Year, says the building is cherished by so many in the community and Brady’s expertise has created “an outstanding venue that greatly contributes to the history of our downtown Humble area and historic district.” “Scott worked closely with Humble Mayor Donnie McMannes,” recalls Funderburk. “Scott’s extensive research and attention to detail resulted in a landmark building that captures the original charm of the 1930 Charles Bender High School.” Early on, Brady developed a love for the Lake Houston Area. “Frankly, I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Brady said. “This is home. My family lives here. My parents and all but two of my siblings including my step-family live here. Many of my childhood friends still live in the area. I love the people here and it’s very rewarding to see how it’s growing and thriving.”
Scott Brady in the newly-renovated Charles Bender Performing Arts Center. The entire interior of the building was re-done by Brady and his partners at Joiner Architects.
Brady’s community leadership has played a significant role in the growth of the Lake Houston Area community. With three daughters who have gone through the Humble school system, education is very important to Scott, and that’s why he has become so involved with the Humble ISD Education Foundation. “It’s so rewarding to know that we’re helping teachers and students enhance the teaching and learning environment,” Brady said. “Through the grants we’ve awarded, many students are exposed to a better learning experience. It’s rewarding to have been able to play a small role in making that happen.” Brady also plays a role in Humble ISD’s annual barbeque cook-off and rodeo. For the last two years, he’s been Clean-Up Chair.
“There was a lot of concern about how the Civic Center Arena looked at the end of the rodeo,” Brady said. So, he got the ROTC students to help with the clean-up. “I really enjoy working with those kids. I give them instructions and they do it. The city says, when we’re done, the arena’s never looked better.” Funderburk appreciates Brady’s skill in “clean-up.” “The clean-up is always a big challenge and few sign up for it,” Funderburk says. “Last year, I visited the grounds and there was Scott Brady, along with a team of students, sacrificing his Sunday to get the job done.” “That’s Scott for you,” said Funderburk. “Doing the undesirable job no one else wants to do and personally making sure that expectations were met — and not expecting any recognition for it.” The Education Foundation, however, is just the beginning. Brady also is a member of the Rotary Club of East Montgomery. “They have both a local, national and worldwide focus,” Brady said. “Locally, they provide food and clothing for needy children along with scholarships. Internationally, Rotary is one reason why polio will be eradicated from the face of the earth. And not one single person in Rotary’s worldwide organization receives any compensation.” Brady has also chaired the Lake Houston Heart Walk for the past two years. He’s on the board of directors for the Lake Houston YMCA where he agreed to compete in a community dance contest, he is on the board of Kingwood Medical Center and he helps fundraise for the Boy Scouts. And then there’s Brady’s volunteer work with the Lake Houston Chamber. “I become involved in 2007,” Brady said. “I had a particular interest in public affairs and transportation committees because I believe they are of utmost importance to the economic growth and prosperity of the Lake Houston Area.” That’s not all. Brady volunteers for the annual Chamber Golf Classic tournament as well as the Chamber’s Total Resource Campaign, plus he’s chairman of the Humble BizCom meetings. “I really enjoy BizCom because it brings me back to my ties with Humble High School and the Humble community,” Brady said. “I continue to volunteer because I know the Chamber is constantly working on behalf of small business in an effort to help them succeed. I love how BizComs bring our community and the schools together. There are great people here. There are great things happening. I want to be a part of it.” Sitton, close friend and past chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors and 2012 Citizen of the Year, says that Brady has been a vital part of the Lake Houston Area for more than 40 years. “Scott is a product of our public schools and chose to remain in Lake Houston, the area that made him who he is,” Sitton said. What impresses Sitton the most about Brady is “that Scott does so much for so many and never asks for anything in return. He is totally unassuming and almost bashful at the notion of being named Citizen of the Year.” Robert Sitton believes there is no one in Lake Houston who gives more than 2016 Citizen of the Year Scott Brady. “Doing for our community, giving to our community,” said Sitton. “Never asking, ‘What’s in it for me.’ That’s what this award is all about. That is Scott Brady.” Winter 2017 | 11
The White Lightning management team includes (from left) Chuck Welsh, general manager; Casey Wright, Head of Security; Clint Smith, managing owner; and Nicole Townsend, general manager.
has struck in the Lake Houston Area WRITTEN BY MORGAN MCGRATH, COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR FOR THE LHACC PHOTOS BY ROBYN CHOINIERE WITH PICTURE IT SOLD REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY
hite Lightning is a name that the Houston area should get used to hearing. The entertainment venue, which will open in February, will give the Lake Houston Area something it was sorely lacking — a multiuse nightlife venue. 12 | Lake Houston Business Matters
As a child, Clint Smith grew up around the bar industry in Deer Park and after serving in the Army, he followed in his father’s footsteps of working in the security industry for over 10 years. But it came full circle for him when he truly realized what he wanted to do with his life.
