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NSIDE Coastal Bend Business

JUNE.JULY 2012

Making the Difference JOE RODRIGUEZ and FRED REYES

STYLE & SUBSTANCE FEATURING DANIELLE CATHERINE DODSON

FASHION HEAVEN LE’VU BOUTIQUE

Leading a Landmark JASON O. GREEN

Reaching for the Stars

DR. STEVEN H. TALLANT N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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Long Family Commitment to South Texas Personal Commitment to My Customers Call us today and find out how much you can save! Farmers offers Auto, Home, Commercial and Life Insurance.

Ruben Bonilla Insurance Agency

2727 Morgan Ave, Ste 300 Corpus Christi, Texas 78405

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361.881.1033

www.RubenBonillaInsurance.com


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co-publisher’s note NSIDE Coastal Bend Business - June/July 2012

PUBLIC ATIONS

Are you frustrated with the lack of results you get from networking? Are you starting to feel that networking is a waste of time or that it just doesn’t work?  Well, it does work. Before you starting thinking ‘oh sure,’ you need to realize that networking is how a company like NSIDE is where it is today. If it worked for us, it can work for you. So why isn’t networking working for you? Here are some reasons you aren’t getting the results you want. Ever tried to have a long-distance relationship? It’s difficult, isn’t it? Building relationships of any kind takes regular interaction, which builds familiarity and leads to trust. In business, building a foundation of trust means you are likely to do business with one another and feel more confident in referring others. Take a hard look at how much networking you do. For the most accurate picture of your networking activities, write down every event, activity and interaction you have in a month. Is your monthly activity less than two events, only a handful of contacts with your existing network and fewer than four new contacts? If so, you are not doing enough to stay consistently visible and deepen relationships. There is no magic number of activities, but a lot can happen if you just show up. Work on increasing your activities to a consistent level before you focus on anything else. Do you network with the expectation that you are going to get something every time? If you don’t give first, people will see you as a salesperson, not a networker. We might think we are giving, but sales materials and an invitation to a marketing presentation don’t count. You must give to others in a way that doesn’t benefit you. “Wait a minute,” you say. “How am I supposed to make a living if I give it all away?” First, you’re not necessarily giving away your products. The way to make money in business today is information, resources and referrals. Second, networking is all about developing relationships. If you have a reputation as a helpful person who is a resource and a referrer, people will want to do business with you and they will want their friends to do business with you. You will benefit from giving. Another way we become inefficient with our networking is spending too long with people we know at networking events. Certainly you must say hello and acknowledge them, but especially at general, open activities, you should focus on getting to know new people. Do you follow up with everyone, whether or not you think there’s business to be done? Like me, you probably have the best of intentions to send an email or make a quick call, but as the days pass, it seems less relevant. The saying goes, “the fortune is in the follow-up,” but following up is probably one of the hardest parts of networking to consistently implement. We’re simply overwhelmed by the volume of work that needs our immediate attention. Try creating the simplest system you can think of to follow up. If your system is complicated, follow-up won’t happen. Adopt a “do it now” philosophy so you won’t have to worry about it later. If you are struggling to see the value in networking, there are methods you can use to fine-tune your activities and habits. Choose one item at a time to work on until you are ready to tackle another. As you start making changes, you’ll begin to see better results in your networking. Your successes will motivate you to keep improving your networking skills until you are enjoying a great return on your networking investment. I encourage you to attend one of our monthly mixers – and to grow your business.

publisher / Eliot Garza

eliot@nsidesa.com

co-publisher / corpus christi / adrian Garza

adrian@getnside.com

co-publisher / san antonio / joe cox

joe@getnside.com

co-publisher / austin / angela strickland

angela@getnside.com

staff editor

contributing writers

Erin O’Brien

Mandy Ashcraft Kim Bridger Christina Cisneros Gerald Flores Adam Hinojosa Chris Hudson Samantha Koepp Juan de Lascurain Connie Laughlin Jody Joseph Marmel Don Overbagh Kristi Pena Adolfo Pesquera Richard M. Rector Sharon Schweitzer Rebekah Sillman Sarah Tindall

creative director Elisa Giordano

executive assistant Natalie Barton

photography Dustin Ashcraft Edgar de la Garza Robin Jerstad

editorial intern Desiree Johnson

www.getnside.com For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email adrian@getnside.com. For editorial comments and suggestions, please email joe@getnside.com.

PUBLIC ATIONS

Adrian Garza

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18402 U.S. Highway 281 N, Ste. 201 San Antonio, Texas 78259 Phone: 210.298.1761

Copyright © by NSIDE Magazine Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited.


nsidethisissue june/july 2012 cover story

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dr. steven h. tallant

With a storied career in education and the military and a passion for higher education, the president of Texas A&M UniversityKingsville energizes the university and strives for academic excellence.

profiles 32

Le’vu Boutique At this trendy Coastal Bend boutique, owner and fashionista Crystal Torres ensures her clients not only enjoy some fun and fresh retail therapy, but also can, in fact, have it all.

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Jason O. Green The head of the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds maintains the valuable economic generator’s status as a focal point of community with a wide variety of events and top-notch customer service.

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Joe Rodriguez and Fred Reyes The partners give South Texas businesses the advantage by helping them protect their computer systems from potential disasters with their innovative offerings at Site B Data Services and Nuboso.

departments

cover story | dr. steven h. tallant

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Feature Travel Dine Etiquette Tech Real Estate Drive Español Style & Substance

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pen your memoirs, journal your life, write your novel. WE CELEBRATE our local authors by offering poetry readings and book-signing events. WE ENCOURAGE new writers and established writers through workshops. WE STRENGTHEN our students by tutoring in essays and school papers. WE ARE THE ONLY local writing studio open daily to our writers.

nside coastal bend staff eliot garza

nside PUBLICATIONS publisher C: 210.373.2599 O: 210.298.1761 E: eliot@nsidesa.com

STORYWRITER’S STUDIO

“Where Your Stories Matter” 1243 Nile Dr. • Corpus Christi, TX 78412 (361) 815-5438 • www.StoryWriterStudio.com

F come write with us! F

joe cox

nside san antonio co-publisher O: 210.298.1761 E: joe@getnside.com

erin o’brien

nside PUBLICATIONS EDITOR O: 210.298.1761 E: erin@getnside.com

elisa giordano

“WHERE FRAMING IS AN ART”

nside PUBLICATIONS creative director C: 646.280.8785 E: elisa@getnside.com

natalie barton 5503 SOUTH STAPLES ST. CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 78411 361.991.4967 FAX: 361.991.2361 TOLL FREE: 866.991.4967 WWW.THEFRAMEUPCC.COM

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nside coastal bend executive assistant C: 361.228.1443 E: natalie@getnside.com


CORPUS CHRISTI 4639 Corona, Ste. 1., Corpus Christi, TX 78411 Phone 361.855.5627 Fax 361.851.2234

CORPUS CHRISTI Medical Openings: Registered Nurses for travel and local assignments Licensed Vocational nurses for travel and local assignments Certified medical assistants General Positions: Diesel Mechanics • Automated Drafters and Blue Prints • Fire and Alarm Technicians Accountants • Compliance Officers • Administrative positions Skilled and Unskilled labor positions

www.advtemp.com N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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Coastal Bend advisory board

Wayne Lytle is general manager for Lithia Dodge, a Dodge automobile dealership located in Corpus Christi. Lytle is a longtime resident of the Coastal Bend region who has more than 23 years of experience in the automobile business. Prior to becoming the general manager for Lithia Dodge in December 2005, Lytle worked as the truck sales manager for John Creveling, owner of Creveling Dodge. Lytle’s current responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the dealership’s sales, service, parts, body shop and office operations. He also holds a position on the board of directors for the Texas Dodge Dealers Advertising Association.

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Ruben Bonilla is the owner of Ruben Bonilla Insurance Agency with Farmers Insurance Group. In 2005, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas - Austin. Since opening his business doors in 2007, Bonilla has grown his business by selling home, auto, commercial and life insurance products to the Corpus Christi community and surrounding areas. In addition, he is on the Corpus Christi Literacy Council, and he is a board member for the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and he volunteers as a mentor for the Big Brother/ Big Sister organization. The Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce recognized Bonilla in 2008 by awarding him with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for his accomplishments in growing his business and helping contribute to developing the Corpus Christi community. Bonilla’s goal is to make sure that his clients and their families are taken care of in the event that life throws them a curve ball by providing friendly and informative customer service.

Carol A. Scott, APR, PRSA fellow, is a principal in Kailo Communications Studio. She has worked as a sole practitioner and small agency owner since 1995 following positions with the American Heart Association and the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority. She is past president of the Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA) and past chairman of the Public Relations Foundation of Texas. In 2004, she was named the recipient of Golden Spur award, TPRA’s highest individual honor. She was inducted into the Public Relations Society of America’s College of Fellows in 2005. She is also a past chair of the Universal Accreditation Board for Public Relations that oversees the accreditation process. She is president of the Corpus Christi Independent School District Board of Trustees and serves as a board member for the Corpus Christi Education Foundation, the Corpus Christi Ballet and the Coastal Bend Diabetes Initiative. Scott has served as chair and co-chair for numerous organizations. Scott is a graduate of Texas A&M University – Kingsville. She and her husband, Mark, are active members of Parkway Presbyterian Church and the Coastal Bend community, and they have two children: Christopher and Alexandra.

Jim Salamenta is the general manager of the SMG-managed American Bank Center. Originally from Newington, Conn., he attended Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and began his career at the O’Neill Center in Connecticut in 1994 with OGDEN Entertainment. Salamenta moved to Corpus Christi in July 2006 to oversee all aspects of the Operations Department at American Bank Center. In May 2010, he was promoted to general manager of Corpus Christi’s premier event center, where he actively seeks opportunities to boost the venue’s convention center and concert bookings. During his 17 years of experience, Salamenta has worked with the world’s biggest event promoters, producers and artists at a total of four buildings around the nation. He continues to build American Bank Center’s reputation as the entertainment mecca in Corpus Christi. At the helm of the most architecturally pleasing venue in South Texas, Salamenta sees great potential in Corpus Christi, a city he calls a “diamond in the rough.”

John Valls holds a BBA in Marketing from Sam Houston State University and an MBA from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. He is a principal with Valls Consulting Group (VCG), a business development and public affairs consultancy. VCG specializes in business development and public affairs for various clients in a wide array of industries, as well as provides marketing and advertising services. Valls has served as an adjunct professor at Del Mar College, the University of the Incarnate Word and Park University NAS, instructing in the areas of marketing and management. He has served his community on several boards, including the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross - Coastal Bend Chapter, the Del Mar College Foundation and the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority. On a statewide level, he serves on the Texas Transit Association Board of Directors, and nationally, he serves as chairman of AAPA’s Public Relations Committee. Valls is a past chair of the Leadership Corpus Christi Alumni Association and Board of Governors. In 2008, he was honored as the Leadership Corpus Christi Alumni of the Year.

