Lake Houston Business Matters Summer 2018

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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. | 800-465-3800

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Despite destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, Lone Star CollegeKingwood still offers over 60 areas of specialization including computers, education, engineering, fire science, healthcare, marketing, process technology, and more. Classes are available in face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats at the main campus (20000 Kingwood Drive), LSC-Atascocita Center, LSC-Process Technology Center, and at the East Montgomery County Improvement District in New Caney. • 281.312.1600 • Affirmative Action/EEO College Spring 2018 | 1

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Top 4 Under 40

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


Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce 110 West Main Street, Humble, Texas 77338 (281) 446-2128 |



Back 2 Education


Lake Houston Area Health Care


Lifting Up Lake Houston



Taking Care of Customers - Serna Insurance Agency, Inc. Follow the Leader

On the Cover

Announcing the 2018 Lake Houston Area Top 4 Under 40: Nikole Davis, the owner of Pretty Little Things, Jason Stuebe, the City Manager of Humble, Jessica Beemer, the Chief of Staff for Houston City Council Member Dave Martin and Trey Hill, a financial advisor with Edward Jones.

Chair of the Board Corinn Price Insperity Chair Elect Sam Schrade DNA Studios

President & CEO Jenna Armstrong, IOM Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce


Editor in Chief Morgan McGrath – Contributing Writers Tom Broad — Steve Hale — Jerry LaMartina — Rod Perlmutter — Project Manager Ryan Moore – Photographers Hope Photography – (281) 324-1534 Scott Tate Photography – (281) 446-6368


MetroMedia, Inc. David Small – 4210 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Suite 314A Fairway, Kansas 66205 | (913) 951-8413 To advertise, contact Joshua Rose (510) 734-7028,

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. 2 | Lake Houston Business Matters

Spring 2018 | 3

Top 4 Under 40

Young leaders committed to making a difference in the Lake Houston community BY TOM BROAD PHOTOS BY SCOTT TATE PHOTOGRAPHY

here is no doubt that the Lake Houston Area community is filled with young leaders that are vital to the well-being of the economy and are investing their time and their careers to make this area the perfect place to live, work and play. However, there are some young professionals that stand out from the rest. These professionals were nominated by peers and coworkers that saw the outstanding impact they all have on this


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community. They were chosen by a hand-selected committee of community members and were named as the winners at the inaugural YEP Awards presented by Kingwood Medical Center this winter. Though some have already found their passion in life, for others this is just the beginning for them. For the third year, the Lake Houston Area Chamber is honored to name the 2018 Top Four Under Forty.

JESSICA BEEMER A native to the Lake Houston Area, Jessica Beemer, 31, knew since her adolescent years that serving the community was her calling. Two teachers in particular, in sixth and seventh grade at Atascocita Middle School, recognized her strengths and were innovative enough to steer Beemer toward community service. After graduating from Humble High School, she attended the University of Texas San Antonio where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies and a master’s degree in public administration. She also is certified as a nonprofit leadership manager. While in college Beemer received the Presidential Scholarship in 2012, was honored as Most Outstanding Graduate Student in 2011, Presidential Fellow in 2011, University of Texas Archer Fellow 2011 and was named Ms. UTSA in 2008. Beemer currently serves as chief of staff for Houston City Council Member Dave Martin. “The job I have today is my dream job,” Beemer said. “No matter the circumstances I am committed to serving the community to the best of my ability. My goal in life is to change the public’s perception of public servants. We are not all lazy and most of us do care a great deal about the communities that we serve.” Previously Beemer has interned for the National Republican Congressional Committee in the nation’s capital, worked as program assistant for the San Antonio Area Foundation and served as South Texas field director for the Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s campaign committee before moving back to Kingwood and taking a job representing Councilman Martin in summer 2014. “I get a lot of satisfaction when our office solves a problem for a constituent who is upset,” admitted Beemer, “I’ve got a file of compliments that we’ve received from our residents and when I’m having a tough day, I look at those letters and emails because, frankly, we all have days when we need a folder of warm fuzzies to cheer us up.” Since moving back to her hometown, Beemer has taken on a variety of volunteer and leadership roles. She volunteers on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo METRO Go Texan Humble/Kingwood Committee, is chairman

of the Leadership Lake Houston Alumni Board, serves on the Kingwood Area Alumnae Panhellenic Association Executive Board and serves as the treasurer of the Hot House Cookers Barbeque Cook Off team during the Humble ISD Cook Off and Rodeo. Beemer is also a member of the Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals program, Lake Houston Area Long Term Recovery Task Force and the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund Advisory Board. Beemer is always happy to lend a hand at other Chamber and community events like Chicks and Hogs. In the last year Beemer has discovered that her role as chief of staff for Councilman Martin has changed — pre-Hurricane Harvey and post-Hurricane Harvey. “We’re doing all the constituent activities we did before Harvey hit but now we also have to stay on top of Harvey recovery,” Beemer said. “Harvey added to our already full plate but, like so many other people, getting our constituents back to normal again is something that we must deal with.” Being born and raised in this community, Beemer has come to learn that what she is able to accomplish in her own backyard makes a difference every day to her constituents. “I care about our community and our citizens,” Beemer said, “because I live here and work here. My family is here. The best compliments I receive are from our constituents who begin by being upset but, in the end, are happy with what we’re able to do. I listen, I don’t argue, and I provide options for them.”

NIKOLE DAVIS From education to successful business owner, Nikole Davis, 29, is an admirable young entrepreneur who took a leap toward a dream of hers and ran with it. Davis intended to go into education when she graduated from the University of Houston “… but education took a hard hit back then. First-year teachers weren’t getting asked back. There were hiring freezes,” she said. Instead of an iffy education career, she decided to “stop just talking about it and give this whole boutique thing” a try. In summer of 2012, Davis opened the doors to her very own boutique, Pretty Little Things, in the Kings Harbor shopping center. Spring 2018 | 5

