Awards & Highlights from 119th Annual Dinner

Thursday, November 10th, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 119th Annual Dinner & Awards gala. A crowd of over 300 came together to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the business community and the Chamber over the past 12 months. And this year, we had a lot to celebrate even in times of change and uncertainty.

We officially welcomed new Chamber President & CEO Page Michel. She brings over 20 years of experience to San Marcos, and we’re confident she will lead the organization to reach new heights!

The main focus of the event was to recognize the Passing of the Gavel between the Board Chairmen and honor the business community along with education and non-profit partners.

Passing of the Gavel

Incoming Board Chair Thomas Curtis presents a ceremonial gavel to Outgoing Chair, Matthew Worthington. Photo by: Brad Cesak

Outgoing Board Chairman Matthew Worthington of PAM Health reflected on the past year, while Incoming Chairman, Thomas Curtis of Chuck Nash Auto Group, laid out a roadmap for the year ahead. Under his leadership, the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Staff are dedicated to Driving Change in the community!

Citizen of the Year

Chamber President, Page Michel (Left) poses with 2022 Citizen of the Year John Navarrette and Chamber Board Chair Thomas Curtis (Right). Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

The 2022 Citizen of the Year has a long history of service and generous giving.

Community involvement is a staple of his life.

He has served on the San Marcos Industrial Foundation, San Marcos Chamber, San Marcos Women’s Sports Foundation, San Marcos CISD Education Foundation, Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts, CTMC Foundation Board, United Way, San Marcos LBJ Museum Board, plus several committees and boards at Texas State University.

He has worked diligently to help the students of Texas State University through supporting endowed scholarships for athletics, business, fine arts and communication.

The San Marcos Chamber is honored to announce the 2022 Citizen of the Year…John Navarrette!

Business of the Year

(Left to Right) Chamber President Page Michel, tekRESCUE CEO Randy Bryan, Divided Sky Roofing & Solar Founder John Hardy, Chamber Board Chair Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

This award is presented annually to a business that has had exceptional growth, job creation, revenue growth, innovative products or services, exemplary customer service, volunteerism, and demonstrated economic support of the overall San Marcos area business community.

This year’s winner had an interesting beginning.

It started out as an Internet TV show that helped make technology understandable for the average person.

That passion for technology and helping others is what led the business owner to found the company in 2010.

What sets this business apart is its passion and vision.

The owners aim to help your technology work for you, so you can focus on your business.

The Chamber congratulates 2022 Business of the Year Winner… tekRESCUE and owner Randy Bryan!

Emerging Business of the Year

Southern with a French Twist owner Ashley Casebier poses with Chamber President, Page Michel, and Chamber Board Chair, Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

This annual award is given to a business that has been open for less than 3 years. The business is selected based on its recent launch, creation of jobs, innovative products or services, exemplary customer service, and involvement in the overall San Marcos area community.

This business’ story is like something you’d see on the big screen.

Its owner was previously working in a very successful corporate job, but always had a dream of becoming a professional chef.

In 2020, despite being at the height of the COVID Pandemic and shuttered venues, she still pursued her dream and it made it a reality.

Her business filled a niche and her customer base exploded!

The mission of this business is to make San Marcos a strong community of tableside gatherers.

In a world where division, isolation, and loneliness is rampant, this special company strives and succeeds in bringing people together…to share a meal and to build a stronger community.

The 2022 Emerging Business of the Year Award is Southern with a French Twist and owner Ashley Casebier!

Education Partner of the Year

ACCEYSS Network Founder Dr. Shetay Ashford-Hanserd (second from left) poses with Page Michel, Keely Hennig, and Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

This award is annually presented to an Education Partner that is an active member of the San Marcos business community that has made an exemplary contribution to the education of youth in our area.

Launched in 2017, this organization is a grassroots coalition focused on providing underrepresented and underserved youth and families to STEM and Agriculture pathways while infusing Entrepreneurship and the Arts. They help faith-based and grassroots organizations with resources and funding so that the STEEAAM equity gap can be bridged in their communities.

Please join in congratulating the 2022 Education Partner of the Year – ACCEYSS Network and its founder, Dr. Shetay Ashford-Hanserd!