Trey McCampbell is the chief administrative officer of American Bank and chairman of the board for the Board of Regents for Del Mar College. McCampbell’s family has deep roots in the Coastal Bend, and he has been involved in community and business affairs for more than 30 years. He graduated from Del Mar College with an A.A. degree and from Texas A&I University Corpus Christi with his BBA. He later received his MBA from Corpus Christi State University. He is a certified public accountant. McCampbell currently serves on the boards of the Art Museum of South Texas, South Texas Public Broadcasting and the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. He has previously served on the boards of the CCSU Alumni Association, the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, the Creative Arts Center, the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Development Corporation and the Harbor Playhouse. McCampbell has been instrumental in several community initiatives, including Destination Bayfront and Vision 2000. He is an active member of Leadership Corpus Christi as a graduate of Class XI, general chair of Class XXI and 2005 honoree of the Leadership Corpus Christi Outstanding Alumnus Award. He was also selected as the 2003 Caller Times Person of the Year and as one of Del Mar College’s 75 Distinguished Alumni in 2010.

Bart Braselton is the executive vice president of Braselton Homes, the Coastal Bend’s oldest and largest homebuilder and neighborhood developer. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Braselton is the third generation of Braseltons building in the Bay area. Returning to Corpus Christi after earning a BBA in Finance, as well as a BBA in Real Estate, from the University of Texas - Austin, Braselton began working in the family business as a construction superintendent. Braselton Homes has since grown into one of the nation’s “top 200” builders, earning consistent rankings in the annual list compiled by Builder Magazine. Braselton, a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class 18, has served on many local community and business committees and boards, including positions with the Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Bayfest, the American Heart Association, the Builders Association of Corpus Christi and the CCISD Boundary Committee. Most recently, Braselton began serving as the vice president of the Board for the Citizens in Support of the Corpus Christi Police Department, a foundation envisioned by the police chief to support the men and women of the CCPD. Braselton and his wife, Michelle, are active church members at Corpus Christi’s Bay Area Fellowship.


Live BIG.

Mirador Smile: 3.19”

Average Smile: 2.38”

We all know everything is bigger in Texas. That’s just the way it is. But what you may not realize is that life gets even bigger at Mirador, Corpus Christi’s only Life Care senior living community. When you live with the confidence that comes from knowing you have priority access to health care for life, regardless of what may happen, every day can be a big day.

Now Open: The Next BIG Thing!

With an attitude and architecture that reflects the coastal style of the area, Mirador brings a new approach to senior living to Corpus Christi: Maintenance-free living in spacious and comfortable apartment homes; a variety of dining options to choose from daily; great friends and wonderful neighbors to socialize with; and a full calendar of events and activities. on si and a lively discus Join us for lunch Live large without going large: find out nior living. Learn on the trends in se it ce about the unique affordability of Mirador. e and the differen all about Life Car . ty ri secu Call 361-265-8047 to learn more. can make in your

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Get the BIG Pic June 27 or July 11:30 a.m.

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. Timbergate Drive Mirador • 5857 Texas 78414 Corpus Christi,

d. Seating is limiteR.S.V.P. 47 to

Call 361-265-80

www.MiradorRetirement.com

5857 Timbergate Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78414

www.SQLC.org

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NSIDE feature

Our Year for Choices Our choices determine our freedom, make us the people we become and establish our financial future. By: [Connie Laughlin]

Every single day we’re faced with choices. So far this year you’ve probably had more than your fair share. You might be well served to ponder a scene from Charlie Brown and Lucy. I believe the comic strip story goes like this: Charlie Brown is shown on a snowy day balancing a large snowball in his hand and looking quizzically at Lucy. Lucy sternly returns his gaze and makes the following considered observation: “Life is full of choices. You may choose, if you wish, to throw the snowball at me … You may choose, if you wish, not to throw the snowball at me. Now, if you wish to throw the snowball at me, I’ll pound you right into the ground. If you choose not to throw the snowball at me, your head will be spared.” Charlie Brown is shown on his own without the snowball looking contemplative. He concludes that, “Life is full of choices; but you never get any.” You may think you have choices – or would it be true to say you don’t have a choice once you make a decision based on relevant information? Or are you just following the path of least resistance? Ignorance provides us with numerous choices. Or possibly choices we made at earlier times dictate our options today. If you smoke cigarettes, you may not necessarily believe your decision to have a cigarette today is a choice. Will we throw the snowball with intense instant gratification, or will we have our head pounded into the ground later? Do we consider short-term and long-term consequences?

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Adam should never have eaten that apple. What was he thinking? Assiduous, well-informed individuals weigh their options and make the appropriate decisions (or choices). One surefire way to make the best choices is to make fewer of them. The only sufficient way to do that is to delegate and outsource, obviously with preparatory time spent assigning your delegated appointees. Regardless of whether it’s going on a blind date or selecting a vendor to work with in your small business, every decision you make must be made with risk management in mind. Determine what’s important and what helps facilitate your goals. Charlie Brown was pretty keen on keeping his head firmly planted on his shoulders. Other than business production or an individual’s earning power, risk management is the largest challenge we face today. It’s an integral part of your

responsibility. Don’t let it get overlooked. Large companies with HR expertise in-house implement a full scope of HR initiatives to maximize employee productivity, avoid costly problems and ultimately, increase and protect profits. So typically, they lack the need to outsource administrative services. Smaller companies without that expertise are at a competitive disadvantage. Every small- to medium-sized company is advised to look into the option of outsourcing its HR to a PEO (professional employer organization) firm. PEO firms bring that much-needed value to these smaller companies at a minute fraction of the investment of them doing it on their own. Connie Laughlin is a PEO business consultant for South Texas. You may contact her at conniel@ uniquehr.com.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” - J.K. Rowling


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NSIDE feature

Entertaining With Ease Keep it simple and focus on fun to make your next event a success. By: [Rebekah Sillman]

Entertainment for an event can make the whole experience memorable. Whether that is good or bad completely depends on the planning. I am fortunate to be able to see a wide variety of fundraisers, parties and special events. The best event planners always think about who is attending and what the attendees like to do. More often than not, attendees go to a special event because they know about the cause and want to help out. So the real question becomes, what makes an event fun? Keep it simple. Auctions, bands, comedians and speakers all have their place and purpose in a special event. What makes it fun is focusing on one of these aspects and doing it very well versus overdoing it with too many components, making the event a drawn-out affair that will lose the attention of the guests. For example, Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas hosts the Power of the Purse each year. It is a fundraiser event for local chapters directed at women. Everyone knows women love to shop! This event gives them an opportunity to shop while helping their community at the same time. It is not a long event, but it doesn’t need to be. They have food and drinks available as guests arrive, and people get to mingle and shop, enjoy the live auction and hear a few short announcements. This allows guests to truly enjoy the event. Themed events can be fun for those planning and attending the event. The best themes are always the simplest. The ladies of Junior League host the Fairy Tale Ball in January each year keeping the theme the same each time. Every table is decorated in a different childhood movie, book, etc. It is simple, and everyone can easily participate without a significant amount of instruction. Paws & Claws, part of the Gulf Coast Humane Society, is another group that did a fantastic job with its style show, “Wizard of Paws.” The Wizard of Oz theme was thorough in

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the décor, the invitations and the menu, and it even included furry friends dressed up like lions! Each detail is consistent in focusing on the theme for both groups, and it’s exciting to think about what they will come up with next. Survey your attendees. Take the time to talk with various people who have attended a variety of events for your organization and others. Ask what they did and didn’t like at other events. What do they remember the most? Was there something that was memorable like a caricaturist, a photo booth or fabulous food? Keep the things that worked well and try to eliminate the things that didn’t. Most importantly, take the time to know what will bring them back to support your event in the future. Events are meant to help your organization grow and get others involved in what you love. As you plan your next event, have fun with it and you just might end up the talk of the town!

Rebekah Sillman is the general manager for the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center. You may contact her at rebekah@pocca.com or 361-8856229, or visit www.facebook.com/theortizcenter.

The best event planners always think about who is attending and what the attendees like to do.


W E L F I T U S O I IF Y ORPUS CHR C YOU’D BE HOME BY NOW! You make a lot of CHOICES when you travel. One choice should be easy. Corpus Christi International Airport offers: • Service from 3 Major Airlines • Free Wi-Fi • Convenient and Affordable Parking • No Long Lines • No Hassles

WHY DRIVE YOURSELF CRAZY

driving to another city, wasting time, gas and money while investing in someone else’s airport? Book your flight today! And be HOME when you land. corpuschristiairport.com N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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NSIDE feature

Market Your Business Effectively on Facebook

The Better Business Bureau offers guidelines for engaging potential customers via social media. By: [kristi pena]

Social media has transformed over the past few years from a fun, creative option for businesses into an invaluable marketing tool. With more than 800 million active users, Facebook contains one of the largest consumer bases in the world. The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. Reaching those potential customers requires a strategic approach and a concise message. Use the following guidelines to help maximize your results:

Create value

According to Altimeter Group, the most common reasons consumers interact with a company’s social media sites are for discounts, purchase information, reviews and product rankings. Make sure your Facebook page sends a clear message that your products and services are of the highest quality. If your budget allows, consider offering a discount to your loyal Facebook community.

Be transparent and engage your audience

Consumers will stop following your business if you don’t consistently deliver valuable information to them. Address all questions or complaints in a timely manner and be open to suggestions. The people you respond to may be not only potential

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The most common reasons consumers interact with a company’s social media sites are for discounts, purchase information, reviews and product rankings. customers, but also referral sources for your business.

Post photos and videos

2) Their wall became too crowded with marketing posts and they needed to remove them 3) The content became repetitive or boring over time 4) They only “liked” the page to take advantage of a one-time offer 5) The company’s posts were too promotional

Avoid behaviors that cause consumers to “unlike” your page

BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior. For more information, please contact Kristi Pena, regional PR manager for BBB, at 210-828-8752.

Many consumers feel a more personal interaction if they can see and hear content rather than read it. Highlight your product and service offerings by posting photos and videos on your Facebook page. Displaying samples of your work can help enhance the buying experience for your potential customers.

A survey conducted by ExactTarget shows the most common reasons consumers “unlike” a business’ Facebook page: 1) The company posted too frequently


CoRPuS CHRiSTi’S fiRST And only eXCluSive SAlon. HAiR, nAilS, wAXing, lASeR & AnTi-Aging SAlon.