“I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” Davis confessed, “and I got quite an insight into being an owner when I interned at a Colorado boutique.” Davis is a Crosby native. She grew up there with her entrepreneurial parents, Tripp and Jennifer Davis, who run night classes, after school care and summer camps for their Karate Schools in Atascocita and Fall Creek. When Davis is not running things at her boutique, you can find her volunteering and leading throughout the community. Davis currently serves on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Go Metro Committee for Humble and Kingwood, the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Lake Houston Family YMCA Board of Directors, the Young Entrepreneur and Professional steering committee and is a graduate of the Leadership Lake Houston program. Davis was honored with the FamilyTime Woman of Achievement Entrepreneur award in 2016 and was designated as the Next Seed: Female Founder Panel in 2017. She is also a member of the Leadership Lake Houston Alumni program, the YEP program and an organization called Mother’s Against Cancer. In addition to her leadership work, Davis also gives back to the community through sponsorships to local high school programs. And when she needed the support from the community herself, she was not disappointed. Last August, Davis’ boutique had 5 feet of water rushing through its doors. “Hurricane Harvey was insanely traumatic, flooding both my home and business,” Davis said, “but I don’t want this one event to define me. While it will always be a scar I carry, I don’t want it to be my only story.” It’s an amazing story, though. Within three weeks, Pretty Little Things was up and running as a pop-up store in Atascocita. “The store has become so much more than just selling clothes,” Davis said. “I put so much into that space. I was inspired, though, by the overwhelming support.” Davis said not one person told her she couldn’t overcome Harvey, so she dug in, and started a temporary location. Almost eight months later, she returned to the Kings Harbor Shopping Center on April 14. Her shop is also online at www. “Being the boss is the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Davis said, “but I love what I get to do. I love things that bring people together and making people feel good for life’s biggest events. I get to dress people for graduations, bridal showers, birthdays and vacations. It’s so much fun to be a part of the good things in life.”

6 | Lake Houston Business Matters

TREY HILL Numbers — and finance — always fascinated Trey Hill, 40. He just wasn’t sure how to make them his chosen career path. “I was with a great company with a bright future but not much of a work-life balance,” Hill recalls. “I knew it was time for a change when I found myself married with a 2-year-old son helping a store do inventory at 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.” Ready to risk a new beginning, Hill’s own financial advisor, Jonathan Blakelock, steered him to a career at Edward Jones. “I work very hard to understand the huge array of options available to my clients,” Hill said. “It’s my responsibility to find appropriate solutions to help each individual or business reach their financial goals. I don’t gamble with their finances.” Hill’s resolve and commitment illustrate why he was selected as one of the Lake Houston Area Chamber’s 2018 Top Four Under 40. Hill is a West Nyack, New York, native who moved to the area in the early ’90s with his father and sister in time to graduate from Kingwood High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix as well as multiple field business certifications. “In my role taking care of finances for families and businesses, it’s easy to get caught up in the short-term outlook in life,” Hill said, “but life and finances aren’t a sprint. They’re a marathon and, in today’s complicated and crazy world, I believe there is true value in building and maintaining a longterm perspective.” He met his wife, Penny, working at the Sonic Drive-In in Atascocita. They have three children together. During his time in the Lake Houston Area, Hill has served on many committees with many local organizations, including the Lake Houston Area Chamber, the Lake Houston Family YMCA, Including Kids and more. He currently serves as a board member for Including Kids, is the Community Leadership Academy president and the Lake Houston Marketing Group president. Hill is a huge supporter of the Humble ISD Livestock Show and participated as one of the dancers at the Lake Houston Family YMCA Dances with Partners. He currently serves on the Kingwood BizCom

committee as well as the Leadership Lake Houston Alumni committee. His accomplishments include the Friday Morning Networking Junior Achievement award and graduating in the fourth class of the Leadership Lake Houston program. He also participates in various mentoring programs. Hill credits his family, his clients and the Lake Houston Area Chamber for the success he’s achieved. “I have a wonderful support system,” Hill said. “Penny stood with me when I changed careers and she believes in me as I continue to challenge myself. My father is my role model. He’s always been strong and showed me what a father should be. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with clients who truly see value in what I do for them.”

JASON STUEBE Jason Stuebe’s love for public service brought him to his current position of City Manager of Humble, the youngest in the city’s history. Stuebe’s can-do attitude is an understandable explanation of why he was selected as one of the Lake Houston Area Chamber’s 2018 Top Four Under 40. The Danville, Ilinois, native is a graduate of Schlarman Academy and the University of Illinois at Springfield, where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in public administration. While in school, Stuebe, 34, participated in many activities and received many awards and honors. He was student body president of his university, was in the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society and was a recipient of the Donovan Pepper Leadership Award. Previously, Stuebe also participated in the TCMA William “King” Cole Workshops, for which he received the TCMA New Professional scholarship. He also participated in the College Station Emerging Leaders Program, The Great Exchange, was a member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association Board of Directors, a graduate of the Leadership Lake Houston program and chairman of the Lake Houston Area Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals program.

“I thought I’d end up working for Illinois state government or the legislature but, well, you know the condition of government in Illinois,” Stuebe confesses, without saying more. Stuebe found himself in College Station because the other public service job he’d applied for in Austin included a scenic view of the unmovable traffic on Interstate 35. “No doubt about it, that mess on Interstate 35 convinced me that College Station was for me and my family,” Stuebe said. Stuebe honed his leadership skills in College Station, first in economic development and later as assistant to College Station’s city manager. His wife, Lindsay, however, was spending her day driving from College Station to her job in Houston. Wanting a position closer to Lindsay’s employer brought the Stuebe family to Humble “We fell in love with the area. Our jobs, the community, they’re a better fit for us,” Stuebe said. “This is where we want to be and with a couple years under my belt in College Station, I knew that a city manager position is what I really wanted to do.” Stuebe accepted the Humble city secretary position knowing that the city manager position would eventually be open. His transition to city manager will always be a memorable one. Hurricane Harvey paid Humble a visit resulting in several days away from his family, and as he was selected for his new position, the stork paid a visit too, gifting the Stuebe’s and their 3-year-old son with a little sister. “My profound advice is to never start a new job when you’re adding to your family,” Stuebe said. Currently, Stuebe serves as board member for the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, day-chair for the Leadership Lake Houston Program, is a member of the Texas City Manager’s Association, serves on the University of Illinois Alumni Association Campus Advisory Board Committee, is a Knight of Columbus and a notary public. When he needs to get away from city business, you’ll find Stuebe’s happy place is in the Stuebe kitchen creating an innovative dish or brewing his own special beer. If you wonder what a city manager really does, Stuebe says to think of him as conductor of an orchestra. “The conductor keeps the tempo and the pace. That’s what I do. I make it sound pretty,” Stuebe said with a smile. Stuebe certainly has proven himself as one of the top young professionals in the area. “I’m still learning, still developing,” Stuebe said, “still growing.”

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2 Education

urricane Harvey’s four-day rampage along the gulf coast last August was a schooling nobody wanted to learn: How much damage could more than 40 inches of rain do to a community? For the schools themselves, particularly the Lone Star College-Kingwood campus and Kingwood High School, it was less than an education, and more of a testimonial. Campus leaders, staff, faculty, students, parents and others spent much of 2017 and 2018 demonstrating what could be done when they work together to rebuild both their buildings and their communities.