“When my father got cancer in 2006, I used to spend almost every day with him,” Smith said. “One of the things he asked me was, ‘What do you love to do?’ and we would sit down and have these really long talks about what I loved and what I wanted to do. Finally, he said, ‘Look, just pick something that you love and run with it. Devote yourself to it.” A friend of Smith’s asked him to partner with him on a big project in Houston. Smith jumped on it and thus Voodoo Queen and The Republic House were born. “It felt really good to grow like that,” Smith said. “We had two very successful businesses.” Smith, Managing Owner of White Lightning, saw the need for something of this caliber that the Houston Area had never seen before to help make growth and economic development happen in the Lake Houston Area. “We want the area to be attractive to young people and we want them to stay,” Smith said. “Though in order to do that, you’ve got to provide entertainment.” Smith said that because of how successful he believes his venue will be, more restaurant and bar owners are going to look at the Lake Houston Area differently and will make plans to expand to the area. He said that he looks forward to having other bars and venues as partners. “Our main focus here is to be part of this community,” Smith said. “We don’t want to be an eyesore. We don’t want to be a thorn in anyone’s side. We want to be partners with the other businesses and really provide a great value to this entire community. We want to create something great here.” Smith believes that this area will soon thrive, and he wants his business to be there to see it. “I think that this area is, for growth, in its infant stage right now. We have a long way to go and it’s going to be a beautiful place when this is all done,” Smith said. White Lightning is located off of Beltway 8 and Wilson Road, making it easily accessible to Houstonians, as well as those living in the Lake Houston Area. After the original plan for the location of the venue fell through in Houston, Smith and his business partners were forced to explore other areas.
“We knew that this would be a great thing,” Smith said. “That we wanted to bring a different atmosphere of the country business. We started looking for a new space, which took us about eight months. We did the demographic research on Humble and learned that we just really liked the area. When I walked up into this space, I said ‘Oh, yeah. This is it. This is where we need to be.’ ” White Lightning, named after a reference to moonshine, will feature a 30,000-square-foot space that will host three connected but separate areas, each with a different ambiance. In front of the venue, gas lamps and a fire pit will invite patrons out onto a low-lit patio, boasting of outdoor furniture. A hostess will greet patrons at the door and direct them
“We want the area to be attractive to young people & we want them to stay.”
Clint Smith to their preferred area. Upon entering the main part of the venue, a huge halfmoon bar will feature the largest selection of bourbon, whiskey, scotch and moonshine in the state of Texas. Behind the bar will be a disc jocky booth and a raised key-card access VIP area, and behind that will be a 2,700-square-foot dance floor. To the left of the entrance, a long bar will feature a large rum and tequila selection, 24 daiquiri machines filled with New Orleans-style daiquiris and other frozen mixed beverages and 140 craft beers on tap, including beers from local breweries, that will help transition patrons into an area named Whiskey Thumper. Whiskey Thumper is the restaurant part of the venue, which will highlight a menu, described as southern Gulf Coast Cajun by Smith, made in a scratch kitchen. This full-service area will also highlight craft cocktails and craft beer. Music will be played by a jukebox. Huckleberries, an old-time barbershop, will be con- CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 Winter 2017 | 13
“We are going to bring White Lightning to another level. We’ll be starting the TV show...That’s going to bring national and even international attention to Humble, Texas.”
14 | Lake Houston Business Matters
- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13
nected to Whiskey Thumper. Men will be able to make appointments and can wait in the bar and have a drink before getting a straight-razor haircut or shave. Patrons will also be able to purchase cigars in a walk-in humidor, which will be toward the back of the barbershop. Smith described the venue as a Las Vegas feel on a country night club, which is something new for the Lake Houston Area and unique to the Houston area as a whole. This isn’t a regular country dance bar, and Smith wants to keep it that way. Smith said that he’s got tons of ideas to bring as many different people from different demographics into White Lightning as possible. To do that, he talked about bringing the world strongman competition to the venue, celebrities hosting five-course dinners, inviting families out for fireworks shows on New Year’s and Fourth of July, car shows, Sunday brunches with bottomless mimosas, weekly beer events, big talent and lots more. And that’s just the start. Smith has goals that will ensure White Lightning sticks around for a long time. “This is just the beginning for this franchise,” Smith said. “We are going to bring White Lightning to another level. We’ll be starting the TV show that we’re going to have here, and that’s going to put it on the map. That’s going to bring national and even international attention to Humble, Texas.” The TV show, “Live at White Lightning,” will be hosted by Smith and actor Randal Reeder. It’ll focus on the everyday ins and outs of the entertainment industry and the bar scene. They plan to heavily feature local artists who play at the venue to help highlight their music and potentially help them grow their career as musicians. Helping expose the local talent is something Smith really wants to implement. “What we’re doing is focusing on Texas country music,” Smith said. “We want to push some of the local artists by putting them on TV and broadcasting them. People around the world are going to see these artists that have never gotten this kind of exposure before.” By bringing local musicians and supporting local businesses in the area, it is obvious that Smith and his business partners want their entertainment venue to be completely immersed in the Lake Houston Area. “We are not the type of people that get into business to sell,” Smith said. “We get into business to last. So, our goal is to make this part of this community. We want to be part of charities. We want to be part of the organizations around here. We want to be a part of the events that happen. We are looking at the long run. We are looking at the marathon.”