Salon Palomo 2033 Airline Rd., Corpus Christi, TX 78412 across the street from the Corpus Christi Athletic Club

361.855.8841

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9am-7pm N S I D E C O A S T A L B E N D 17 www.salonpalomo.com


NSIDE feature

Thinking of Opening a Restaurant? For the best results, let the City of Corpus Christi Development Services Department help you start the planning process from the ground up. By: [Christina Cisneros]

Have you ever dreamed about owning your own restaurant and being your own boss? Many people do. Working for yourself and setting your own hours may sound like exactly what you need, but there are many things to take into consideration before you ring up your first sale. When opening a restaurant, you must go through a specific process to set up the restaurant properly so you can concentrate on running the restaurant, making food and serving your customers. The better your planning before you start spending money on the restaurant itself, the better everything will come together when the restaurant actually opens. This process takes time and careful planning, and in Corpus Christi, you have a partner in making that happen. The City of Corpus Christi Development Services Department may not be able to help you write your menu, but we can help you save money on the front end of your investment. Our office offers the services of people who specialize in city locations, utilities, codes and the like. They are project managers, and their services are free to our customers. So how does this all work? First, you should make an appointment to meet with a development services project manager as early in your planning as you can. Remember to bring in your plans, no matter what stage of planning you are in. The more information and direction you get as early as you can get it, even in the beginning stages, the better off you are. If you are building from the ground up, there are several things to decide. For example, how big will your

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building be? Where do you want to build? How many parking spaces do you need for your building? How do you make both your parking lot and building ADA compliant? What permits do you need, and what will they cost? If you are reusing existing space, we can help you decide if the location you have chosen is right for you by helping you determine if it is zoned for what you want to do. Remember, all use changes of a property must be approved by the city. Are the utilities you require accessible, or does your location need to be retrofit? Are your facilities ADA compliant? Is parking sufficient for your project? And of course, what permits do you need for your scope of work, and what will they cost? When the time is right, we can help by setting up a meeting with representatives from all of the entities you need to give the OK to your plan, like planning, inspection and even engineering. We want to help you get the answers you need upfront so you can make sound financial decisions about your new business. We are here to do our part to make your new business venture as successful as possible. Call our office today and come in for an appointment. We are here to help.

Christina Cisneros is the special projects coordinator for City of Corpus Christi Development Services. For more information, call 361-826-3240, or visit the department offices at 2406 Leopard St. inside the Frost Bank building.

The better your planning before you start spending money on the restaurant itself, the better everything will come together when the restaurant actually opens.


Grande Is The Smart Choice Grande offers the ideal combination of high-speed Internet, local and long-distance telephone and digital cable services – all from one company. That means you choose the combination that works best for you and we will deliver your services at the best possible price, on one convenient bill. Call and ask about our special offers available to you! 361-334-4600 or visit us online at www.mygrande.com

Service is not available in all areas, may be subject to credit approval and may require a deposit. Grande is a provider of low-income Linkup and Lifeline services. To find out if you qualify, contact the Public Utility Commission at www.puc.state.tx.us or at 1.888.782.8477. The GRANDE COMMUNICATIONS marks and logos are service marks of Grande Communications Networks, LLC. All rights reserved. Š2011 Grande Communications Networks, LLC. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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NSIDE feature

Growth in Numbers SMG American Bank Center and the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau work together to sell our city and boost our economy. By: [Samantha Koepp]

When promoters and event planners look for a venue to host their events, they want a facility that will accommodate their needs: appropriate size, room availability, adequate staffing, flexible pricing, etc. The city surrounding the venue is just as important. This is often based upon proximity to an airport, hotel room availability and location in respect to venue, restaurants, local attractions and more. SMG American Bank Center works with potential clients in partnership with the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), which ensures that our city’s best assets are known by all interested in visiting our city. Both actively promote American Bank Center as a facility that offers a convention center, auditorium and arena, as well as a staff dedicated to meeting every client’s needs in a beautiful city whose best resources are just a short walk away. An increase in events held during the first quarter of 2012 compared to that of 2011, as well as increased attendance in the building, is an indicator that SMG American Bank Center is becoming a prime event choice across the nation. First quarter events during 2012 that have continued to return to American Bank Center included the Home & Garden Expo, the Rock & Worship Roadshow, the IceRays, Cirque du Soleil, the Broadway in Corpus Christi series, SkillsUSA and Texas Women’s High School Powerlifting. New additions this year include Third Day with Matt Maher, Showtime Championship Boxing and Kevin Hart. From January to the end of March, 108 events brought more than 180,000 attendees through the doors of the arena, convention center and auditorium. Compared to last year, those figures equate to a 30 percent increase in events and a 10 percent increase in attendance. The advantage of bringing more

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Bringing more events and people to American Bank Center not only sells tickets or puts money back into the venue. It impacts the local community as a whole. events and people to American Bank Center is that it does more than just sell tickets or put revenue back into the venue; it impacts the local economy as a whole. Conferences and conventions are major contributors to local businesses because they bring hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors to our area for an extended period of time. This year, there has been a spike in youth business such as DECA, FCCLA, SkillsUSA and Texas Women’s High School Powerlifting that have greatly attributed to the growth of conventions and conferences in Corpus Christi. This youth business will stimulate our economy by more than $4 million in the year 2012. The work of the CVB, especially

with these events, is crucial to selling our city as a destination and ideal conference location that provides a professional and entertaining atmosphere. This year is proving to be one of progression and growth in numbers for SMG American Bank Center with even more events to come: June 3: Hammerheads vs. Venom June 15: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Fully Charged June 21: Miranda Lambert June 25: Hammerheads vs. Stallions June 30: Tournament of Warriors MMA Finale July 3: WWE SmackDown July 22: Wedding Fair 2012

Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www. ticketmaster.com. You can also charge by phone at 361-881-8499.

American Bank Center is Corpus Christi’s premier event center providing unprecedented guest experiences. For more information, visit us online at www.americanbankcenter.com or www.facebook.com/americanbankcenter, or follow us on Twitter (@AmericanBankCtr). For more information on the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau, visit www.visitcorpuschristitx.org or www.facebook.com/visitcorpuschristi, or follow @VisitCCTexas on Twitter.


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are and often serve as the face of the company. Think about some of the major businesses you see or use daily. Do they have a logo? Is their logo one you easily recognize and have grown to know? This is part of their branding, and it has created their identity. You can easily accomplish the same within the market by remaining consistent with your logo. You don’t have to have a huge budget to get some “skin in the game.” Tackle however much of the market your budget allows, but remain consistent with your message, logo and marketing materials. If you do that, you will easily become recognizable and gain credibility with those whom you do come across.

Consistency with marketing and business materials

brand yourself Does your company have an identity? By: [Gerald Flores]

Don’t break out the iron rod and head for the cattle just yet! We are talking about a different kind of branding. We are talking about the branding that makes you and your company recognizable in the community. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” In more modern terms, your brand is your company’s personality. It really is just that simple to understand. Whether you know it or believe it, your company has a personality of its own. Just as our personalities are projected to all we come across, so is that of our company. Economic times are tough, and your business should stand out from the rest. It’s time to give your business the recognition it deserves with a professional identity through branding.

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“Branding is too expensive; only large companies have the money and resources for it. ”That could not be further from the truth. Effective branding is less about large budgets and more about following rules with the money you are already spending. You are more than likely already spending money on business cards, brochures, advertisements and print materials. Following simple rules will allow you to get more from your money while creating an effective brand or identity. The following rule is one of the most important, as well as one that most companies break: consistency. “Markets may change, but brands shouldn’t,” according to Al and Laura Ries, co-authors of “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.” Logo consistency is one of the most important concepts in branding and identity. Your logo should remain consistent and represent your company’s quality and expertise. Logos tell everyone who you

Recognition and credibility even come from the materials you use daily. Consistency is equally important with your marketing and business materials. Your standard business materials such as business cards, letterheads and brochures should remain consistent with the design and color of your logo.

The benefits of consistent business materials Passing out one business card design to 500 people may be more beneficial than passing out three different designs to 900 people. “What?! That’s 400 more people who have my business card. How is that not better?” I hear you, it sounds crazy, but look at it this way: Although you reached 400 more people by passing out three different designs, you did nothing for your brand and identity. You may be one of the few companies in town that does what you do, but now it looks like there are three different companies out there who do the same thing. This does not help create your identity. Your name is important, but your image plays a huge role in the identity of your company over time. It all starts with a direction and a logo. Think about all of the places your logo will go. It’s on cards, letterheads, invoices, signs, advertisements and more. These are all tools that help spread your identity among the market. It’s never too late to begin building your brand. There are many resources and graphic designers out there who can help build your identity. Take the time to do your research and make sure you select one who has the knowledge and will most benefit your company.

Gerald Flores is a graphic designer. For more information, visit www.geraldflores.com.


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The Beauty of Birthstones

Each representing a different month, all 12 of these natural gemstones feature their own unique beauty and symbolic meanings. By: [Adam Hinojosa]

Dating back to the breastplate of Aaron, which contained 12 gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel, gemstones have been used in a symbolic manner. The current list of gemstones that represent birth months dates back to 1912, when the (American) National Association of Jewelers officially adopted a list in an effort to standardize birthstones. The Jewelry Industry Council of America updated the list in 1952 by adding alexandrite to June and citrine to November; specifying pink tourmaline for October; replacing December’s lapis with zircon; and switching the primary/alternate gems in March. The most recent change occurred in October 2002, with the addition of tanzanite as a December birthstone (Wikipedia – “Modern Birthstones”). So what is your birthstone, and what does it symbolize? Here is the modern list of birthstones and their meanings:

January: Garnet

All garnets (not just red) are birthstones for the month of January. North American Indians used red garnets as bullets, believing they would seek blood and inflict a deadlier wound. Christians believed garnet symbolized Christ’s sacrifice; Islamics believed it illuminated the fourth heaven. Garnets

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were thought to stop bleeding, cure inflammatory diseases and smooth discord.

February: Amethyst

Amethyst is derived from the Greek word meaning “not to intoxicate,” which led to the belief that drinking from an amethyst cup would prevent drunkenness. Amethyst was thought to protect against disease, control evil thoughts and quicken one’s intelligence. It is considered a surface cure for headaches and toothaches, and it is used to increase spirituality.

March: Aquamarine

Derived from the Latin word meaning “sea water,” aquamarine was used for protection during ocean voyages and to guard against sea monsters. It was also believed that aquamarine soaked in water would treat eye troubles, respiratory diseases and hiccups. It is said that this gemstone is used to help ease depression and grief, and to re-awaken love in long marriages. It also signifies the making of new friends.

April: Diamond

Its name is derived from the Greek word adamas, meaning “unconquerable,” reflecting recognition of diamond’s superior hardness. Many cultures

believe diamonds to have been associated with the moon and the sun to resemble their colorlessness, brilliance, hardness and value. The power of a diamond is diminished once it is bought, but it is preserved and enhanced when given as a gift. A diamond is a symbol of love, purity and faith to some; to others, it symbolizes ideas such as power, success and security. Romance is the image a diamond portrays when reflected in lovers’ eyes.

May: Emerald

Emeralds were once prescribed for eye diseases because the green color was believed to be soothing to the eyes. They were also once recommended as amulets to ward off epilepsy in children. Emeralds were known to strengthen the owner’s memory, quicken intelligence and help predict the future. It is known as a symbol of rebirth and romance.

June: Pearl

Indians used pearl-adorned swords to honor tears of sorrow wrought by battle. Pearls were once thought to be the tears of God. In the 13th century, pearls were believed to cure mental illness and heartbreak. The pearl is considered an emblem of modesty, chastity and purity, and it symbolizes love, success and happiness.


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July: Ruby

Known as the stone of love, ruby is capable of reconciling lovers’ quarrels. It was once believed that if worn in a ring on the left hand or in a brooch on the left side, it would give the magical ability to live in peace among enemies. This stone was once thought to ward off misfortune and ill health. Ruby is given as a symbol of success, devotion, integrity, health and passion.

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August: Peridot

Peridot is known to be dull by day, but to “glow like a coal” at night. This “glow” let prospectors spot deposits in the dark and mark them for digging the next day. Peridot was thought to help dreams become a reality, and was often given as a symbol of fame, dignity and protection.