How a college with only nine classrooms educated 13,000 students Of the six Lone Star College campuses, the LSC-Kingwood suffered the most damage from Hurricane Harvey. Backup from the nearby Houston City Waste Facility flowed into the first floors of six campus buildings, which not only made the firstfloor completely unusable, but also knocked out the elevators so that the second floor couldn’t be used, either. Suddenly, the number of available classrooms for 13,000 college students dropped from 113 to nine. “We had no idea what was in the water,” president of Lone Star College – Kingwood Dr. Katherine Persson said. “The 10 | Lake Houston Business Matters

flooded buildings were considered biohazards due to raw sewage. We were told that in some buildings the chemical content was strong enough to eat through furniture.” As a result, all furniture, computers, library books and health care practice dummies were thrown away. As of April, a total cost of Harvey repair has not been determined, but Persson said the college system was fortunate that it had $10 million in flood insurance. She also expects some of the funding for repairing the campus to come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The building that sustained the greatest financial damage was the Health Science Building. LSC-Kingwood is the only campus in the Lone Star College System that has a dental hygiene program, but Harvey brought water that destroyed 12 dental chairs and other equipment. In cramped quarters and aided by the president’s emergency stash of junk food, chocolate, aspirin and antacids, “the staff went to work to save the fall semester,” said David Baty, LSCKingwood vice president of instruction. They completed the schedule in only 23 days, according to Persson. Before Harvey, about 70 percent of students were taught in traditional, face-to-face classrooms, and about 24 percent took courses completely online, according to Baty. After Harvey, 62 percent took courses exclusively online, 21 percent were in traditional classrooms, and 16 percent were a combination.

With only nine usable on-campus classrooms, the LSC Kingwood administration worked with other LSC campuses to use their space, contacted local churches to rent their facilities and transformed usable spaces on campus, like the student center, to create classroom spaces. Though not ideal, the college worked through many kinks and in the end, had a higher amount of registered students than in the past. Lone Star College-Kingwood is in the process of meeting with architects to discuss reconstruction for all six buildings destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. By summer 2018, five portable buildings and the second floors of the Administration Building and the Library will create additional classrooms in time for the fall 2018 semester. All buildings are slated to reopen in January 2019. While the administration is proud to be able to get completely back to normal by 2019, they are still amazed by one statistic. Not only did the students stay enrolled in the struggling LSC-Kingwood in September 2017, but the student body actually rose — a 5 percent increase in headcount and a 2 percent increase in enrollment.

Two high schools shared a campus to save a flooded building For the Kingwood High School community, the most shocking aspect of Hurricane Harvey was not the putrid flood waters rising to the building’s second floor, the sewage and fish left in the swimming pool, or the lake that covered the orchestra pit, stage and several rows of the theater building. The most shocking thing was that the Texas Education Administration could potentially require students to be dispersed to other campuses around the district, abandoning the damaged building for the entire school year, which threatened to disrupt a community that supported the school since 1979. But neither Humble Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen nor Kingwood High School Principal Dr. Ted Landry would allow that to happen and wanted to make sure Kingwood students and staff stayed together. They knew that hundreds of families in the district were dealing with their own property damage, too. “The community was devastated, and the seniors were particularly sad,” Fagen said. “We wanted to do something to help them feel normal again.” “Our school is a huge part of the community,” Landry said. “It has more than 2,700 students, of which 80 percent belong to a club, organization or activity that make them very much a part of this community. To disband the school for a year might have meant KHS would cease to exist.” Two days after Harvey left KHS a mess, district officials were already assessing the building, and calculating the best way the district could serve its students. After weighing several options,

the district chose to convert Summer Creek High School into two schools with dual schedules. Starting Sept. 11, both schools shared the Summer Creek campus: The 2,200 Summer Creek students attended class from 7 to 11:19 a.m. and 2,700 KHS students attended class from 12:11 to 4:30 p.m. Though classroom time was practically cut in half, Landry said many teachers got creative and responded by meeting KHS students at other times. One science teacher created a twohour online class that students watched every Sunday. Other teachers held classes on Saturdays at a nearby McDonalds. Churches within a 15-mile radius of the school donated space for free for some classes. Some teachers even drove busses in the morning to drop students off at off-school sites. “The teachers did whatever was necessary to meet with students, and the students appreciated it,” Landry said. Meanwhile, the district was busy rebuilding KHS. Fagen said Humble ISD’s storm-related costs total to about $100 million. This cost includes draining the buildings, removing furniture, computers, educational equipment, doors, and other things destroyed by the flood. Drying out the buildings took 45 days. Fagen said that while the Summer Creek move was made possible by patient students, supportive parents, and an extraordinary staff that worked above and beyond their duty, it was the Humble ISD board of trustees that made sure KHS would be restored. “We have a board of trustees that was adamant about putting aside money for emergencies, so when Harvey hit, the fund balance was available,” Fagen said. “It allowed us to be able to hire contractors as soon as possible.” On March 19, the district re-opened a renovated Kingwood High School. The improvements include: • A new security vestibule in the front lobby. Visitors must speak with a receptionist before doors are unlocked for visitors to gain access past the lobby. • N ew classroom furniture, selected with the help of teacher input. The school bought furniture for the classrooms and instructional areas that is easy to move and reconfigure, to accommodate groups of various sizes. This supports collaboration and student projects. • N ew floors, new sound system and graphics, and additional electrical outlets for the gym. • R epainted and refinished floors and walls throughout the building’s bottom two stories. Construction, however, continues. The theater, swimming pool and athletic facilities are still under restoration at this time. Fagen said when she first saw the school’s damage, “I knew we would repair the building, but I didn’t think we could do it as fast as we did. People who look at the school now say, ‘How did you get so much of this done so fast? My house isn’t even repaired yet.’ I’m very proud of the team we put together.”

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Lake Houston

Area health care market shows vigor, bright future BY ROD PERLMUTTER


ealth care in the Lake Houston area shows vitality and a healthy prognosis. Expansions underway at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Kingwood Medical Center and the opening of Kingwood Emergency Center illustrate a vibrant and growing job market, additional capacity to serve an increasing population and a foundation to draw businesses and residents to the area. Lake Houston Area Economic Development Partnership President Mark Mitchell said that the area’s population growth has soared for nearly 50 years. Expansions like those at Memorial Hermann and Kingwood will help keep pace with that growth. “Now you’re starting to see the health care industry rally to meet the need,” Mitchell said. “The demand in part is driven by pockets of fairly wealthy (individuals) that can now get quality health care closer than 30 to 40 miles from their home. The duality of that is if you build it they will come, so people with less means also have access the same level of quality care.” 12 | Lake Houston Business Matters

Mitchell is working to promote the Interstate 69 corridor as a regional headquarters area, and health care growth is a key focus area. “We can begin to pivot to also attract regional companies in segments other than health care, such as information technology,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got fantastic schools and a well-established health care base.”