On the Menu Appetizers
MASCARPONE AND GRITS STUFFED JALAPENOS IN PEPPER BACON COUNTRY FRIED OR NAKED CHICKEN WINGS WITH A SOUTH TEXAS MICHELADA SAUCE, FRIED OYSTERS TOPPED WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE AND PICO DE GALLO,
½ POUND BURGERS WITH KETTLE CHIPS OYSTER BACON LETTUCE TOMATO SANDWICH SHRIMP REMOULADE
Off the Grill
RIBEYE STEAK CHAR GRILLED AND SLICED THIN PILED ON TEXAS TOAST WITH FRIED ONIONS AND SMOKED PROVOLONE 1 POUND TEXAS RIBEYE SMOKED CHICKEN FRIED LAMB CHOP RACK OF RIBS ST. LOUIS STYLE CUT PORK RIBS WITH AN APPLE PIE MOONSHINE GLAZE
And much more! Winter 2016 | 15
SAM CAMMACK: Pioneer in the Lake Houston Area WRITTEN BY MORGAN MCGRATH, COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR FOR THE LHACC PHOTOS BY ROBYN CHOINIERE WITH PICTURE IT SOLD REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY
am Cammack, president of Inter Portfolio Lending Corp., has changed the way of that commercial developers will engage and help the business community and the overall way the Lake Houston Area is viewed. IPLC, a commercial-lending business, financed about 300 to 400 mortgages a month, but that evolved into a commercial-development management company after one of Cammack’s clients got into some deep water. Cammack purchased his client’s development, and so started this new journey. Once Cammack got wind of his company’s potential, he took it and ran with it. Since then, Cammack has developed nine centers around the Houston area, selling several of them. One of those centers is his most recent development in the Summer Creek area of more than 91,000 square feet, off Beltway 8 and Wilson Road. Cammack purchased the land prior to the Beltway being completed when property values were still low, making it inexpensive. He was one of the first developers in the Summer Creek area. At that time, the area was on the edge of being a prime spot for real estate. He said he had a feeling that this area was going to “light up.” “It’s grown bigger than I ever thought it would have,” said Cammack. “Then I looked at what was
16 | Lake Houston Business Matters
happening out in the Summerwood area and between [it and our location] it was kind of spotty, but there were a whole lot of rooftops going in. That made it pretty easy to make this decision.” Cammack’s development near Fall Creek is almost filled out with tenants. “We are pretty selective with the tenants we get in here,” said Cammack. “It’s taking a little longer to lease it out, but now we’re almost there.” But the reason it was not leased out easily was not because of the lack of popularity of the center and its prime location. “I’ve turned down more than I’ve accepted, for sure,” Cammack said. “And that’s really important that you have the right sales group to market your product.” Cammack said that most of his tenants, some of which include Rising Sun Sushi, The Egg and I and White Lightning, signed 10-year leases, which is uncommon for a lot of developments. “I know that our success here is pretty much because of our attitude,” said Cammack. “Building a nice place and treating our tenants well. We’ve got some really good tenants out here.” But that’s not the only thing Cammack does differently than other developers. Not only is he investing in his own center, but he moved the IPLC head-
“[The Lake Houston Area has] grown bigger than I ever thought it would have.” Sam Cammack quarters within the center to make sure that he can give the development and its tenants a personal touch. “That’s not typical of developers, even when they’re that deep into developing and finding tenants,” said Michael Prats, former vice president of the Lake Houston EDP. “A lot of them don’t have their office in the development.” Cammack’s development standards are set very high, so high that they surpass the standards of regulations, which, again, is not typical in the development industry. “You’ve got to live in the guidelines of what the people want,” said Cammack. “You don’t want to throw a red flag in front of regulators’ faces, because they’ll find a way to regulate you. We stay in line. We monitor ourselves. If you start cutting corners, you cut the life of your building. It’s like cutting a vein.” McCord Development is also coming into the area with Redemption Square, and Cammack welcomes them to the area with open arms. He said that competition breeds success, and he thinks this area’s support of his development and others will only benefit the community. “[Other developers] are very supportive,” said Cammack. “I think that there’s still room for growth. I think the influence from two or three major developments out here will influence the growth of the new developers that are coming in and buying properties.” Cammack said that one has to “build for the future” and he believes he is doing just that. He also stated the possibility of investing in other parts of the Lake Houston area in the near future. “The price of gas is fixing to bounce back up, so the economics of shopping and supporting the local areas and small businesses to me is paramount to the value of your home and where you live,” said Cammack. “This wasn’t the ideal spot to be 10 years ago, and now it’s becoming that. It’s a new horizon.”