Non-Profit of the Year

Greater San Marcos Youth Council Executive Director Julia Ramsey New (second from right) poses with Page Michel, Jade Dimitri, and Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

This year’s winning non-profit provides services that are truly invaluable to our area’s youth.

In 1986, a group of concerned citizens organized and developed this organization to provide shelter to maltreated children and support services to families.

As a private non-profit, their Children’s Shelter exists as a residential care home for children to develop a trusting relationship with each adult so that they will know that not all grown-ups will hurt them and that they are worthy of love and respect.

Their objective is to reduce child maltreatment, truancy, juvenile delinquency, as well as, increase families’ protective factors and resiliency to crisis.

This is such a vital goal to the future of the children in our community.

The Chamber is honored to announce this year’s Non-Profit of the Year is the Greater San Marcos Youth Council!

Green Business of the Year

Divided Sky Roofing & Solar Founder John Hardy (second from right) poses with Page Michel, Sheila Beck, and Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

Over the past decade, this business has established itself as one of the premier leaders in the country in the roofing industry, becoming a Master Elite Contractor and winning the GAF President’s Award in 2021.

But during this past year, the business took on a new challenge, expanded its impact, and expanded its name.

Through its partnership with GAF, this business is now able to bring Timberline Solar Shingles to Central Texas, adding a way for customers to save money on their electricity costs while being a good steward of the environment.

Please join the Chamber in congratulating our 2022 Green Business of the Year award winner: Divided Sky Roofing & Solar and owner John Hardy!

Ambassador of the Year

Tiffany Quibodeaux (second from right) poses with Page Michel, Susanne Ritter, and Thomas Curtis. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

This award is voted on by the members of the Chamber’s Ambassadors Club. They vote on candidates who have the highest number of points earned during the prior year, plus their service, attitude, professionalism, and personal attributes.

This year’s winner’s involvement in the community goes beyond shaking hands at networking events and ribbon-cuttings.

She has become a mainstay at business and community celebrations. She is always encouraging others to participate in all that the Chamber offers.

She is forward-thinking and works to improve the Ambassadors Club in all that they do.

The Chamber congratulates the 2022 Ambassador of the Year: Tiffany Quibodeaux.

GSMP Corporate Citizen of the Year

David Case (center) poses with Thomas Curtis and GSMP President Jason Giulietti. Photo by: Michelle Mehrens/Rivers Wanted Photography

David Case of Schertz Bank & Trust was recognized as the Greater San Marcos Partnership’s 2022 Corporate Citizen of the Year.

David first came to San Marcos as a student at Southwest Texas State University, and he’s been a proud San Marcos Citizen ever since.

He is the epitome of community involvement, serving on numerous City Boards & Commissions and volunteering for many non-profits in the area, including Sights and Sounds of Christmas, the 2019-20 Chairman of the Chamber Board, and many others.

Congratulations to David Case on this honor!

Thank you to our Annual Dinner Sponsors!

And a huge thanks to these Annual Dinner Silent Auction donors!

Additional Photos from the 119th Annual Dinner & Awards

Guest Blog: LEGIT Intern Experience

By: Daniel AbuJaber

The LEGIT summer internship program has quickly become one of the most notable elements of the summer of 2019 for me. Something that I initially thought to be something that would take away valuable time for me to study pleasantly surprised me with the valuable skills and lessons I learned from my time in it. As I am approaching the end of my time in the program, it is clear to me that the\ time I had has turned out to be just as, if not more, valuable than the time I’ve spent alone studying, working on personal projects and practicing music.

Currently, I am working under Josie Falletta in the San Marcos Main Street Program, which helps to promote local business and maintain the lively downtown area. The project on which I’ve been working on for most of my time in the program was helping to develop the business log which is to be used as a database for a new system in development. I would go from business to business asking for a supervisor or manager to take a few minutes to provide some information about the owner and the business. It was in its own way a science; subtle changes in the words in the introduction or the explanation for the purpose of the survey could drastically increase or decrease the chances of being able to get in contact with someone. It also involved reading the room, seeing how busy the staff were and how many clients they would need to take care of. There were several factors, and each business was different; the whole thing was very dynamic, as the evaluation of what to say or do took place in real-time. Having gone through several trials of this process, I feel as though I gained experience and now feel that I have a better intuition for these decisions than before.