September: Sapphire

The ancients believed sapphires influenced spirits, guarded against unchastity, protected them from capture and made peace between enemies. They were also thought to clear the mind and skin, and to cure fevers, colds, eye disease and ulcers. Sapphire is a longtime symbol and guardian of purity, and it represents truth, sincerity and consistency.

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It was once believed that pink tourmaline protected the wearer against bad decisions, many dangers and misfortune. It is also known to attract friends and lovers. Pink tourmaline promotes female balance and protection.

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November: Citrine

Derived from the French word citron, meaning “lemon,” the color of citrine is associated with lightheartedness and cheerfulness. It is also believed to help one connect with the spirit. Citrine is often given as a symbol of hope, youth, health and fidelity.

December: Tanzanite

Tanzanite has been recognized as helping one deal with change. It is also known to uplift the spirit and open the heart. The blue and purple hues of tanzanite are associated with generosity and friendship.

For All Your Financial Needs Main Office: 361.980.8203 2633 Rodd Field Rd., Corpus Christi, TX 78414

Adam Hinojosa is the executive VP/GM of Fine Jewelry Office Studio, located at One Shoreline Plaza, 800 N. Shoreline Blvd., Ste. 340 (South Tower), Corpus Christi, Texas 78401. For more information, call 361-500-4433 (store) or 361726-2800 (cell). You may also visit www.fjostudio.com or www.facebook.com/fjostudio.

Downtown Office: 361.737.0818 539 N. Carancahua Tower III Suite 101 Corpus Christi, TX 78401 Alice Office: 361.664.8331 1909 E. Main St., Alice, TX 78332

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“Gentlemen, You May Smoke” Celebrate the good life with a fine cigar at the Havana, a club with a large, walk-in humidor that boasts a broad selection of cigars, wines and other spirits.

[special to nside] Photography: [edgar de la garza]

“Gentlemen, you may smoke,” said King Edward VII on the day he assumed the throne. The utterance of these words broke the ban on cigar smoking effectively imposed by his mother, Queen Victoria. For centuries, cigars have enjoyed their own rich and sorted history. Today, the cigar is a symbolic act of pleasure – a signifier of the good life and of celebration. So how did cigars find their way into Western civilization? Cristobal Colon, more commonly known as Christopher Columbus, first documented the natives in the New World cultivating tobacco for religious purposes – in other words, smoking quantities large enough to cause a trancelike state. Perhaps this is the reason the conquistadores had no problems subduing the natives and taking their riches and tobacco back to the Old World. Such was the discovery of the New World and the commencement of our culture’s love affair with tobacco. The experience of enjoying a fine cigar is sublime. You may find yourself passing out cigars to celebrate the birth of your child or the success of a business deal. You may get the urge on a holiday (Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving) or perhaps at that moment of reflection as father-of-thebride. Whatever the circumstance, cigars are for celebrations (and not for sulking). If this short article makes a single impression, then know this: The smoking of a cigar should be a treasured experience, not a thought-

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less plunge to apply fire to something that might burn poorly. Here are a few clues. First, don’t ever believe that all cigars are created equally. Secondly, if you buy your cigars from a place that does not have a humidor, you’re going to the wrong place. Thirdly, ask questions to find a cigar that interests you since each cigar is unique. Finally, find a great venue to enjoy the experience. In Corpus Christi, the Havana Club boasts a large walk-in humidor that houses more than 24 different cigars. The cigar selections range in price from $6 to $25 per cigar. You may decide upon a brand name that sounds familiar (e.g., Cohiba, Macanudo, Arturo Fuente or Romeo y Julieta), or you may select a more boutique cigar brand (e.g., Alec Bradley, Warlock or Davidoff ). The Havana also carries a small selection of flavored offerings and now offers the No. 1 and No. 9 rated cigars from 2011 (as voted on by Cigar Aficionado). In addition to being named the top cigar of 2011, the Alec Bradley Prensado received an unheard-of 96-point rating. “The Alec Bradley Prensado is as gorgeous a cigar as you’ll ever see, with a picture-perfect head and a stunning wrapper. But it is the flavor that makes it a classic smoke,” according to Cigars International. “The Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos come together to create leather, chocolate and spice notes and a long, lush finish.” Warlock claims the No. 9 rated cigar for 2011. It is a medium- to full-


bodied cigar rated at 92. “This smoke is complex and robust, issuing deep woodsy notes, nuts and a long, rich finish complemented by subtle spices which are a tasty treat for the senses,” Cigars International says. Cigar smoking is all about pleasure. The Havana offers a wide range of cigars from which you may make your selection. Walk into our humidor, peruse the cigar boxes on the shelves to consider your options and ask for the manager so that the cigars may be presented for your discerning eyes and nose to make the choice. Make your selection, and then take your time. Relish the moment. Along with the bourgeoning cigar selection, the Havana also takes great pride in offering many fine wines and other spirits. Of course, port wines are always a great complement to enjoying a fine cigar (perhaps a Merryvale Antigua or Fonseca Bin 27).

These dessert wines, or digestifs, have a distinctively sweet taste that lends themselves well to this endeavor. If a sweet-tasting after-dinner wine is not to your liking, the Havana also carries an assortment of aged scotches and cognacs. Of course, any bold and full-bodied red wine will also add to such a moment worth remembering. At the Havana, the staff and owners pride themselves on delivering the “Havana experience.” All customers deserve to get real value for their entertainment dollar. To smoke a cigar is to actively invest time in yourself. Smoking a cigar can be the edge that makes vibrant the memory and the moment. For more information on the Havana Club, call 361882-5552.

The smoking of a cigar should be a treasured experience, not a thoughtless plunge to apply fire to something that might burn poorly. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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A Leader in Higher Education Reaching for the stars in the Lone Star State, Dr. Steven H. Tallant uses his passion for education to instill academic excellence at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. By: [Adolfo Pesquera] Photography: [dustin ashcraft]

F

our decades after leaving his home state, Dr. Steven H. Tallant re-established his Texas roots, this time as president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Most Americans may remember 1969 as the year the first man set foot on the moon. But for Tallant, that was the year he finished an associate’s degree in his hometown school, Paris Junior College. That same year, he became a radioman in the U.S. Navy. He had a long career in many communities outside of Texas, taking advantage each step of the way of the educational opportunities afforded him in the military and through state school systems. Since taking the reins in Kingsville in 2008, Tallant has managed a daunting task. State appropriations cuts, rising tuition costs and a battered economy presented challenges that might have put the school’s programs into a tailspin. “Last year, we took a 15 percent cut in our state appropriation,” Tallant said. “I had to combine or eliminate 81 positions on campus.”

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The $6 million hit forced Tallant to leave some workforce vacancies unfilled. Forty-three employees retired early through a voluntary separation program. But he saved all of his faculty positions. On a campus that prides itself on small classroom sizes and developing student-teacher relations, that was a major accomplishment. The future remains uncertain, but Tallant is optimistic that A&MKingsville has weathered the worst of the Great Recession punch. “Sales taxes are up in Texas,” he said. “The economy is improving greatly in Texas. It is my understanding that Texas is much better off than it was two years ago.” There remains, however, uncertainty over how dedicated the legislature is to higher education. No one can definitively say the appropriations cuts have ended, but Tallant is doing his part to avoid them. “In the 1960s, taxpayers paid over 90 percent of the cost of higher education” at publicly funded institutions, he said. “Today, tax dollars


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cover about 37 percent of the cost.” A full-time, in-state student pays $6,600 to cover two semesters of studies at A&M-Kingsville. In many other states, in-state student costs at state schools are more than double that. “I’m very pleased Texas kept tuition down, compared to other states, but it’s still a lot of money,” Tallant said. There was a time when students could work summer jobs to raise their tuition money. That is no longer possible, he said. “My belief is we have to turn it around. We must find a way to keep college affordable, or else we’re going to limit a huge portion of our population from going to college at a time when competitor nations around the world are paying all of the students’ education.” China, he somberly noted, has more students in universities than the United States has citizens.

❖ A triumphant return ❖ Tallant’s personal story reads like a testimonial on the benefits of higher education. He grew up in a little town a two-hour drive northeast of Dallas and served 20 years in the military. After a four-year enlisted commitment in the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Florida and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Utah. He then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force and studied for a Ph.D. in clinical social work at the University of Wisconsin. He was a child abuse protection officer who later

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“My belief is we have to turn it around. We must find a way to keep college affordable.” did research on family separations at the Pentagon and helped develop family support centers before retiring in 1994 as a lieutenant colonel. From 1994 to 2008, he was at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he rose from assistant professor to vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. In 2008, he was getting offers to run other campuses, and he laid down some criteria. “I would only leave Wisconsin for a job in Texas,” he said. “I wanted to be at a university that was dedicated to providing students access and opportunity. And I wanted to be at a public institution. I am the product of public higher education.” Kingsville, Tallant concluded, met those criteria, so he and his wife moved from 35-below-zero winters to South Texas humidity. “It took us a while to get used to the hot summers, but we absolutely love it,” Tallant said. One of Tallant’s first introductions was to Stephen J. “Tio” Kleberg, member of the King Ranch Board of Directors. His first week in town, Kleberg invited him to breakfast, and so began a long-term relationship. A patron of the university for more than 40 years, Kleberg advised Tallant on the inner workings of

the university and introduced him to the movers and shakers. “He is a very quick study,” Kleberg said. “He surrounds himself with people that are smarter than he is. Leadership describes Steve better than anything. He wants to make you the best you can be.” Tallant is dedicated to preparing students to graduate and find good jobs, but he also tries to instill in them a desire to contribute to their communities, Kleberg said. “I don’t think anyone could have done any better,” said Kleberg First National Bank President Joe Henkel on Tallant’s first four years. “He’s energized the university. He brought in a bunch of new people – all high-energy professionals. He’s instilled a passion within the university for excellence.” As chairman of the Texas A&M-Kingsville Foundation, Henkel has been able to rely on Tallant to keep alumni engaged and dedicated to the university’s future. The student body has grown, and a once rundown campus has enjoyed the benefits of renovations. Tallant built on the legacy of his predecessors and accomplished some feats that show a willingness to reach for the stars.


“Leadership describes Steve better than anything. He wants to make you the best you can be.”

“The College of Business Administration was on the ropes,” Henkel cited as an example. “The previous administration, an interim president, recommended it be closed. Tallant saw it was a necessary college and turned it around to where it is a really strong program.” Tallant has become the face of the university, day and night, on and off campus. He gets to the office before 7 a.m., stays until 5 p.m. and regularly attends university activities in the evenings and on the weekends.

He also travels around the state frequently. “When I’m on the road, it’s primarily to meet with legislators and alumni. I meet with my representatives to discuss the things we need, to talk about the needs of higher education in general, so that they know the issues.” The president’s home on campus is Tallant’s 15th residence in 38 years, and he is Texas A&M-Kingsville’s 19th president. He intends to keep those numbers current for many years. “I enjoy the faculty, and we have great students.

I’m very excited about what we’ve done. One of the most pleasant surprises has been the city of Kingsville and South Texas. My wife and I really enjoy living here. It’s one of the most welcoming places we’ve ever lived.”