Kingwood Medical Center Kingwood Medical Center, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 North and Kingwood Drive, is affiliated with Hospital Corporation of America, an operator of for-profit hospitals that is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The hospital, at 22999 U.S. Highway 59 N in Kingwood, has provided quality health care to the northeast Houston area for more than 25 years. But a few years ago, it began to recognize the growing need in the community for more cardiovascular and neuroscience services.

“Our volumes have increased as we added service lines and deepened the capabilities of existing service lines,” said Melinda Stephenson, CEO of Kingwood Medical Center. “Our growth has been targeted in certain tertiary service lines to ensure our community can receive needed healthcare closer to home.” As a result, in April 2017, the hospital began a $35 million construction project that expanded the three-story South Tower to five. The fifth floor will house a new, 22-bed cardiovascular and neurosurgical intensive care unit, which will increase the hospital’s CV/Neuro ICU bed total to 54. The floor will also have a new intermediate care unit with 16 beds, increasing the campus’s IMU bed count to 60. Those beds will be filled with oncology, bariatrics and surgical patients. “The ICU will provide more space, privacy and technology for patients and allow for a step-down unit on the same floor,” Stephenson said. “Patient care will be improved and allow us to care for more patients requiring a higher level of care in our community.” In all, the new addition will boost total bed count on the campus from 373 to 411. And, if that is not enough, the tower’s new fourth floor could house an additional 38 beds. When construction is completed, the new tower floors will require an increase in hospital staff of about 60 employees. “We are proud to provide quality health care services with our comprehensive cardiac and neuroscience programs to our patients in the Lake Houston Area and surrounding communities so families can stay close to home,” Stephenson said. “We also know with cardiac and neuro emergencies, time is a critical factor in patient outcomes.”

MEMORIAL HERMANN Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital is one of the largest nonprofit health systems in southeast Texas. Its Northeast

campus, at 18951 N. Memorial Drive in Humble, is undergoing the biggest, most expensive expansion and renovation project in decades, said Josh Urban, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. “The Lake Houston Area has been underserved,” Urban said. “By building and renovating, we are keeping pace with the rapid growth of this area. “ The project has three parts: Building a new tower that can house up to 120 beds that will replace an older one built in 1983, which currently has 90. Memorial Hermann began building the new, $70 million, fivestory, 123,000-square-foot tower in July 2017 and expects it to open Dec. 21, 2018. When it opens, the hospital will move 90 patient beds from the old tower to the new one, and the old tower will be converted into hospital administrative and office space. Each patient room will be larger and more modern than those in the older building. While the new tower will begin with 90 beds, shell space will allow for an additional 30 beds as needed. Building a new second professional office building to house physician private practices and medical services. The new, four-story 100,000-square-foot building is expected to open alongside the new tower in December 2018. Renovating the Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Kingwood, which will house primary care physicians, an emergency department, an imaging center and sports medicine and rehabilitation services is expected to open in late 2018 or early 2019. If the center sounds familiar, that’s because construction was completed in 2017, and its grand opening was scheduled for Aug. 26. Health staff hoped to entertain and welcome local officials and members of the community that day. Instead, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, the center hosted 6 feet of water, which destroyed imaging equipment, computers and other equipment. The building required a total renovation costing roughly $12 million. Memorial Hermann’s new tower, to be completed Summer 2018

Spring 2018 | 13

Urban said the projects underway will help to better serve Lake Houston Area residents. “Patients who might have driven 20 miles away for certain medical services will be happy to find them here,” he said. “These new modern facilities underscore our promise to this community that will we will provide excellence in both quality care and service right here where our patients live and work.”

Kingwood Emergency Hospital On Jan. 29, the specialty hospital Kingwood Emergency Hospital opened at 23330 U.S. Highway 59 North in Kingwood. The first floor is dedicated to patient care and treatment areas with 13 treatment rooms and three inpatient beds. Additionally, a full diagnostic imaging suite is also on-site to facilitate care. Future patient care areas are slated for the second and third floors. The original investors built it in 2011, but then scrapped the project when it was 90 percent complete, so the threestory, 60,000-square-foot building was unoccupied for a number of years. A group of Houstonians, including physicians, entrepreneurs and executives with health care and facility management expertise, leased the building in 2017 and, last December, began a $500,000 renovation. The investor group was led by Physician Partner and Manager Eric McLaughlin, a Kingwood Medical Center emergency room doctor who in 2004 helped that facility increase both the number of beds and patients per day.

Kingwood Emergency Hospital opened in January.

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McLaughlin saw the long distances from the Kingwood area to other medical facilities and long waits at local hospitals as a call to action. “I’m determined that Kingwood Emergency Hospital be the go-to emergency resource for busy working families in this north Houston bedroom community,” McLaughlin said. To accomplish this, McLaughlin hopes to immerse the emergency center’s values into the community. “From free monthly CPR classes to supporting community sports and health education opportunities, we actively seek ways to encourage people who want a deeper, more personal relationship with their health care providers,” McLaughlin said. The center also offers free monthly family events to create relationship with doctors and nurses. Its special children’s room is decorated with hand-painted murals. “This furthers trust for young children experiencing emotional trauma when dealing with stitches, broken bones and sports-related injuries,” digital marketing manager Suzette Cotto said. “We go out of our way to supply creature comforts to our patients and their families while care is being rendered.” The center’s observation room has a pull-out couch for family members who want to stay with the patient, a stocked mini-fridge and free snacks. The room also has monogrammed blankets and robes, and even fluffily slippers for patients, creating a luxury-hotel atmosphere. “Of course, we are going to get you in and out without having to wait for X-rays and bloodwork,” McLaughlin said. “However, should your condition require longer observation times, we’ll pamper you while you’re in treatment.”