The Area’s Leading Comfort Experts for ALL Air Conditioning and Heating Needs in Your Home
Aaron Mechanical · Family-owned and operating since 1978 · Fully-licensed and insured · Service for all makes and models · Factory-trained HVAC technicians · Financing options Merle Aaron Jr., Owner · WARRANTIES and GUARANTEES
We Stand For Your Success! Our goal is to provide friendly, efficient service with a personal touch. When you bank with us, you are not only our customers but our neighbors and friends.
8811 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. W Humble
281-446-4445 James L. “Jamey” Smith, CEO
www.citizensbanktx.com Winter 2017 | 17
Highlighting successful Lake Houston Area entrepreneurs
Undersummers by CarrieRae CarrieRae Munson is sharing ‘thigh love’ with customers coast to coast BY KELLI WHITE | PHOTOS COURTESY OF CARRIERAE MUNSON
innesota native CarrieRae Munson created a truly unique concept in ladies undergarments, and she has the Houston heat to thank for it. Munson moved to Kingwood 10 years ago and worked as a speech pathologist for Humble ISD. She had no plans to get into the clothing business, but in 2011, an idea sparked from simple necessity led to a business venture called Undersummers, an online company selling feminine undergarments that combat thigh chafing. “I often wear dresses because they are professional and cooler in the hot weather,” Munson said. “Plus-size women, most women, know that thigh chafing is a problem. People don’t like to
talk about it, and there are so few products that address it. I tried everything from bike shorts and shapewear to cut-off nylons, and they all lacked femininity, comfort and appropriate fit.” Undersummers offers a fresh concept in foundation wear. Munson spent six months designing the first pair of Shortlette Slip Shorts, which she markets as “rash guard panty shorts to wear under skirts and dresses.” They are designed for maximum coverage and comfort as well as rash protection. The key elements of Munson’s Shortlettes are a seamless inner thigh, stay-put legs and signature Stay-Cool fabric. Undersummers Shortlette Slip Shorts provide comfortable coverage that is made to be seen, and Munson encourages customers to let them show beneath their dresses. In fact, she feels strongly about wanting to help women feel beautiful in their bodies and includes a “no photo-shopping” statement on her website. “Photo-shopping is against my whole philosophy,” Munson said. “I don’t use professional models. I want women to see themselves in my product.” Munson also stresses her product is not anything like shapewear products that feel confining. - CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
18 | Lake Houston Business Matters
A Better Career Starts Today!
Lone Star College
www.LoneStar.edu/Kingwood•281-312-1600•AffirmativeAction/EEOCollege Winter 2017 | 19
- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18
“Shapewear is designed to try to change a woman’s body,” Munson said. “I offer anti-shapewear products that embrace women’s bodies. My shorts take away a problem. They are pretty and they allow women to feel comfortable in their skin. They are purely for comfort.” Munson taught herself about sales, marketing and product development by watching YouTube videos and doing lots of online research. The first pair she designed solely for her own needs and comfort, but soon her friends wanted a pair of their own. “I literally took off a pair and shared them with my friend,” Munson said. “It turns out I wasn’t the only woman who wanted a cute, comfortable chafing solution.” With that, Undersummers by CarrieRae went into production and in five short years has grown beyond Munson’s initial vision. While dramatic growth in a short period brought challenges like keeping up with demand, Munson worked through them. “We have run out of stock each year in the high season,” Munson said. “It has been a challenge finding manufacturers to produce smaller quantities in a timely manner.” Production originated with a small team of seamstresses in Houston but quickly grew too big to maintain that structure. Now, Undersummers by CarrieRae products are manufactured in Los Angeles, still by all U.S. manufacturers, a business practice important to Munson. Munson’s products are sold solely online, and all sales are processed through her Kingwood office. She has one employee who handles daily operations. And while Munson has a hand in every aspect of her business, from packing orders to answering customer emails, design, development and financials, she is thankful for all the help along the way. “I’ve been blessed to work with some great manufacturers and accountants,” Munson said. “The accounting was frustrating at first — I didn’t even know how to read a balance sheet. But now I love it.” She said Lone Star Small Business Development was a huge help during her first six months. “It was very beneficial to have a community contact to help with resources,” Munson said. When she’s not running her business, Munson is mother to a high school sophomore and a seventh-grader, both active in basketball, so she’s at the court supporting them at every game. She also enjoys volunteering for Lighthouse of Houston, a charity that helps the blind. This former school speech pathologistturned-undergarment entrepreneur said that although those two careers are seemingly completely different, both have allowed her to help people. “Women tell me every day how thankful they are for this product — that they can wear dresses again,” Munson said. “I came from a helping field and never thought I would continue helping others with this product. But I’m helping women every day.”