For more information, you may contact Dr. Steven H. Tallant through the Office of the President at Texas A&M University-Kingsville at 361-593-3209. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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get lost at le’vu with a broad target age range, affordable prices and a keen eye for what’s fun, fresh and fashionable, crystal torres treats her clients to retail heaven at le’vu boutique. By: [Jody Joseph Marmel] Photography: [dustin ashcraft]

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Crystal Torres, owner of Le’vu Boutique in Corpus Christi, is chic and creative, and she exudes tremendous amounts of warmth and class. She is the symbol of her women’s clothing boutique. The visual merchandising is an art form, and as many of her customers say, “I can get lost in this store.” It is fashion heaven for females of all age groups. “My target is between ages 14 to 45, which is a wide age range,” Torres says. “However, I cater to everyone who loves fashion and the art of it.” In other words, it is not uncommon to see women in their 50s taking a trip to Le’vu and leaving with at least one shopping bag filled with fashion-packed fun. In 2002, after graduating from high school, Torres opened a boutique called Crystal’s. “I catered to a younger crowd. It was not as sophisticated as Le’vu.” Two years later, the grand opening of Le’vu was magnificent. “I wanted to introduce this new surprise to all my

$65. With great prices and trendy fashion finds, there is not much more to add to this successful equation. What is left: great customer service skills, business savvy and going to L.A. market weeks for the seasons and buying with only your customers in mind. In Torres’ case, she is her customer, and the knowhow is natural. Always staying current with the latest styles and fashion, Torres not only visits Los Angeles, but frequents the Las Vegas market, as well. Her merchandise mix is a combination of merchandise that looks more like labels, but does not come with designer price tags. “It is good to intermix labels with non-designer labels to make a great fashion statement for a variety of looks.” What’s hot for spring and summer? Fashion fun, color and neon colors are mentioned first. “Don’t be scared to try new colors, especially as a statement of jewelry,” Torres says. “This summer, there are a lot of two-piece outfits rather than dresses. There is a bit more thought put

i cater to everyone “ who loves fashion and the art of it.” customers, friends and family. A grand opening was the way to go. I had public fashion shows every three months for about two years. I wanted to keep Le’vu fun and fresh. Le’vu was going to be known by everyone.” Torres introduced Le’vu, and it is well known by locals, as well as those visiting Corpus Christi. It is difficult not to notice the trendy boutique that is retail therapy for all who enter the front doors. Once you look in the store’s front windows, it magically pulls you in. Now that is a fashion talent to be proud of. In 2006, Torres closed Crystal’s and put all of her energy into Le’vu. The boutique is a “must” for all fashionistas. As Le’vu is a head-to-toe boutique, Torres’ slogan is, “At Le’vu, you can have it all.” She elaborates: “We have everything from clothes to shoes and jewelry galore, with a unique touch that you can’t find just anywhere.” Providing the reason as to why you can have it all is the realistic prices of all merchandise displayed throughout the entire boutique. “Our prices are affordable. You can be fully dressed for less than $100.” Price points are between $2.99 and

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into the outfits for this season. Global prints, colored jeans and tropical prints are going to be fabulous styles. Mixing casual with chic is what I am ready for this summer.” Just receiving a new selection of neon-colored jewelry, Torres advises that it can be paired with neutrals and basics that can give an outfit a bit of edginess. “It is doing very well in the boutique. Peplum and cutouts are also big sellers – and of course, statement shoes that complete an outfit.” Making Le’vu very welcoming invites the customer to stay as long as she wants. The ambiance is a major asset for both her regulars and first-time customers. “Our props are out of this world. They are very shabby chic. They are definitely a one-of-a-kind display, which distinguishes our boutique from others.” Approximately 1,400 square feet, Le’vu utilizes every inch for display and comfort. Providing the men with a small sitting area, the boutique has added extremely novel flooring that keeps the men entertained. The floor is paper machete with inquiries from the ‘70s and ‘80s, so the

men stay well entertained with the magazine floor. Now that is customer service to the max. It is also more costeffective in the long run. Torres gives her father a lot of credit for her success. “My plans were to get a degree in communication and become a news anchor. That was my dream. I did not think that I could make a living off a passion of mine, which was fashion. “When I told my father about my plans, he strongly suggested that I open a boutique instead of going to college. He said I had what it took. My father, being a self-made successful businessman, didn’t believe in college. Per his suggestion, I decided to open a boutique and pay my way through college with the money the boutique was bringing in.” Attending college for a little more than two years, she noticed how successful the boutique had become. Torres changed her plans and chose fashion as her career. The women who reside in the Coastal Bend are very happy she did, and so are the women who vacation here. “What girl doesn’t love fashion? I get great joy from working at a job that is fun and enjoyable.” Future plans include expanding the boutique and adding a shoe department to Le’vu. When asked where she sees herself five years from now, Torres says, “I like to take things as they come. I do see myself improving and excelling in great ways.” Having a husband and two young daughters makes her career a bit more challenging, but Torres’ enthusiasm and passion for Le’vu grow stronger each season. “Having my regular customers come into the boutique is a wonderful treat each time. You build relationships with them. You see them maturing and their children growing up. They become part of my family.” It is no wonder that a great majority of her customers say, “it would be great to expand your business to other cities.” San Antonio and Austin are waiting for Le’vu to come in. Now that would be the icing on the cake. It just may happen, with Torres leading the way. While this is not in her future plans as of yet, Torres’ plans to excel in the near future just might head north.

Le’vu is located at 5017 Saratoga Blvd., Ste. 151, Corpus Christi, Texas 78413. For more information, call 361-991-2559 or look for Le’vu on Facebook.


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Record-Setting Success The Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds serves as one of the most prominent landmarks in the area thanks to stellar customer service and the leadership of Jason O. Green. By: [Adolfo Pesquera] Photography: [dustin ashcraft]

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Situated near the crossroads of Interstate 69 and Texas Highway, the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds has established itself as the focal point of community in Nueces County. Since opening for the January 2007 Nueces County Junior Livestock Show, The Fairgrounds has become Robstown’s newest and most prominent landmark, in addition to serving as a major economic generator. Now in its fifth year of operation, The Fairgrounds is run by Jason O. Green, a New York native who has managed event facilities up and down the East Coast. “I went to St. Thomas University in Miami Lakes for a master’s degree in sports administration,” Green said. “I’ve been doing this type of work for 19 years.” Green worked as an event coordinator or event manager at facilities in Florida and California before getting his first job as an operations director of the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center in Georgia in 1997. Prior to accepting the general manager post at The Fairgrounds, Green spent two years as an events director at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va. Green came to manage The Fairgrounds through his employ with Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia-based facilities management company that holds the contract. Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast Cable, manages more than 100 event facilities in North America. The Fairgrounds requires seven fulltime and 75 part-time employees, and they do plenty. Onsite staff prepares and serves most of the food and beverages for events and takes care of everyday maintenance, administration and marketing. “Bookings are going great,” Green said. “This past year, we had the best

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year ever, with 260 events. The Fairgrounds raked in $1.1 million in total revenue.” As is often the case with event facilities, The Fairgrounds loses money. The Nueces County Commissioners Court provided an annual 2011 budget of $865,975 for its operations and upkeep. Green came in under budget by $27,059. The Fairgrounds facilities are many and able to accommodate many different uses. The arena holds 4,000 people and has seen everything from concerts and trade shows to boxing and wrestling. During Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the presidency, she used the arena for a campaign stump speech. The Fairgrounds also boasts an equestrian center, a convention center, two ballroom halls, a baseball stadium with seating for 4,200, ample parking and Middletown Meadow, a large green space for festivals. The site became the new home of Cottonfest, a Robstown October tradition. “This year’s Cottonfest had over 50 food and arts and crafts vendors, musical entertainment and a variety of events going on such as an IBCA-sanctioned barbecue cook-off with about 35 teams participating … a kids’ play area, as well as a car show,” said Bobby Gonzalez, president of the Robstown Area Development Commission, in a thank-you letter to Green for The Fairgrounds’ sponsorship of the festival. County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, in whose precinct The Fairgrounds was constructed, said the County Commission always had in mind locating the facility where it would take advantage of the construction of Interstate 69. “Our intention was to capture some of that traffic,” Ortiz said. “There needs to be a little bump in the road to get their attention – to get people to spend some time and money here and enjoy themselves.” The Fairgrounds is not just centrally located in Nueces County. It is centrally located in the greater metropolitan statistical area, Ortiz noted, as it is surrounded by and attracts residents from the more rural San Patricio, Jim Wells and Kleberg counties. It has been a boon to Robstown’s sales tax base, he added. “Every time the Peddler Show (three arts and crafts events a year) comes into town, that’s 150 small businesses spontaneously spurring the sales tax revenue.” The Fairgrounds has beefed up the bottom line of nearby hotels and at-

tracted other small businesses to locate in the area. “We’re proud of it,” Ortiz said. “It got off to a slow start, but it’s been building up. Word has spread about the good facility that it is and the good service provided by the staff. A lot of small businesses have located there, and they have done well.” Weddings, quinceañeras, cheerleader competitions, religious services, women’s roller derby games, RV/boat shows and gun shows are among the events taking place year-round. But the top draw remains the annual Junior Livestock Show. For generations, the Livestock Show was held at Robstown’s old Show Barn. But the site was rundown and not handicapped accessible, critics said. Also, the Livestock Show had outgrown it. “We ran out of penning space,” said Jason Floyd, immediate past president of the Livestock Show. In the six years that the event has been at The Fairgrounds, it has continued to grow in size and popularity. “We’re almost running out of space at the new facility,” Floyd said. For an East Coast transplant like Green, coordinating events has been a learning experience. The food is a bit different, as is the Tejano and Mexican

band music. He’s also learned something of Texas rodeos. “It’s been a learning experience for him and for us,” Floyd said of the general manager. But that has as much to do with the perennial turnover on the Livestock Show board of directors as anything. “He’s always working with a new person every year, but he’s been easy to work with,” Floyd said. Green is especially proud of the hard work his staff did over the past year – a year that could be called a turning point in The Fairgrounds’ history: Thirty-eight entirely new events took place there, and 150,000 people visited. “We are looking forward to a great 2012, as we build on our record-setting success,” Green said, adding that corporate training on customer service had a substantial impact. “Our customer service is top-notch. That sets us apart from the other venues in the area and is why we are so successful.”

The Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds is located at 1213 Terry Shamsie Blvd. in Robstown, Texas. For more information, contact Jason O. Green at 361-387-9000.


Be Here - enjoy your Life! Sip, Savor, Taste - Downtown CC

Havana - Upscale Bar and Ultra Lounge

Bleu Bistro and Azur Bar

500 N. Water Street, Corpus Christi, TX

500 N. Water Street, Corpus Christi, TX

- Happy Hour from 4-7:30pm - VIP Booths with Bottle Service Available - Walk-in Humidor with Premium Cigars - Tapas Menu Served until 8pm - Friday’s – International Night with Live Music - Saturday’s – House DJ - Hours: 4pm - 10pm, Monday through Wednesday 4pm - 2am Thursday, Friday, Saturday - Additional Services: Full Service Catering, Private Parties

For Reservations and for Booking Special Events Contact Marcus at marcusrsoliz@msn.com or call Havana at 361.882.5552 or Bleu Bistro at 361.887.2121.