One aspect in particular that I found enjoyable about the Main Street Program is that it acted as a sandbox for me to see how several organizations coordinate and communicate amongst one another. I was glad that my introduction to this sort of environment wasn’t also accompanied by several large responsibilities and tasks. I was dipping my toe in the water rather than being kicked from the nest and being forced to fly, which was a much less stressful environment that I felt was more conducive to learning.

Another thing I found enjoyable about my experience at the Main Street Program was the sheer hospitality of the people there. It was clear that they made a conscious effort to treat all the interns, such as myself, with a sort of respect that isn’t so common in other places, especially larger firms. Even though I was just a high school student, I was trusted with responsibility and felt very welcome in the office. Overall it was a nice balance between responsibility and not being entirely too liable for mistakes.

The experience was incredible, and if I have the time I think that I would do it again next year. don’t think I could have asked for a better environment for learning the ropes of the modern workplace.

Daniel AbuJaber is an incoming Sophmore at San Marcos Academy and completed his LEGIT Internship on August 7th, 2019.

Guest Blog — Keeping It Simple: Breaking Down my Time at the Chamber

By: Kristina Jingling, 2017 Texas State University Graduate

Simplicity? A word often forgotten in the day-to-day grind. As professionals and students, we often keep “adding” — adding words and sentences to essays, images, layers, projects at school and work, and on top of all that, responsibilities. Although adding is often a good thing, there is something to be said about simplicity.

During my last semester as a public relations student, I was faced with the opportunity of finding one final internship before graduation. As most Texas State students do, I first looked to Austin and San Antonio to find that internship that would give me the cutting-edge upon graduation. But, after living in San Marcos for 2 years, I realized I wanted to work in the community I have grown to love.  I was advised of an opportunity with the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce, located just on the edge of campus. Was it that convenient, that simple?

I soon learned more about the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce and believed it was the perfect fit for me. I learned more than I expected during my time with the Chamber about event planning and executing, writing, press relations, design, community and simplicity in work.

I learned that often simple is better when it comes to designing graphics. When it comes to design, I can execute putting concepts together and make something look cohesive, but my time at the Chamber taught me that you don’t have to use fancy programs or go above and beyond to make something look great. For example, one of my tasks this semester was helping create the marketing materials for the 115th Annual Dinner. I spent hours in Adobe InDesign creating our invitation. It didn’t develop exactly how I pictured it, so I moved to a more familiar platform to create a draft that embodied my vision and ultimately produced the entire theme. Simply put, it is important to remember to use what you know best and go from there.

Aside from design, another valuable takeaway was that you need a variety of communication skills in order to be successful in this career field. One day you will be writing fun social media posts and another will be spent taking photos at events or writing press releases. Understanding how to talk to people and build relationships is also a major component of living and working in the Chamber world. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone when meeting people this semester and am glad I experienced that before graduating.

I enjoyed that no two days were the same; adapting to your surroundings and being flexible is a crucial part of being a communications professional. The Chamber of Commerce world is ever-changing and I am fortunate I was able to witness this firsthand. I believe it is important in today’s day and age for businesses to be involved with students and to remember — simple is key.

Simply, I feel lucky that I was able to experience this transition and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Kristina interned with the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce in the Fall of 2017.

Guest Blog: An Internship with a Reality Check

By: Abby Trahan, Texas State University Student

The first day of my internship my mind was racing with questions and potential opportunities that  awaited me at the Chamber. I was excited to work for something that was larger than myself. Not to mention I could walk to my internship, wear business casual clothing, pack a lunch, and have the feeling of being a young professional. I was under the impression that that’s all it takes, right?

I was naive.

I was met face to face with the reality that this internship was not just about what I could do for the Chamber, but who I was.

In order for a Chamber to be successful, I learned that it is not about doing the task, but how you do the task. Not creating an event where members network with one another, but how you create that event, and what type of environment is fostered.

A lightbulb went off when I realized that character and personality is what matters in the service industry. Anyone can gain a skill but how you showcase the skill is crucial. This is relevant in my field of study, Public Administration.

My internship had very little to do with the tasks that I could complete. It was more about what ideas and perspective I was able to share. It was an opportunity for the Chamber to gain insight about millennials and their perspective of the business sector and how they understand community.