“I want women to see themselves in my product.” – CarrieRae Munson 20 | Lake Houston Business Matters
Autism Quick Facts
Campaign to INSTRUCT INSPIRE INCLUDE BUILD
- 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Delivers FREE* email, text and/or phone call alerts when your power goes out
- Autism is more common than multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, or childhood cancer. - Autism currently affects over 3.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.
Including DONATE KidsTODAY !
Be the Essential Piece towards building an inclusive community.
Are You Frustrated With The Lack Of Responsiveness And Slow Service From Your Current IT Company?
If so, give Divergys a call and let us show you what fast, friendly, and highly-responsive outsourced IT services can be like for your business. Call Us Today!
Chamber Member since 2003 www.divergys.com
Including Kids gives families of children and young adults with autism the support they need through: •Full time programming •After-School Services •Parent & Professional trainings •Community Events •Supports for transitions into adulthood
5364 FM 1960 Rd E. Humble, TX 77346 T: 281-852-0501 F: 281-852-0502 www.includingkids.org A 501(c)3 non profit organization
Party City of Humble has moved to a larger, brand new & Party more convenient location. City Next to Bed Bath and Beyond and Kirklands, behind Toys R Us. 20542 Highway 59 North
with this coupon
Coupon must be presented at time of purchase. Offer not valid on sale items and % off merchandise or helium tank retails and deposits. May not be combined with other %/$ off coupons or associate discount. One coupon per family. No reproductions. May not be used for prior purchases. Only one coupon or promotional code permitted per order and customer. Purchase must exceed minimum required spend before tax. Participation, selection and availability may vary by store. Valid in stores listed only. Not valid online. Internet distribution strictly prohibited. Distribution to coupon websites such as RetailMeNot, Groupon, Living Social, Hip2Save, etc is strictly prohibited. Valid 2/15/17 - 3/31/17.
Winter 2017 | 21
DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR Crescent Communities makes The Groves the place to live in Lake Houston BY THOMAS BROAD
RESIDENTS OF LAKE HOUSTON
who watched The Groves develop into one of the area’s premier communities are not surprised that Crescent Communities, the developer of The Groves, recently was named Developer of the Year by the Greater Houston Builders Association. Crescent Communities out-did the other two finalists for Developer for the Year award last October. The developer was also awarded with PRISM awards in five of the eight categories it entered including, Sales Information Center of the Year, Master-Planned Community Landscape Design of the Year, Community Signage of the Year, Print Ad of the Year and Sales Brochure of the Year. The Houston’s Best PRISM Awards are an annual event designed to recognize excellence within Houston’s homebuilding industry and to support their efforts, according to the GHBA website. “What distinguishes us, and ultimately helped us win this prestigious award, is our extremely conscientious approach,” said Nicole Zimmermann, project manager of Crescent Communities. “Prior to breaking ground, we spent a substantial amount of time planning and developing our vision. We remain steadfastly committed to that vision and our five pillars of stewardship — environmental sustainability, community building, health, happiness and longevity.” With the help of eight prestigious builders, Crescent
Photo Courtesy of YMCA of Greater Houston 22 | Lake Houston Business Matters
Communities is creating a community in an unspoiled setting that carefully preserves our natural forest while providing amenities making The Groves the place to live in the Lake Houston Area. “For more than half a century, Crescent Communities has helped define moments that matter for everyone who lives, works and plays in our communities,” said Becca Green, marketing associate for Crescent Communities. “Our mission is to create homes that cultivate communities, grow relationships and establish legacies.” But homes are not the only thing that will reside in within the development. “We want to be a part of the community and give back, so we are making a difference the lives of the families who will live in The Groves,” said Green. “We have two new schools currently under construction, an elementary school scheduled to open this fall and a middle school slated for opening in fall of 2018.” Between the two schools, and creating an even greater sense of community within The Groves, is the new Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex. “We’re excited that Humble ISD and the Lake Houston YMCA have selected our community to create the Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex,” said Green.