- French-American Cuisine and Fine Cocktails - Relaxed – upscale dining atmosphere - Prime Steaks and Seafood - Extensive Wine List - Specialty Cocktails - Additional Services: Full Service Catering, Private Parties, Private Room, Outdoor Covered Patio Seating - Hours: 5pm - 10pm, Monday through Thursday 5pm - 12pm, Friday and Saturday

For Reservations and for Booking Special Events Contact Marcus at marcusrsoliz@msn.com or call Havana at 361.882.5552 or Bleu Bistro at 361.887.2121.

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The Sky’s the Limit 40

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With Site B Data Services and Nuboso, Joe Rodriguez and Fred Reyes provide South Texas businesses with an innovative, cost-effective way to protect their computer systems from potential disasters. By: [Sarah Tindall] Photography: [robin jerstad]

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hat if a hurricane blew through town next week? Would you be able to continue your business without any interruption or loss of productivity? What if your building caught fire tonight and all of your customer and business data was lost? Would you be able to continue serving your customers? These are scenarios that keep business owners awake at night, and trying to mitigate the damage from a potentially catastrophic event costs them dearly, in both time and expense. Another issue small business owners in particular wrestle with is data storage itself. Many do not have the time or the resources to invest in extra data storage onsite at their businesses, so vast amounts of data are piling up with no clear solution to the storage problem. Joe Rodriguez and Fred Reyes have come up with an amazingly cost-effective and painless solution to this dilemma: Site B Data Services and Nuboso. Rodriguez is the computer whiz behind the projects, and Reyes is the marketing guru who has brought them to a grateful public. The idea behind Site B is simple: Companies need a secure location impervious to storms, fire and any other menace, manmade or natural, that may befall their computer systems. Site B, located in a nondescript warehouse in San Antonio, has all of that and more. “Site B is for clients who already have servers, but want to collocate their equipment to allow for disaster recovery,” Rodriguez says. “This is a company who already has an IT structure as well as servers and all the other hardware already in place.” What Site B provides is a complete lack of downtime in the event of any emergency. “The server integrity is never lost – and companies can spend hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to do that on their own site,” Rodriguez continues. “But for a monthly fee, we already have the facility available to do it for them.” “It took us a year-and-a-half to build the facility because we had to plan for every possible contingency,” Reyes says. This means everything from a 10-foot-tall security fence around the building to cooling units on each side of the building so that if anything from an electrical failure to a drunk driver causes one to fail, the other is not compromised.

“There’s also a battery the size of a small car in here as backup in case the electricity fails, and then two separate generators to use if that fails,” Reyes says. He continues to say that each backup system is rigged with automatic transfer systems, so if one is supplanted by another, the computers don’t even know it has happened. That’s how fast one replaces the next. “And this is why it’s so expensive for companies to try to do this for themselves,” Reyes says. “We’ve thought of everything so they don’t have to. A lot of companies call it ‘disaster recovery,’ but we like to think of it as business continuity.” The facility also has a “data room” inside. This is a genius idea, but one most companies haven’t thought about. “What if a hurricane comes through Corpus, but a company still needs to be available to respond to customer questions and continue to operate their business?” Reyes asks. Someone needs to be available to man the phones, coordinate operations and handle things like payroll. This room is equipped with the phone and computer systems in place to handle the job so no services are interrupted and companies do not lose customers in the event of an evacuation. “This could be the difference between a company dying and a company thriving in that type of situation,” Reyes says. But what does a San Antonio company have to offer Corpus Christi? And why did the business partners choose San Antonio in the first place? Rodriguez and Reyes cite many reasons. First of all, they knew there was a need for this type of facility in South Texas. There were some already in existence, but not the size and extent that Site B Data enjoys. Also, the location is very stable, without bearing the brunt of hurricanes, earthquakes or even tornadoes or other natural disasters. “When Corpus Christi, Houston or even the Valley evacuates for a storm, this is where they all come,” Reyes says. Last but not least, like many other national companies, Reyes and Rodriguez understood the value of a central location – halfway to the East and West Coasts, but also right next door to two of the largest cities in the country, Dallas and Houston. Customers like Del Mar College and many others have already made Corpus Christi an integral part

of the equation, so the line is already run from the Sparkling City to San Antonio, minimizing the cost of transferring data to another location. It just makes sense. Nuboso is the company’s newest offering. It was spawned during a car ride back to San Antonio from a conference in Austin, where the two businessmen realized that they had all the tools to provide the service and that there was a vast need for such a service. Nuboso is cloud-based data storage that “appeals to any type of business who wants to consolidate their infrastructure,” Rodriguez says. “This is a better way for companies to utilize their resources. Rather than use large portions of their hardware to store data that is not used every day, the data can be stored in the cloud to free up the hardware for day-to-day usage. “The cloud is a verb; it is a process. You take the server, and by changing the process of using that server, you get better bang for your buck. This is made for a smaller company who wants the advantage of more storage and better usage of computer resources without the staggering expense of adding more hardware.” That idea went from that car ride concept to product delivery at SXSW in five months. It was a staggering amount of work for the small company and its six employees, but the results have been overwhelming. As far as what’s next, Rodriguez and Reyes say the sky is the limit. A point of presence in the Valley is already in the works, and companies on the East and West Coasts have expressed interest in using the facility. “We did not anticipate this initially,” Reyes says. “We knew there was a need for our service in the regional market, but there is a bigger portion of the pie that is available for the taking.” Now the thinking is big, and the partners intend to make their mark in the global market. They end by saying, “This is exciting for us. There is a huge market for us, and we are looking to rapidly expand. We’re on the cusp of something amazing.”

For more information about Site B Data Services, go to www.sitebdata.com. To find out more about Nuboso, visit www.nuboso.com. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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NSIDE travel

Be Calculating Before You Travel Before your next trip, consult the Trip Calculator to learn how much money you really spend when you drive to other airports versus flying local. By: [Kim Bridger]

When I was a child, I remember watching my grandmother walk the aisles at the grocery store. She had this little plastic calculator of some sort that she would use to add up all of the items she was putting in her basket. To this day, I’m not sure if she did it out of curiosity so she didn’t get sticker shock at the end or if she actually did it out of necessity to avoid spending more than she had to spend. Grocery shopping is a bit different than shopping for airfare. But in both cases, we know a deal when we see one. We know because we get used to the prices. We can tell when milk starts to tick up. And we have certainly noticed that for quite some time now, airline ticket prices have been inching upward. Customers at Corpus Christi International Airport often ask why airfare is usually higher here than at larger airports. It’s estimated that about 30 percent of air travelers in the Coastal Bend region drive to San Antonio or Houston to catch their flights mainly because they can get cheaper airfare. But have you ever added up all of the items in your travel basket before making that decision? What is your time worth? How much time will you spend on the road? What about gas and wear and tear on your vehicle? Will you have to leave a day early and stay in a hotel to get that coveted non-stop flight the next morning? How many meals will you have to buy on the road? Will parking cost more at a larger airport? Will you have to get there earlier because of the TSA lines? And think about once you land after your weeklong vacation: How much would you pay at that moment to be home instead of facing that long drive back to your starting point?

Enter the Trip Calculator

If you visit www.corpuschristiairport.com, you’ll find a box in the middle of the home page labeled “Travel Costs.” At the bottom of the box is a link called “Trip Calculator.” This gadget will help you figure the actual cost of your trip from the various airports you might be considering. It factors in the price of the airfare you have found, the miles you will be driving from your zip code to the various airports, the cost of the vehicle trip based on the standard government mileage reimbursement rate

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and the cost of comparable parking at each airport. Enter the information that applies and let the Trip Calculator work for you. You might be surprised to find out that you are not saving as much as you think by driving to a larger airport. You might find out that the road trip is actually costing you money. The airlines set their ticket prices based on their own formulas and business models. Part of what goes into the price is consideration of how many people are expected to fly. In other words, as customers, the decision to not buy your ticket out of Corpus Christi helps keep prices and schedules where they are. Everyone can understand the need to save money. It can be compared to the choice we make when shopping for a weed eater at Walmart versus your local hardware store on the corner near your home.  You can probably get it cheaper at Walmart because Walmart is larger, it does business on volume and it sells many weed eaters. The small hardware store will likely be forced to keep charging more because it doesn’t sell enough weed eaters and needs to make a profit. This is certainly not an exact comparison to the airfare situation. But you get the idea. As long as the community chooses the perceived cheaper route of driving to other airports, we limit our ability as consumers of the service to get more competitive rates here at our hometown airport. There’s no mistaking that cost will always be a consideration when deciding how, when, where and if to travel. No one will quarrel with a decision to drive to another airport if it’s necessary or when the cost difference is significant. But when it works for you, fly Corpus Christi! It’s convenient and hassle free, and you can start and finish your trip closer to home. In the long run, supporting your hometown airport might lead to better schedules and lower fares. Be calculating before you travel. And have a wonderful trip!

For more information, contact Kim Bridger, PR and marketing coordinator at Corpus Christi International Airport, at kimb@cctexas.com.


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NSIDE dine

The Perfect Mid-Summer Meal Barbecue Portobello quesadillas provide the ultimate casual meal for all ages to enjoy during the hot summer months.

The perfect mid-summer meal is a simple one that satisfies all ages, is casual enough to be enjoyed outside while the sun sets and is delicious enough to keep guests lingering for your recipe. Which, of course, you just say is a secret. Portobello mushrooms are hearty vegetables full of micronutrients and less than 50 calories for a whole cup, so don’t feel guilty slathering on the barbecue sauce.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup store-bought original flavored barbecue sauce 1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste  1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 pound pre-sliced Portobello mushrooms 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced 4 tortillas or whole-grain wraps 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese  1 cup fresh spinach 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

1/ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For more information or recipes, visit www.mandyashcraft.com.

2/ Combine barbecue sauce, tomato paste, vinegar and chipotle pepper in a medium bowl.

By: [Mandy Ashcraft] Photography: [dustin ashcraft]

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3/ Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring until the onions and mushrooms brown. Add garlic salt and spinach. Cook 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl of barbecue sauce; stir to combine. 4/ Place a metal cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray with nonstick spray. Place two tortillas on the cooling rack and split the barbecued vegetable mixture between the two. Add 1/4 cup cheese to each one and place a second tortilla on top of each one. Place the cooling rack with quesadillas on top of the baking sheet into the oven.  5/ Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy.


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NSIDE etiquette

Mind Your Professional Manners Paying attention to body language, perception and image can help ensure successful interactions with colleagues and clients. By: [Sharon Schweitzer]

Korey Howell Photography

“What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For more information on corporate training, contact Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol consultant and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, LLC, at 512-306-1845, www.protocolww.com, www. facebook.com/protocolww, www. linkedin.com/in/sharonschweitzer or www.twitter.com/austinprotocol.