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LIFTING UP LAKE HOUSTON LiftFund helps small businesses hurt by Harvey get back on their feet BY JERRY LAMARTINA


ophie Macey had a big problem on her hands in the first couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last summer. Macey owns Bayou City Interpreting LLC in Humble, a company that provides language interpreting and American Sign Language services to Houston-area schools. Many Houston schools closed for more than a week starting immediately after Harvey, so her business was idle. When the schools reopened, they weren’t processing checks, so Macey couldn’t pay her contractors. A nonprofit lender called LiftFund lifted her burden. “My company at the time was only nine months old, so it was hard to find a lender,” she said. “LiftFund took a risk on me, and the money literally hit my account the day before payroll was due. Through the whole process, they were so quick and caring and easy to work with. I told my husband, Adam, that if we ever need funding we should go back to LiftFund.” Many other small businesses in need following Harvey are also turning to LiftFund. The lender is a community

Houstonians are entrepreneurial people, and they help one another. We still have a lot of work to do. We anticipate it’ll take 10 years to get back to normal. —Carolyn Watson with

development financial institution (CDFI) founded in San Antonio in 1994 as Accion Texas. It opened a Houston office in 1998, now serves 13 states and recently changed its name to LiftFund. CDFIs are supported through the CDFI Fund, established by the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994, according to The CDFI “plays an important role in generating economic growth and opportunity in some of our nation’s most distressed communities,” according to its website LiftFund provides small business loans mainly to minorities and women who don’t qualify for traditional loans. “Our focus is truly on enabling small businesses to stabilize and move forward post-Harvey,” said Richard Gianni, LiftFund’s market president for Houston and regional president for the East Texas Region. LiftFund has made 130 loans totaling $2.6 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in the 32 affected counties from the Louisiana state line to Corpus Christi, Gianni said. Eighty-

I love the impact we have and the partners we work with. We can’t do this without our partners. It is a truly massive effort, not just related to Harvey but what we do in general for small businesses.

JPMorgan Chase Bank

LiftFund took a risk on me, and the money literally hit my account the day before payroll was due. Through the whole process, they were so quick and caring and easy to work with. — Sophie Macey,

—Richard Gianni with LiftFund

owner of Bayou City Interpreting LLC in Humble

16 | Lake Houston Business Matters

one of those loans totaling $1.6 million went to Houston-area businesses, including seven loans to Lake Houston businesses. The loans were as much as $25,000 each, at no interest, and the average loan was $20,400. LiftFund’s first funding after Harvey came last September in the amount of $1 million from JPMorgan Chase Bank, $150,000 from Goldman Sachs and $150,000 from Groupon, Gianni said. A second phase of post-Harvey loans is underway through June 30, supported by a $5 million, interest-free loan from Goldman Sachs and a $2 million grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund through the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which included interest-free and risk-mitigation funding for struggling businesses. A third funding phase could be on the horizon. LiftFund modified its vetting of applicants for some funding after Harvey, in agreement with Goldman Sachs, in an effort to ease the process for distressed businesses. Helping small businesses regain and keep a solid grounding is LiftFund’s mission. Since its inception, it has funded more than 19,000 small business loans worth $260 million. In Houston, each of those dollars has a $22 economic impact, Gianni said. “CDFIs are designed to fill the gap from a lending perspective left open when banks can’t say yes,” he said. “With a disaster like Harvey, every one of the loans we’re making is a drop in the bucket, but at the end of the day it’s 130 businesses that wouldn’t have made it any other way.” Carolyn Watson, JPMorgan Chase’s vice president of global philanthropy, praised the community’s leadership in organizing and informing government officials, civic leaders and community stakeholders “about what’s needed for elected officials to do.” “Houstonians are entrepreneurial people, and they help one another,” Watson said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We anticipate it’ll take 10 years to get back to normal.”

Jennifer Dale, LiftFund’s vice president of loan administration, said LiftFund has a responsibility to create an impact in the community. “That allows us to be nimble and responsive when traditional institutions have to be a little more concerned about the risk they’re taking on,” she said. Not all businesses seeking loans will qualify, of course, regardless of the type of lender involved. In the aftermath of Harvey, increased empathy for those in need has helped Anthony Lopez, LiftFund’s senior business development officer, find creative ways to help businesses in need. “I’ve been in banking and finance for 30-plus years, and (Harvey’s aftermath) has been the most challenging but most rewarding part of my career,” he said. “A lot of these businesses lost equipment, their business facility or their homes, or all three, and they lost key clients. They haven’t given up, and they’ve thought outside the box for coming up with revenue. It’s forced me to have more empathy. I feel like I’ve become a ‘psycho-financial’ therapist. For every sad story, there are 10 good stories, so that keeps you going.”

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TAKING CARE OF CUSTOMERS Serna Insurance Agency, Inc. helps people solve their property and casualty insurance needs BY STEVE HALE PHOTOS BY HOPE PHOTOGRAPHY

20 | Lake Houston Business Matters


housands of east Texas homeowners and their insurance companies were in crisis mode in 2001. An increase in homeowner claims involving mold damage and a landmark court settlement prompted insurance companies to restrict homeowner mold coverage in Texas or, in many instances, stopped writing homeowner policies in the state. The husband-wife team of Pete and Martha Serna, both veterans of the insurance industry, had the fortitude and the courage to come to the rescue. Serna Insurance Agency was founded in the study of the Sernas’ home in Humble.

Immediately, the agency began providing homeowners coverage to residents in the Lake Houston Area. Actually, it was Martha who did the “starting.” At the time, Pete was two years away from retirement from a stellar, awardwinning career with Liberty Mutual Insurance, where he and Martha first met. Martha’s professional career also started in insurance, but at the time of the Texas mold crisis she was a flight attendant with Continental Airlines. When the World Trade Center attack impacted the airline industry, Martha accepted Continental’s offer to take an extended-but-temporary paid leave. That’s when Serna Insurance was formed. - Continued on next page

Spring 2018 | 21

“When the Lord shuts a door, he opens a window,” Pete said. “Martha started the agency, and in one year she wrote $1.3 million in business. I saw the writing on the wall. When I retired (from Liberty Mutual) two years later, I joined her.” Today the home-grown Serna Insurance Agency is among the premiere independent insurance agencies in Texas and one of the Lake Houston Area’s most prominent corporate citizens. Serna Insurance represents 40-plus carriers, manages $35 million in annual premiums for more than 20,000 customers, employs 35 and has offices in San Antonio and Albuquerque in addition to its handsome landmark headquarters building in Humble. To say Serna Insurance is engaged with the Lake Houston Area community would be an understatement. Both Pete and Martha are individually involved with a variety of civic organizations and are active in the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. The agency sponsors a rodeo cook-off and youth soccer, football, baseball and swim teams. In 2010, having hired an autistic student, the Serna agency started the annual Autumn’s Dawn Golf Tournament and ultimately raised more than $1 million for that local charity. High-profile sponsorships are big for Serna Insurance Agency in 2018. The agency will become the primary sponsor for the 2018 Lake Houston 10K 5K, an event expected to attract 1,000 participants. In addition, Serna Insurance Agency sponsors the Texan Live Scholarship Classic, a fundraising golf tournament that will result in granting $5,000 individual scholarships to graduating seniors at each of the area’s nine high schools. “We believe in giving back to the people who made us successful and who helped us,” Pete said. “We do all we can to give back.” Owners Martha and Pete Serna.