Photo Courtesy of The Miracle League
The unique facility, designed for students with disabilities, features two Miracle League baseball/multipurpose fields and a barrier-free playground with a covered pavilion. The construction of the complex is scheduled to be completed this summer. “Like their able-bodied peers, children and adults with disabilities and special needs benefit immensely from exercise and enjoyment of playing sports,” said Jerri Monbaron, executive director of the Humble ISD Education Foundation. “But there aren’t enough places appropriately equipped to play safely. The Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex will fulfill that need.” The YMCA took the lead in raising funds for the $4.86 million complex and will oversee its programs. “We thought it might take a few years to raise that much money,” admitted Monbaron, “but the fact that we raised $4 million in eight months speaks not only to the need for this project but also to the incredibly generous Lake Houston Area community.” Developing unique communities requires collaboration and Crescent Communities has found an exceptional partner in the Lake Houston Area Chamber. “From day one, the Lake Houston Area Chamber has been an ideal partner,” said Green, “Providing counsel on the inner workings of the local business community, making introductions to key business leaders, working hand-in-hand
with us to ensure The Groves is successful.” Crescent Communities chose the Lake Houston Area for their newest community because of its tremendous growth. They’ve already built 17 master-planned communities in Texas and throughout the country. But this is the first of its kind with the types of amenities it will soon offer to families with disabled children. This new sports complex will mean more to the disabled children in the area more than ever imagined. “These young people have spent years sitting on the sidelines watching their siblings and friends experience the thrill of running to first base or scoring a home run,” Monbaron said. “Now, it is their turn.” Below: (from left to right) Brandon Harper – Lifestyle Director, Becca Green – Marketing Associate, Nicole Zimmermann – Project Manager, Gini Brown – Customer Coordinator and Eileen Bustamante – Community Advisor. These people are all part of The Groves team specifically.
Winter 2017 | 23
SPREADING THE JOY OF
Sports Above: Humble business owners Jennifer and Cesar Coronel accept a check for $10,000 on the field of BBVA Compass Stadium during the Houston Dynamo game Oct. 16, 2016. From left to right: Larry Franco, BBVA representative; Cesar Coronel; Chris Canetti, Houston Dynamo president of business operations; Jennifer Coronel; and sons Caleb and Kalel Coronel.
Humble business JC Sports uses award money to donate sports equipment to local schools BY KELLI WHITE
hen the goal is to give back, the rewards can be exponential. Like a train of dominoes, donating within one’s community can keep the momentum going for generations. That’s what Jennifer and Cesar Coronel aim to do through their company donations and community outreach. One such donation came last fall when their company, JC Sports Houston, a children’s indoor sports facility located in Humble, won $10,000 in The 24 | Lake Houston Business Matters
Pitch Small Business Contest. The contest is designed to help support the future of a Houston-area business. More than 100 greater Houston-area small businesses entered The Pitch in hopes of winning $10,000, Houston Dynamo season tickets and a consultation with Houston Dynamo and BBVA Compass executive leadership. - CONTINUED ON PAGE 26
Winter 2016 | 25
“WE’VE ALWAYS HAD IT IN OUR HEARTS TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH WE LIVE.” – JENNIFER CORONEL
- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 24
JC Sports was officially named the first winner of The Pitch Small Business Contest on October 16, 2016, at BBVA Compass Stadium during the match between the Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy. When determining how they would use the money to help grow their business, the Coronels knew they wanted to stay true to their philanthropic ideals and commitment to providing sports opportunities to children. The Coronels opened JC Sports in August 2014 and immediately began reaching out to the community. Through the nonprofit founded by Cesar, known as The Kingdom Soccer Project, JC Sports has been able to participate in outreach efforts locally and internationally. If the Coronels won, they resolved to use the prize money to provide sports equipment to Title 1 schools in the Lake Houston Area. "We chose to use the money to buy sports equipment for local schools, continuing the idea of pouring our business back into the community,” Jennifer said. Before the contest, the Coronels donated to a specific school and realized the need was great. “We wanted to do more,” Jennifer said. “We gathered so much equipment for just one school, we thought, why not reach as many schools as we can in our neighborhood?” A first step was to contact schools asking if they would like to be a beneficiary and receive needed equipment to improve their programs. The response rate was not as expected. “We encountered an unforeseen challenge,” Jennifer said. “We had to build trust and relationships with schools. Not 26 | Lake Houston Business Matters
Caesar and Jennifer Coronel with JC Sports deliver sports equipment to P.E. teacher, Justin Fontenot at North Belt Elementary School.