In today’s world of texting and instant messages, know that very little communicates faster than a first impression. In other words, look up from your smart phone and remember the basics of face-to-face communication. Thirty-eight percent of an impression is based on voice, 55 percent is based on body and 7 percent is based on words. Whether you are a sole proprietor or you work with a FORTUNE 50 company, be aware that industry leaders are observing your body language when making business decisions that concern you. Consider these eight business etiquette tips about body language: 1. Appearance: A first impression is created the moment you present yourself in public. Appearance reflects an individual’s respect for themselves and the situation. Clothing indicates your understanding of the big picture, so dress according to the business environment and company culture. Coffee-stained clothes, sleepy eyes, scuffed-up shoes, chipped nail polish and messy hair all send a message and according to recent studies, can even hinder your ability to get promoted. 2. Attention: While an impeccable appearance shows a successful business “snapshot,” your movements could instantly tell a different story. Walk with purpose. Showing energy and confidence in the way you walk, sit and stand makes an impression. Practice restraint, listen to others and remember that silence is a powerful ally. 3. Face: Our facial expressions are crucial to body language. Are you

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effectively monitoring your facial expressions on a daily basis? Smiles, frowns, arched eyebrows, flared nostrils, grimaces and bitten lips can convey far more than you’d expect – from happiness or contentment to approval, shock, disappointment, fear or anger. Don’t let your facial expression expose more than you’d like your interaction to convey. 4. Eyes: In the United States, eye contact shows interest, confidence and respect, and builds trust. It is polite to look at the person speaking and avoid distractions. In conversation, glance away periodically to reflect on the person’s comments. Steady eye contact is intimidating. When speaking with others in a group, hold and make eye contact with everyone in the group. Avoid focusing on one person to the exclusion of others. 5. Hands: While a handshake is recognized worldwide as a social and professional greeting, improper hand movement can signal immaturity or nervousness. Some people “talk with their hands,” distracting their colleagues away from the conversation. Be aware of your hand movement. Eliminating unnecessary gestures requires effort and willpower. Avoid fidgeting, doodling, nail biting and picking up your phone during business meetings. 6. Personal space and distance: Different cultures maintain different standards of personal space. In “The Hidden Dimension” by Edward T. Hall, personal territory for the United States is broken down into four categories. Intimate distance is 0 to 18 inches, personal distance (good friends, family members) is from 18

inches to 4 feet, social distance (acquaintances) is 4 to 12 feet and public distance (speaking) is 12 to 25 or more feet. If you stand too close, you may be perceived as pushy or aggressive. If you stand too far away, you may be seen as disinterested. 7. Standing: When standing, remember to keep your back straight, middle torso in alignment with your backbone, shoulders back and head up. Stand with your feet from 4 to 8 inches apart, and face the person with whom you are speaking. During conversation, leaning slightly toward a person indicates interest. Leaning away indicates a desire to depart. It is polite to keep your hands at your sides. Crossed arms, placing hands in your pockets, hand wringing and slouching may signify dismissal, aggression and uneasiness. 8. Sitting: Many people do not realize that their seated position and behavior are just as telling as their standing posture. Numerous business deals have been ruined due to improper placement of feet and legs or even foot or knee jiggling actions that signify anxiety, nervousness or ignorance of business customs. It is best to sit with a straight back and both feet flat on the floor. Females are advised to sit with their knees together. Males should avoid sitting with their legs spread wide open or in the “figure 4” position. Awareness of body language in business settings is the first step in ensuring successful interaction with colleagues and clients. Win the deal before you say a word! Let your body communicate success, confidence and interest.


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NSIDE tech

Business Communications Provider Considerations Navigate the numerous options in the market by asking yourself the right questions to find the best provider for you and your business. By: [Don Overbagh]

Communications is the lifeblood of your business. Whether that communications be with prospects, clients or employees, your voice and data infrastructure needs to be reliable, clear and competitively priced. Today’s choices are vast, and it may seem difficult to choose the right solution for your business. Your ideal solution should increase efficiency and reliability at a reasonable cost. Options range from traditional phone providers to companies now offering VoIP and Cloud PBX services. What’s the difference, you ask? The answer: plenty!

Questions to ask • How reliable is the communications provider I

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am considering? How old is the network? If I have a problem, whom do I contact, and what kind of track record do they have for service? • Who is their network really built for? Is their primary customer residential or business? • What kinds of services can they offer? Is it just POTS (plain old telephone service), or can they deliver a whole host of advanced features to help sharpen your business image while increasing efficiency? • Who owns the network that will actually be attaching to your physical building? Some providers have their own central office facility, but are dependent on another provider for the last mile to bring the service to your doorstep. This means if problems arise, you’re dealing with multiple com-

panies, which sometimes causes substantial delay in troubleshooting or repair. • What disaster recovery plans do they have? • What is all of this going to cost me? What is the cost of the long distance? What are the hidden taxes and fees? Taking time to consider these questions could save you not only a headache, but more importantly, loss of customers and revenue. A bonus question to ask yourself: Is choosing the least expensive provider always the best answer? For more information, contact Don Overbagh, account representative for Systemseven, at don@systemseven.net or 361-826-0606.


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NSIDE real estate

The Smart Solution Braselton Homes introduces the smart way for you to maintain your peace of mind with smart homes, today’s trend and tomorrow’s standard in homebuilding. [special to nside]

Imagine walking out of the house, driving to work and only then remembering you didn’t set the home alarm system or turn up the thermostat. Now imagine being able to do those things remotely from your smart device. Braselton smart homes offer full home integration, meaning each new home can be move-in ready, set up with features that can be controlled by an onsite touch screen or offsite by a smart phone or iPad. What sounds like movie magic is a reality for Corpus Christi homeowners thanks to Braselton Homes, Corpus Christi’s premier homebuilder. “People live busy lives, and sometimes we forget the little things,” said Bart Braselton, executive

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vice president of Braselton Homes. “Smart homes offer peace of mind. You can manage your home from your phone or iPad and even be notified when there’s a breach in security. It’s convenient, reliable and affordable.” No more setting up your flat-screen TV over the fireplace and having the wires looking messy, or having to figure out where to place your cable box. Forget about staying up nights getting your computers to talk to each other and the printer. Smart homes are fully integrated, meaning the planning begins as the house is being built and is ready for you to plug and play. Braselton packages range from $400 to upwards

of $25,000 with accessibility through a master smart home panel located in the utility room. Customizing your tech features is as easy as picking paint colors and floor tile, according to Braselton. The desire for homeowners to convert their home into a smart home has grown significantly in recent years, said Ben Bearden, owner of Corpus Christibased Avitech. His company provides professional audio/video and security design, equipment, sales, installation and service. “Smart home is not really a household term yet because most people think that smart home automation is unaffordable and reject the concept before exploring the possibilities,” Bearden said. “But they’re


Scan QR code for more information

more familiar with the term than we give them credit for. Technology is second nature to the younger generation. They don’t have to know how it works for them to get its full benefits.” Soon after Jessica Hall and her husband bought a home in October, they began to modify it into a smart home. They hired several people to install wireless Internet, a home security system and a surround sound system inside and out. “We would have saved time and money had these options been available when we were having our home built,” said Hall, 28. The smart home concept is one Braselton began developing more than a year ago. It’s something only a few innovative homebuilders across the country are offering. “When we saw a direction toward green building, we led

the way in Corpus Christi,” Braselton said. “This is the new direction homebuilding is taking, and we are at the forefront of that bullet train, as well. What we call a new trend will become the standard in 10 years’ time.”

Bart Braselton is the executive vice president of Braselton Homes, the Coastal Bend’s oldest and largest homebuilder and neighborhood developer. Winning many local, state and national awards, Braselton Homes is consistently ranked in the nation’s top 200 builders by Builder Magazine. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Braselton is the third generation of Braseltons building in the Bay Area. You can view Braselton Homes online at www.braseltonhomes.com or on Facebook. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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NSIDE real estate

The Art of Construction For local carpentry and construction company Bella Construction, every home is a model home. By: [Richard M. Rector]

Have you ever had people tell you they would come to look at some work at your home and not show up? Have you ever received a proposal from a contractor and paid the money, only to have that contractor not fulfill the agreement? Long story short, this is why Bella Construction is busy right now. “My kitchen cabinets are a mess! I hate my kitchen!” “Our neighbors have an open floor plan kitchen. Why can’t we blow out this wall?” Fortunately – or unfortunately – Bella Construction has been awarded jobs simply because we have shown up and delivered a typewritten proposal. And while this is sad, it has been easy for us to separate ourselves from our competition. We do quality work. We are professional. We have fair pricing. To be completely frank, we believe people should do what they say they are going to do. Construction, while requiring a lot of experience, is not difficult (almost anyone can read a tape measure). We believe carpentry and construction can be taken to an artistic level. Yes, this is construction; there is going to be dust. But we strive to treat every home as we would our own. Every home is a model home.

Bella Construction is a local construction company that specializes in commercial and residential renovation and new construction. For more information, contact Richard M. Rector at bellaconstruction@gmail. com, 361-442-3899 (direct) or 361-851-2009 (fax).

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Luxurious Homes Exclusive Neighborhoods

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Braselton Homes is the Largest New Home Builder and Neighborhood Developer in the Corpus Christi Bay Area; for over 65 years, and 3 generations, the Braselton Family has been building Corpus Christi. Braselton Homes has been consistently ranked as one of the TOP BUILDERS in the United States, and has won numerous local, state and national awards. Thousand of families in the Coastal Bend have trusted the Braseltons with their home. The Exclusive Builder of the Eco-Home™ which reduces homeowner utility bills by 50%, and the Smart Home™, the only TechReady Home in South Texas, Braselton builds homes from the $110’s to the $450’s, all across the Corpus Christi Bay Area.

EXCLUSIVE BRASELTON NEIGHBORHOODS VISTA From the 350’s to 500’s ★ LAGO EVAN 774-2266 VISTA From the 150’s to 400’s ★ RANCHO EVAN 774-2266 COUNTRY CLUB From the 200’s ★ NORTHSHORE JANN 816-3848 LANDING From the 160’s ★ MOORE’S JANN 816-3848 BRISAS AT RANCHOVISTA From the 130’s ★ LAS JIM 739-0549 VILLAGE From the 110’s ★ BARCELONA EVAN 774-2266 1

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For details visit or call: www.braseltonhomes.com 361.774.2266

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NSIDE drive

Perfection Redefined Using every inch to the fullest with a number of features for comfort and convenience, the 2012 BMW 3 Series brings forth the future. By: [Chris Hudson]

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They say it could be the best car ever made – a living legend, born again, a benchmark sat so high that it leaves the competition stuck in the mud. An effort to locate negative press on the new BMW 3 Series will end in frustration blended with a feeling of self-doubt. It can’t be that great, can it? Why would the press speak so highly of this German-born sedan? Why? It’s simple: It’s perfect. One look at the new 3 Series and viewers notice its sporty curves and classy bends. Its big brother, the 7 Series, finally lets it into the showroom without a scoff and displays a slight bit of jealousy at the shower of attention it receives.

underpowered, BMW has placed its celebrated twin turbo four in the new 328i. The powerplant is superior in every way to the exiting six-cylinder engine. It is more powerful, more economical and quicker. The engine produces up to 240 hp and 255 lb.-ft of torque while effortlessly thrusting its eight-speed transmission to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. What is the most impressive element of the new 328i? It has to be the fuel economy. Under the title Efficient Dynamics, BMW has implemented numerous features, all running (or in some cases not running) in sync with their main mission: to reduce fuel consumption and harmful emissions.