22 | Lake Houston Business Matters

Both Pete and Martha started in the insurance industry at a young age. Pete is from Albuquerque and attended the ­University of New Mexico, where he was an All-American in track. He joined Liberty Mutual right after graduation. Martha grew up in a small Ozarks town in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri and moved to New Mexico at age 19. She began her insurance career first as an underwriter and then as a claims adjuster. She eventually earned a degree in business administration from Sam Houston State University. The two share a similar take on what it takes to be successful in the insurance business. They’re very conscious of hiring and keeping quality people. They take special pride in being the winner of the Houston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work award in 2014. “We try to hire great people who share our values and our visions,” Martha said. Certainly both understand – as they did in 2001 – the importance of taking care of customers. According to Martha, first and foremost is never taking advantage of anybody. Being part of the Lake Houston Area community, where they know just about everyone, means they’re intent to do what’s in the best interest of customers, whom they consider friends and neighbors. The proof is when it comes to the agency being able to help people solve their property and casualty insurance needs, Pete said. “Harvey rolls in and we did a good job,” he said. “Our clients had coverage. We had advised them correctly. That, to me, is what it’s all about. We’re in a great business to help people. It’s very fulfilling.”

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Maria Mikhataykina Director Clinical Nicholas Stander •●Owner of of Stander & Operations, Company Kingwood Medical Center the course ofconsiders his career,her Nicholas Stander aria ver Mikhataykina has worked at small, upbringing in a small townclosely in theheld businesses and big, publicly traded so he’s middle of Russia an advantage. companies, She familiar with the characteristics of both. learned at a young age to recognize opportunity Stander is originally from it St. whenever Bernard, Louisiana, just and, more important, to seize outside New Orleans. He moved to Houston in 2001 after possible. fromthings Tulane when University withare a “Igraduating jump into others bachelor’s degree in management and a dualsometimes not so willing,” Mikhataykina said. focus MBA in management nance.If you “That’s what I really like aboutand thefiUSA. In 2013, he and hishave wife, really want something, you can it.” Emily Stander, founded Stander & Company, a That mindset ultimately steered business services fi rm designed to support Mikhataykina to Kingwood Medical Center, entrepreneurs. company offers tax where since AprilThe 2016 she has served payroll, as services, director bookkeeping, of clinical accounting, operations. Her commercial insurance, personal insurance responsibilities include program development, streamlining and consulting. processes and compliance. Mikhataykina also believes it is “We strive forany a partnership with each her duty to address disconnect people may have with the of our clients to help their businesses processes, procedures and advanced technologies found in succeed,” Nicholas Stander said. “We saw today’s hospitals. an opportunity to bring entrepreneurs “My goal is to make suretoour neighborhood understands the best of both worlds. There’s a happy why certain things happen in the hospital,” she said. “I want to medium of taking a big-company structure make sure they know their health is our number-one priority. thenurses flexibility a small business.” We but havehaving amazing andofphysicians doing all they can to The Standers have three children: Caroline, age 12; take care of patients’ needs effectively and efficiently.” Samuel, 9; and Patrick, 4. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Mikhataykina came to Texas in In international January 2013, theirstudent middle child, Sam was 2007 as an business before transitioning diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. DMD is a her studies to health care. She enrolled in the EMT-Basic 100 percent fatal, genetic muscular disorder characterized program at Lone Star College-Kingwood en route to becoming by progressive muscular weakness. a paramedic, and then in latedegeneration 2010 earned and a bachelor’s degree The month following their child’s diagnosis, the in nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington. She experienced great pride becoming a “real nurse,” especially when able to work in a cardiovascular intensive care unit helping patients recover from open heart surgery.


28 | Lake Houston Business Matters 26

Standers started “It a foundation called Soldiers was challenging andSam’s energizing at the and have organized community events to raise money same time,” Mikhataykina said. to help find a cureThe forrigor the disease. So with far, they’ve raised associated becoming a nurse $130,000. caused her to put her desire to have a business In addition to the foundation theyburner, started,but thenot Standers degree on the back for long. also participateShe in was or support the Lake Houston compelled to finish what sheArea started Chamber of Commerce’s board time of to and, while working as a nurse, found directors; the St. Mary Magdalene earn an executive MBA in 2013 through Texas school University. board and church; Humble Area Woman’s Assistance Ministries Finance Board; “Being a paramedic, a bedside nurse Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and having a business degree all aligned Duchenne Research; Women of with– my career goals,” Mikhataykina said. Achievement; and the Houston “That background pushed me into the more Livestockside Show & Rodeo. operational of health care.” The Lake Houston “feeling Mikhataykina appreciates both the Area’s challenges andof the community reminds me of home,” he said. rewards of her work. Overhearing appreciative comments “The area has brought us in to from patients give her great satisfaction. She placesthe much and made us abeing part part of theoffamily. value in Kingwoodfold Medical Center the HCA are in ithaving together and hopeoftotechnology do our Healthcare SystemWe and thus resources small part to make the area great.” and expertise that allows physicians and nurses to provide Stander likes to spend time with his the best of care. family his spare timeprimary and playfocus guitar, Mikhataykina likes to in travel but her away woodworking and lots of reading. from work is with family. She credits husband Yuriy for He loves his work he lovesThe what supporting her career and herbecause civic involvement. couple entrepreneurs do. have a 3-year-old daughter, Alexeandra, and a 1-year-old son, “Our passion is for entrepreneurship, and we get to be Alexey. a part it each day,” said.Mikhataykina said, laughing. “Weofhave Alex and he Alex,” “Small business is an absolutely critical of the local Home for the Mikhataykina family is part in Kingwood after economy and we are lucky enough to help to make it thrive living in other parts of the Houston metro. in our community. How much better could it get?” “Kingwood was my first home when I moved to the United States,” Mikhataykina said. “The trees were everywhere and it was so beautiful. I will never forget that.”