every school responded, but for those that did, we were able to meet nearly every need on the coaches’ wish lists.” Justin Fontenot, Physical Education instructor at North Belt Elementary, was one recipient of the donations. “I was thrilled to receive anything,” Fontenot said. “When we returned from summer break, the owners showed up at school with basketball, volleyball, football, softball and volleyball standards and an Xbox kinect for rainy days. We were so thankful and happy, but then they handed us a check for a thousand dollars to be spent on more physical education equipment. [Jennifer and Caesar] are the most generous people I have ever met.” Their goal was to provide equipment to three schools using the award money, but they ended up donating sports supplies to nine area schools. “Donating to schools helps build partnerships within the community and everyone around us,” Jennifer said. “For us, it’s so much about building partnerships. If other businesses want to join in supporting a cause, we always like to share the love."
Winter 2017 | 27
Nikole Davis Owner/Buyer at Pretty Little Things Boutique
BY KELLI WHITE
28 | Lake Houston Business Matters
ake Houston native Nikole Davis loves to support her hometown. Whether it be as a small business owner or as a volunteer, Davis keeps busy continuously improving the community she has called home her entire life. Davis graduated from Crosby High School and received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston Downtown. She owns Pretty Little Things Boutique, where she employs eight Lake Houston Area high school and college women. She has had her business on Lake Houston in Kings Harbor for nearly five years. “This area is very diverse and also very selfsupportive,” Davis said. “The community comes together, whether it’s for a high school sporting event, or a huge charity. That’s what I love about this area; you can feel the closeness and everyone’s desire to support one another.” Davis is currently involved in the Houston Metro Go Texan Committee Atascocita/Kingwood for the Houston Rodeo. She is a Lake Houston YMCA board member, secretary of the Lake Houston Area Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals group and is in the Leadership Lake Houston Alumni Group. Davis is passionate about local organizations that help youth in the community. “The rodeo committee provides scholarships for Humble ISD students,” Davis said. “The YMCA does a million things for youth in our community like swim lessons and youth dances and Mothers Against Cancer provides funds to families, hospitals and research for childhood cancer.” In her spare time, Davis loves to travel. She went on her first mission trip to Haiti in Decem-
ber. The mission brought Christmas to an orphanage, discussed plans to build a larger orphanage and threw an appreciation banquet for all teachers at one of the schools. “We provided dinner at a local hotel, gifts and two week’s income to help reinvest in their economy,” Davis said. “Although we tried to pour into their community, we ended up leaving feeling like we got more out of it. They were full of love and kindness and we gained an appreciation and new a perspective.” Davis knows her efforts are valuable to the community because she has witnessed the cumulative effects of volunteerism. “I know I am just one person, but when a group of people get together, with the same end goal, so much more can be achieved,” Davis said. “Volunteering has also helped me
“The youth have so much potential, seeing them have the means to thrive is very inspiring and motivating to keep volunteering.”
- Nikole Davis meet many new people in the area. The resources are limitless, and the community starts to feel more tight-knit the more I volunteer. When I volunteer, I am not only helping out a need, but I feel a strong sense of self-worth while meeting new friends and bettering the community I live in. Although volunteers are doing something great, for me, the takeaways are even better.”
Logan Johnson Owner and Personal Trainer at LoganitusTraining
Growing up in Seguin, Texas, with his family, Logan Johnson discovered one of his passions — football. He played high school football, then moved on to play at Blinn College and Tarleton State University. While he prevailed in football, he struggled in other areas of his life. “Even though I excelled in football, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I learned to read, write and spell well,” Johnson said. He overcame this challenge to become a business owner and inspiration for everyone he meets, and he dedicates much of his success to his family and friends. “My family and friends are who I get my strength from,” Johnson said. “I want to give them hope that no matter what life has handed them, if they remain focused and dedicated to themselves and their dreams, anything is possible.” Johnson has lived and worked in the Lake Houston Area for six years and said the positive, uplifting people he’s met is what he enjoys most about being here. His goal is to do the same for his clients — to lift them up and achieve more than toned muscles. “Being a trainer allows me to connect the two things I love most, physical fitness and people,” Johnson said. “Helping people has become my passion.” “I help people build themselves from the inside out,” Johnson said. “Once someone discovers personal growth and resilience, they are better equipped to deal with life’s challenges. We pray after every training session to help people grow not only physically but spiritually as well.” Johnson is also passionate about wanting young people to have positive role models and to know that with hard work and investing in themselves, they have unlimited potential. Johnson volunteers through a program, which helps at-risk youth who are in need of a mentor and a positive influence. He is also a motivational speaker and speaks at local elementary
schools and high schools. “I share my story in hopes that they will see someone they can relate to and believe it’s possible to reach all their dreams they have in their hearts,” Johnson said. Johnson’s most memorable volunteer moment happened recently when he helped a student athlete to stop selling drugs. “I motivated him to learn and saw all of his grades go from failing to As and Bs,” Johnson said. “Through training, prayer and encouragement, he was able to go from being one of the weakest athletes in his freshman grade to one of the strongest in his high school and make positive steps in his life.”