modern appeal, offers a sense of clean spaciousness and harmony through the use of colors and textures. BMW has offered enough possible combinations to order a truly unique automobile. “Comfort and convenience” is a phrase often used today by car companies, and BMW pours it on. One will find options such as Surround View, giving the driver a virtual overhead view of the car and its surroundings. Comfort access allows the driver to keep the key deep in its staying place during unlocking and locking doors, starting the car or opening the trunk, which can be done with your foot. Remaining is BMW’s Ultimate Service. The

It sits super sexy with a stance that leaves it ready to pounce. An open driver’s door leads to a smooth flow of interior lines and touch-me textures. The inviting cockpit is angled toward the driver a gentle seven degrees. A quick seat, and the driver has essentially plugged into the road with easy access to all controls. The new 3 Series is now longer, wider and taller. BMW’s highly sought-after think tank produced a car that uses every inch to the fullest. A rear-seat passenger will notice more legroom, massive headroom and the luxurious comfort expected in a BMW. The trunk has added over a cubic foot, putting it amongst the largest in its class. A quick fact: BMW’s world champion F1 car produced 1350 horsepower out of a four-cylinder engine. Having now eliminated any argument that a BMW four-cylinder engine might be

Using innovative technologies such as the Auto Start Stop function (which shuts the engine off when it is not needed) and brake energy regeneration, BMW has brought forth the future. The new 328i is capable of achieving close to 40 mpg on the highway and is no stranger to displaying mpg ratings consistently in the 30s. Brilliant. BMW has created three independent appearance lines for its new 2012 sedan. Each line contains its own elements that offer a particular feel and look. The Luxury Line emits a classy, sophisticated appearance by using minimum amounts of high-gloss chrome in the right places, coupled with a beautiful multi-spoke alloy wheel. The Sport Line, with its numerous visual accents, gives the car a look of being in motion at a standstill. Finally, the Modern Line, with its ultra-

package offers the famous free maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles and runs in conjunction with the new vehicle warranty and unlimited mileage roadside assistance. The combination produces the ultimate peace of mind. As the new BMW 3 Series rolls out of showrooms across the nation, fortunate buyers are grinning a sly smile of guilty pleasure. The owners have joined an elite group: a family of BMW owners, taking pride in their automobiles and realizing that they have something special. They own a car with emissions that now include excellence.

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For more information, contact Chris Hudson of BMW of Corpus Christi at 361-991-5555 (phone), 361-654-2557 (fax) or chris.hudson@bmwofcc. com.


The Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds 1213 Terry Shamsie Blvd., Robstown TX 78380 At the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, clients are extremely valued. We believe in our state of the art equipment and over-achieving staff. The Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds professional staff will help with any size Meeting, Fundraiser, Holiday Party, Employee Appreciation Celebration, and Much More… Call us today 361-387-9000 or visit www.rmbfairgrounds.com

How You Doin’? Philosophy What makes us stand out from the rest? Our 10 goals to ensure you a successful event 1. Customer First 2. Golden Rule 3. Listen 4. Think “Yes” 5. Be Professional

6. Positive Attitude 7. 24-Hour Rule 8. Everybody Sells 9. Enthusiasm 10. Do It Now N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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NSIDE espaÑol

Invierte en tus sueños Hotel B Cozumel, una exitosa fusión de lo tradicional y lo contemporáneo Por: [Juan de Lascurain] Hola, Espero que se encuentren bien. Ya casí llega el verano y con él muchas oportunidades para hacer cosas divertidas. El otro día me puse a pensar en todas las cosas que he podido hacer en mi vida. He tenido la oportunidad de lograr muchos de mis sueños y metas por la inversión que he hecho en ellos. Mucha gente tiene un sueño pero en lugar de invertir en eso se la pasan gastando todo su dinero y tiempo en otras cosas. Si tienes un sueño te quiero motivar a que inviertas en él, aunque sea de poquito a poquito. No importa la cantidad, sino la calidad y la consistencia de lo que inviertes, que es lo que llega a hacer la diferencia. En Semana Santa tuve la opor-

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tunidad de ir a Cozumel a montar una exposición en el Hotel B. Tuve la oportunidad de platicar con la dueña y esto fue lo que nos dijo acerca de su sueño.

Beatriz Tinajero

Juan de Lascurain: Como surgió Hotel B? Beatriz Tinajero: Desde hace un par de años empecé a explorar maneras para impulsar el emprendimiento social en México y en particular negocios que, además de tener una propuesta interesante, pudieran tener un impacto social incorporando a pequeños productores. Yo trabajaba en la Oficina de la Presidencia de México y estaba pensando desde donde podría impulsar mejor el emprendimiento social del sector

público, privado o a través de ONGs. En diciembre de 2010 vine con mi novio a pasar año nuevo y me hospedé en el entonces Hotel Fontan. Vi un lugar espectacular, pero abandonado; con un enorme potencial, pero sin alguien que lo guiara. Cabe mencionar que Héctor, mi entonces novio, actual esposo, y yo, siempre tuvimos la idea de perseguir nuestros sueños frente al mar. Al estar aquí fueron encajando las piezas: yo podría impulsar el emprendimiento social convirtiendo al Hotel Fontan en un hotel con un concepto innovador que incorporara a pequeños productores y artesanos en su cadena de valor y podríamos vivir frente al mar. Empezó un proceso de negociación con los dueños del hotel hasta que alcanzamos un acuerdo: yo transformaría su hotel,

lo administraría y ellos me darían la libertad de imprimirle mi concepto, nombre y sueño. Entonces empezó el proceso de lluvia de ideas, la formación del equipo creativo, la selección de nombres y empezar a vivir este sueño. Mi idea desde el principio fue fusionar un concepto mexicano, tomando elementos tradicionales e incorporando a pequeños artesanos, con una propuesta contemporánea y con elementos innovadores. En mi equipo creativo estuvieron diseñadores y arquitectos muy jóvenes, artesanos de distintos lugares de México, y también conté con la asesoría de personalidades reconocidos a nivel internacional. Estas personas fueron, y continúan siendo, varias y enormes contribuciones que al final encajaban con la idea de crear un espacio en constante evolución que se continúe enriqueciendo con cada persona que viene y decide involucrarse. Es una especie de taller vivo que invita a todos los talentos – músicos, pintores, escultores, artesanos, diseñadores, bailarines y más. Pero tengo que admitir que el evento que más estoy esperando es el taller Arte-Sano, en el que participará el sobrino de los fundadores de los alebrijes en Oaxaca, Manuel Jimenez, en colaboración con Juan de Lascurain. Tendremos un espacio para que expongan su obra, seguido por un taller para que gente de todos lados aprenda a hacer su propio alebrije y un taller para los artesanos de Cozumel. Mi idea es que el artesano saque su parte artística y potencialice sus diseños y que el hotel se convierta en un pretexto para abrir sus mercados. En un futuro mi objetivo es trabajar con varios artesanos, crear un catálogo y empezar a tocar puertas con otros hoteles y empresas para que incorporen sus productos. Creo que podemos exponenciar el impacto social del sector turístico si incorporamos a los pequeños productores y artesanos en nuestra cadena de valor y que, además, ofrecemos un valor agregado para nuestros visitantes. Para más información sobre Hotel B, visite www.hotelbcozumel.com. Para más información sobre Juan de Lascurain, envíe correo electrónico a delascurain@mail.com o siga @dreambigworld en Twitter.


THE LEADERS IN GOLD BUYING

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photographer: dustin ashcraft clothing provided by: le’vu boutique jewelry provided by: sirena water wear (port aransas)

style & substance


Danielle Catherine Dodson Student, Jewelry Designer, Surfer

photographer: dustin ashcraft clothing provided by: le’vu boutique jewelry provided by: sirena water wear (port aransas)


“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge you are never alone.”

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photographer: dustin ashcraft clothing provided by: le’vu boutique jewelry provided by: sirena water wear (port aransas)


I am currently just focusing on getting done with my kinesiology degree and designing jewelry. I absolutely love creating and designing new pieces. It is not only a way to clear my head, but I love when I come up with something new that I am in love with. I get really excited, and it fuels me to always keep creating more different and new pieces. Words to live by: “Live, love, laugh,” and “Do unto others as others would do unto you.” Both simple classic sayings, but if you can live by these couple of things, you will live a happy, healthy, honest life.

photographer: dustin ashcraft clothing provided by: le’vu boutique N S I D E (port C O A S T A Laransas) B E N D 61 jewelry provided by: sirena water wear


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5017 Saratoga Blvd. 5017 S AR ATOGA S UI T E 15 1 COR PUS CH R I S T I , TE XA S 78413 361.991.25 59

S                  L                      T E L L A S E C R E T S                  F                   C A U S E A S C E N E O                  G E T C A R R IE D A W A Y B E E X C E P T IO N A L L Y F A B U L O U S A N D S H O P A T L E ’V U

eee FOLLOW US ON

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TO TO2 LOUNGE

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6646 Staples 361.906.2249 N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

FaCEBOOK: TO2 & The Office Lounge

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Sushi and dining at both locations Available for private events

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Town & Country Cafe Breakfast served all day / Meeting room available upon request 4228 S. Alameda / Corpus Christi, TX 78412

361.992.0360 Hours: Mon-Fri: 6am-3:30pm, Sat: 6am-4pm, Sun: 6am-3pm

AN Unexpected LOCATION FOR Extraordinary MEETINGS The award winning Ortiz Center is the most strikingly modern meeting and banquet facility of it’s kind in South Texas. Let the uniqueness of the Ortiz Center and our professional and attentive staff make your next meeting an event to remember! Contact us to come for a visit and see for yourself! 402 Harbor Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78401 OrtizCenter.com • 361-879-0125 66

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FOR YOUR HOME

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LETICIA MORALES INSURANCE AGENCY 4949 Everhart Rd Ste 106B Corpus Christi 78411 361.723.0401 Licensed Since 1997

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Professional hand wash detailing for all cars, trucks, RVs and boats. Window Tint (Vehicles / Buildings) Truck Accessories Spray in Bedliner / Undercoating

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Power Washing of Commercial, Industrial and Residential Property John 14:6 Family-owned and operated. Marine Veteran Victor Ricondo. N S I D E C O A S TA L B E N D

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Whether you are buying or selling, it matters who you choose as your realtor. Mary Jane Boone (361) 563-1445 Cell (361) 992-9231 Office mary.boone@ coldwellbanker.com Se habla espa単ol

An agent with integrity and a personal touch.

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The Ultimate Driving Machine®

BMW of CORPUS CHRISTI

4225 S. Staples • Corpus Christi, TX 78411

prakash.punjabi@bmwofcc.com

361.991.5555 Office 361.991.5791 Fax

Prakash M. Punjabi

361.876.2741 Cell

Maintenance Cost over 4 years / 50,000 miles Oil Change Windshield Wiper Blades Brakes - Incl. Rotor and Pads Scheduled Service Inspections Belts Lights Roadside Assistance

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TOTAL $0 FREE BMW LOANER CAR

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NSIDE Coastal Bend June/July 2012