Mark Executive Director,Hermann BerkeleyNortheast Eye Center NoelMicheletti Cardenas ●• COO of Memorial fterinches spending moreinthan 30house years in the military, hirty of water one’s J. Cárdenas searched a job that aligned hasNoel a way of putting a newfor spin with the values that became important to him on priorities. Mark Micheletti can during his long years of service to this country. In August attest. 2015, Cardenas became viceMicheletti president of operations The home of Mark and the Jenny foramong Memorial Northeast Hospital. was the Hermann 16,000 homes in the Lake “As I was transitioning from the Houston Area affected by Hurricane military Harvey. when I retired, I was looking for a health care system that had similar Even though located in a seemingly safe values and focus toward patients and 500-year floodplain, 85 percent of the homesserving them,” said. “It’s been a good took and smooth transition in Cardenas the Michelettis’ neighborhood on because my beliefs and values are very close to the values water. Fortunate to have flood insurance, the I got in the military and my upbringing: service to others, Michelettis were able to get their house back integrity honor.”short amount of time. together in aand relatively Cárdenas is a distinguished Mark Michelitti recognizes a military long-termgraduate of the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in biology, solution to the area’s susceptibility to flooding will not happen and he received a master’s in health administration from as quickly. Effective flood prevention will be a much longer Baylor University. process and involve collaboration from public and private Cardenas spenttomore than years on active duty in the sectors. He’s willing be part of27 that process. U.S. Army’s medical service corps, advancing through the “The viability of this community depends on this not ever ranks and retiring as a colonel. He had three combat stints happening again,” Michelitti said. “You can hope someone else Operation Desert Storm and it two tours yourself.” in Iraq. He also willindo it or get involved and make happen spent three years with Governor the Texas National Guard.appointed In February, Texas Greg Abbott From his military service to his health care service, Michelitti to the board of the San Jacinto River Authority. Cárdenas keeps clear goals in mind. Michelitti had been encouraged to submit an application I’ve board transitioned Memorial Northeast, to the“As SJRA by his to peers at the Hermann Lake Houston Area the main thing I want is for our patients to have a positive, Chamber of Commerce and others involved with post-Harvey memorable experience andHe to trust us,” said. to long-range recovery efforts. agreed it Cardenas was important Cárdenas is involved in numerous local organizations, have downstream representation on the SJRA. including Greater HoustonArea YMCA board Stepping upasonabehalf of theLake Lake Houston community and for the Michelitti. Greater Lake Houston American is member nothing new In the 20 years he hasHeart been Association Heart Walk chairman. He is also currently executive director of Berkeley Eye Center, he has served on in the Lake program, organizations. facilitated by behalf of aLeadership variety of civic andHouston community-based


the Lake Houston He Area is currently chairman of the Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce. Economic Development Partnership and is Cárdenas past is 52. chairman and current board member of He was born and Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. the Lake raised in Weslaco, In light of Hurricane Harvey, Michelitti is Texas. He and his proud of his Chamber involvement. especially wife, Cristi Cárdenas, “The Chamber leadership has been have been married outstanding,” he said. “They’ve really tried to 28 years. Thebe have a voice for the community, both business two sons, Andrew andand residential.” He said the recovery effort Noah, and a daughter, is far from over and credits the Chamber with Kristian — allaggressively three assisting businesses and “keeping “Army brats,” he said. on the radar.” recovery His desire to work Having grown up just down the coast in in health started considers himself a “local boy.” He Texas City,care Michelitti as a young majored in child. accounting at Stephen F. Austin State University “One of his myprofessional uncles was career a doctor and another was aHe and began in public accounting. pharmacist,” said. “My and deepest passion isfor joined BerkeleyCardenas Eye Center in 1997 is responsible taking care of people and serving them. I learned that development, recruitment and the day-to-day operations from my dad.” of the company. It’s no small task. Berkeley Eye Center has With his20roots in Texas, is truly no other more than locations in thethere Greater Houston area place with its he would want to settle after his military administrative offices in the his Lakefamily Houston area. service. While work and community service are high on Michelitti’s “I love Texas, and I’ve grown to lovecloser [the Lake Houston priority list, his passions are centered to home. He is Area],” Cardenas said. “The most important piece the an avid snow skier and enjoys tennis, hunting andisalmost people. The biggestHe thing made mebeen realize it was33 after anything outdoors. andthat Jenny have married years [Hurricane] Harvey and the devastation in the Houston and have two married sons. Best of all, Micheletti notes, is area, and how the community has come together and getting to to besee a grandparent. the“We outpouring of help for one another. It really reminded love spending time with family,” he proudly said. me a lotgrandparents of the military life, where “Being is pure joy.” regardless of where you were assigned in the U.S. or overseas, it was family taking care of family.”