“Giving back to the community will give you joy that money can’t buy.” – Logan Johnson Johnson hopes that with him helping others that they are inspired to pay it forward. “Investing in others is a life-changing experience for you as well as the recipients,” Johnson said. “Others will be forever grateful for you taking time to help them and it can start a chain reaction.” - CONTINUED ON PAGE 30 Winter 2017 | 29
Martha Serna Owner/Partner at Serna Insurance Agency
riginally from a small town called Noel, Missouri, Martha Serna, now living and working in the Lake Houston Area, has navigated the country, in two very different careers. In every role she takes on, she does so full speed ahead. She attended college in New Mexico and obtained her first job working for an insurance company, which began a lifelong career in the industry. There, she met her husband and they later transferred to Houston for his job. Her family moved to the Lake Houston Area in 1991. After moving to Houston, Serna left the business for a while and became a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. Several life and work changes led to Serna opening her own insurance agency, along with her husband. All the while, she kept her job with the airline until she retired after 20 years to run the agency full time. “After one year in business, I had written over $1 million in homeowner premiums and needed to get an office, and hire some help,” Serna said. “Two years later, my husband had reached 20 years with his company, and he retired and came over to the agency full time.” Although Serna attended college in New Mexico, she had not yet graduated when they moved to Houston, and she eventually graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor’s in business administration. Serna has two sons, Nicholas and Jesse, and a granddaughter, Madison, who is 7 months old. One of Serna’s favorite roles as owner of an insurance agency is being responsible for hiring and mentoring her staff. “I am proud of all the people who work for me, and I feel blessed to be a role model for all of the men and women who work in my office,” Serna said. “One of the messages that I try to convey to my staff is that anyone can be successful if they work hard enough and put the effort in.” The agency was awarded the #1 best place to work by 30 | Lake Houston Business Matters
the Houston Business Journal in 2014, and has ranked in the top five every year since, according to Serna. Serna enjoys sports and has instilled in her family and her employees the importance of leading an active lifestyle at any age. She especially enjoys cycling. “Our area near Crosby and Huffman is a great area for biking, plus the weather is great all year,” Serna said. “I’m an avid road biker and triathlete, and I competed in the Galveston Half Ironman race last April and have competed in several sprint triathlons. I’m also a member of the Lake Houston Bike Chicks, a local ladies’ cycling group.” In addition to working hard as a business owner and staying healthy and fit, Serna is a dedicated volunteer. “For years I have been involved with Autumn’s Dawn, an organization that helps young adults with autism transition into independent living,” Serna said. “I hired a young man with high-functioning autism, and he scanned all our customer documents into our system and made us paperless. He did such a great job, that I was encouraged to help him find a full-time career and I found Autumn’s Dawn as a solution. We have hosted an annual golf tournament for several years to raise money for this charity.” Every October, Serna sponsors a fundraiser for breast cancer called Mama’s and Martini’s with proceeds going to The Rose, a 501(c)3 charity that helps women who can’t afford quality breast care. Her agency also sponsors local swim teams, little league teams and charity golf tournaments. Serna’s passion for work, health and charitable contributions is in part inspired by other women who live the same way. “I am encouraged by any woman who volunteers to help other women, and those are type of role models that I gravitate to,” Serna said.
TX Buick GMC
Experience Matters After 20 years of experience in the insurance industry,
Pete and Martha Serna founded Serna Insurance Agency in 2001 with a vision of simply helping others.
We now manage over $30 million in premium annually, while still maintaining the personal touch that our clients deserve. Our promise is to protect, educate and offer you the best value available while striving to put you in a better place than you were before you met us.
Call us today and see why thousands of families and businesses have chosen Serna Insurance Agency to protect their lifestyle. The personal lines of coverage include home, auto, life, flood, and health.
9232 Will Clayton Pkwy. Humble, TX 77338 www.sernainsurance.com
32 | Lake Houston Business Matters