Winter Spring 2018 | 27 29

Tony Klaus ●Bonton General• Manager, H-E-B Kingwood Michelle Principal & Founder of The Rhodes School Michelle Bonton • Principal & Founder of The Rhodes School Houstonian Michelle knew when y all ative indication, Tony Klaus hasBonton spent his entire she was a middle schooler that she wanted ative Houstonian Bonton knewBut when professional career in Michelle the grocery business. he to start a school of her own. was a middle schooler that she wanted to begsshe to differ. inspiration from Cicelymost Tyson’s a school of came her own. “I’mBonton’s in thestart people business,” Klaus said. actress “What I enjoy is portrayal of Chicago schoolteacher Marva Collins in Bonton’s inspiration came from actress Cicely Tyson’s the impact I have on people and they have on me. This businessthe 1981 movie, “Theon Marva Collins portrayal Chicago schoolteacher Marva Collins in the is beyond theof product the shelf. It’sStory.” a connection.” “Out of the detours of having a child prior to finishing 1981 movie, Marva Collins Story.” Klaus most “The certainly has a deep-rooted connection to the high back and then going “Outschool, of the dropping detours ofout, having a child prior tofamily finishing Kingwood community. A native ofcoming Baytown, Klaus and are to college, I became a teacher, a school counselor, an assistant high school, dropping out, coming back and then going to here by choice. Having worked his way up the managerial ladder principal and a principal,” Bonton said. college, became Co., a teacher, a schoolrequested counselor, assistant with H-E-BI Grocery he personally theanmanager’s Inoriginal 2007, founded The Rhodes and aBonton principal,” Bonton said. jobprincipal at the H-E-B Kingwood location on Kingwood Drive. School, a of fine magnetaspirations charter school Inaware 2007, Bonton founded The Rhodes He was thearts company’s to build an impressive with art, dance, drama and classical School, a fine arts magnet charter school new H-E-B across the street and hoped to be in charge of that music part ofdrama its core with art,itasopened. dance, andcurriculum. classical store when The school’s foundational music as partwhat of happened. its core principles curriculum. That’s exactly But as fateare would have it, Klaus scholarship, leadership and citizenship. school’s principles hasThe now openedfoundational H-E-B Kingwood twice.are The grand opening of The tuition-free school’s flagship leadership and citizenship. thescholarship, 105,000-square-foot market wascampus in October 2016. Then is in Humble with additional TheHurricane tuition-free school’s flagship campus came Harvey. The store’scampuses grand re-opening was this the greater Houston area. is across in Humble with additional campuses past January. “The mission of the school is toH-E-B Kingwood across the from greater Houston area. Flooding Harvey totally destroyed produce critical thinkers who “The mission of the school is to when six feet of water inundated the store.have the ability to lead, to be academically produce thinkers who have said about viewing “It lookedcritical like a bomb had gone off,” Klaus well prepared and have strong ability to for lead, betime. academically thethe flood damage theto first “It was mass destruction. The character,” “There’s acases lot off the floor and well andsaid. strong water wasprepared so highBonton it lifted the have refrigerated of conversation with the kids and the character,” Bonton said. “There’s a lot dumped them over.” parents personal responsibility, of conversation the when kids and the Klaus said about his firstwith thought seeing the destruction inside the role you must play in your was ownthat success andcould how be that personal responsibility, theparents market about after the waters receded nothing success is right. related to theinsuccess of all.” the role you mustRebuilding play your own success that saved. He was required the store and to behow emptied The students do a lot of community performances success is related to the success of all.” all the way to the floor. Kraus said the H-E-B corporate officeso that they may and “understand that their and Theresources students do energies a lot of to community performances so devoted help thegifts store get skills back have on an economic value,” Bonton said. “We teach them how may “understand that their giftsbyand haveall itsthat feet they and to make sure employees affected the skills temporary different artopportunity forms have principles related to each core anthese economic value,” Bonton said. “We teach them how all closing were provided to work. subject area.” these different art forms have principles related to each core In a Herculean effort, H-E-B Kingwood to re-opened in less subject area.” received a bachelor’s degree in professional than fiveBonton months.


Bonton bachelor’swas degree in professional “We knew received what the acommunity up against; we knew what we were up against,” said Klaus. “Getting the store back up was important to the community. We did everything we could to reopen as quickly as possible.”

28 30 | Lake | Lake Houston Houston Business Business Matters Matters 30 | Lake Houston Business Matters

writing University There from was the obviously no of Houston-Downtown and a master’s in counseling from View A&M University. writing from University of Houston-Downtown and She a preparing fortheHarvey, butPrairie is currently working on a master’s degree in school leadership master’sGrocery in counseling from Prairie View A&M University. She H-E-B Co. seems to Stephen F. Austin and plans to start a is at currently on aState master’s degree in school leadership have had theworking right manager for University doctoral program in education policy at Lamar University. at Stephen F. Austin State University and plans to start a its Kingwood store during the Bonton is a member of the Greater Houston doctoral program in education recovery. Klaus was groomed policy at Lamar University.Black Chamber of Commerce’s AffairsHouston Committee; Bonton the Greater Black a for the job. is a member of Public volunteer with the East Harris Affairs CountyCommittee; Empowerment Chamber Commerce’s Public a He grewofup involved with Council; and a 23-year member of Living Word Fellowship volunteer with the East Harris County Empowerment his father’s grocery business Church, where she is aWord women’s ministry Council; 23-year member of Living Fellowship and tookand to a the profession leader, Sunday school teacher and Church, where she is a women’s ministry early. While still in high school, special events coordinator. She also is a leader, Sunday school teacher and he took vocational classes to be former youth Bible study teacher at her special events coordinator. She also is a a meat cutter and quickly found church. former youth Bible study teacher at her a job after graduation. While Bonton is independent a former member the the young Klaus waschurch. working for an groceryof store, North Channel Chamber ofByCommerce, Bonton is atoformer member of20, thehe a friend of his father’s recruited him join H-E-B. age a former public policy analyst for North Channel Chamber of Commerce, was managing the meat department and was then promotedFox to Houston andbeing a analyst former volunteer a News former public policy for in Fox manager, responsible for hiring staff and involved the education policy for Texas News Houston and aspecialist former volunteer opening of new stores. Legislative District 142 during the 83rd education policy specialist for Texas H-E-B moved Klaus into a leadership training program, a legislative session. Legislative District 142 during the 83rd four-year process that Klaus mastered in 16 months. “I got my Bonton has three children, session. keys to my first storelegislative and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Richard, 34, who’s running for the District 142 seat Bonton has threehechildren, For five of Klaus’s 27 years with H-E-B, worked asRichard, a regional in the House ofDistrict Representatives, 34, who’s running the 142 seat supervisor responsible for 28 Texas stores. Hefor enjoyed the position but and Brandon, 32, a naval officer and in the Texas House of Representatives, the driving – 50,000 miles a year – ultimately resulted in Klaus graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy; and Brandon, 32, a to naval officer and asking to return to store management, and H-E-B Kingwood. Ashley Miller, 29, a speech language pathologist; and seven graduateforofme,” theKlaus U.S. said. Naval Academy; “This area is the ‘normal’ “This is family. grandchildren. Bonton and her I’m husband, Ellis have Miller, 29,and a speech language pathologist; and aseven IAshley enjoy the people the weather. fortunate toBonton, have career been married for 32 years. grandchildren. Bonton and her husband, Ellis Bonton, have with H-E-B and be close to home.” In her spare time, Bonton loves read studyhave the been married for 32 years. Klaus’ own family is also nearby. He“to and wifeand Sandra word of God and spend time with my husband.” her kids, sparefour time, Bonton and loves “to read and study twoIn grown grandsons a granddaughter on thethe way. am to positively impact theand lives of children,” word“Iof Godcalled andto spend time my Klaus would like have morewith time forhusband.” golf a bit of fishing, said. “It is time my purpose inthe and passion, “I am able called to positively impact lives of my children,” butBonton being to spend with family islife fine with him. starting with my own kids.” Bonton said. “It my purpose in life andsaid myispassion, Then there’s theisH-E-B family, which Klaus key to the starting with my own kids.” deep appreciation he has for being in the people business. “Doing this like I have for so long, you realize it’s not about you as much it is about helping others,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a ton of folks who have come out of my stores and been successful. That’s what makes it fun.”

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Spring 2018 | 29

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30 | Lake Houston Business Matters