The San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce does not just want development for the businesses here, they recognize the importance of keeping the whole community working cohesively and efficiently to ensure the most beneficial economic development can occur.

Many of my peers have sought internships in some of the cities nearby, such as, Austin or San Antonio. I wanted to be in San Marcos because I saw the value of giving back to a community that has given me so much. I saw an opportunity to learn what exactly happens to a small community when all of a sudden there is rapid growth. So why not seek an educational opportunity from the pathfinder in Texas, San Marcos?

This internship has helped me to see what it means to give to something actually much larger than myself. In the service industry there is a lot more intertwining and individual character that comes into play than my naive self first believed.

Abby Trahan interned with the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce for the summer of 2017. 

Guest Blog: Summer Externing Happened So Fast

By: Susan Perez, English Language Arts Teacher, Goodnight Middle School

Last school year, SMCISD, in conjunction with the San Marcos Area of Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Workforce Solutions, offered the opportunity for secondary teachers to be externs for participating businesses, known as the Summer Educator Externship Program. This program, in particular, is a chance for teachers to immerse in a job for three days in order to bring back “real-world” experiences to their students. A planning day with the other externs is set later in the summer to tailor lessons based on the educator’s experience. In its second year, 17 teachers have joined to continue the growth of business-to-education partnerships.

Mike Doyle, CTE Director at the high school, leads this program and made my high school aspirations come true when he paired me with the San Marcos Daily Record. Hour one on the job had me wading in the river in a dress, attempting to get some information from scientists on the current status of the Texas wild rice. I was way out of my comfort zone, trying to tell a story without exactly knowing which questions to ask. I had never considered myself a shy person, but I was nervous and lost. Luckily, the photographer, Denise Cathey, had literally jumped in with me to get the interview going. I got the information I needed and wrote my first piece that day. The legendary Anita Miller, Editor in Chief, approved.

Upon reflecting, I was reminded of the importance of feeling uncomfortable in order to push yourself and grab that feeling of accomplishment. I had been a middle school teacher for 15 years at that point, so I have a strong understanding of my role as an educator. As a journalist, though, all of my background knowledge came from a high school class. I appreciated the vote of confidence from Ms. Miller, despite all of my personal doubts. It solidified for me that my own students need to feel that discomfort sometimes where they’re just “thrown in” to explore, so they can also feel that elevated sense of pride upon achievement.

The following school year, I shared my experiences with my students–my feelings on the first day and obviously, the connections to journalism with the writing skills I was teaching them. I even reached out to the sports writer of the Daily Record, Ishmael Johnson, and asked him to create a video on how to write a sports piece. He made an amazing instructional video for my students who used his instruction to gain confidence about writing about football and volleyball games. Our athletic director posted these student sports writers’ pieces to Rattler Nation online, and these young writers felt proud to be published.

Fast-forward a year, and I’m partnered with Samantha Brown, Vice President of Communications and Events for the Chamber of Commerce. Samantha’s job takes a special combination of big-picture thinking, persuasive abilities, listening skills, and professionalism. I look forward to reiterating to my students that their intense texting skills will not necessarily translate to the work force. Instead, a well-crafted email with the proper tone and word choice can be the first or last hurdle in getting what you want from your boss, client, whomever. But the in-person conversations matter most. Many students have to be taught to look at you while you’re speaking, to listen with intention, and to be civil to learning partners. Now I have concrete examples of the importance of these soft skills from this second externship that are not my usual stories of what it’s like working in education.

In sum, these back-to-back externships have been valuable to me as both a teacher and a born-in-San-Marcos local. I can now say with certainty that businesses should be more involved in our education. The adolescent brain is immature–it has a hard time recognizing future outcomes. I know many of my students have difficulty visualizing themselves in any particular job, especially when their families do not own a business. In fact, many of my students are unaware of the businesses in downtown San Marcos because they don’t go there; they don’t have the access. If we, as teachers, are doing everything we can to provide the knowledge and skills to create productive citizens, we need real examples of where these skills could be used. For those students who have more mobility patronizing the businesses of San Marcos and having parental support to help them visualize their career trajectories, we want to keep these students in our town. Many of my best and brightest students leave our community without a look back. A business who reaches out to secondary schools in a positive way leaves an imprint on these students’ memories that could make a difference upon graduation when deciding their life choices. If my short stints have left such an impression on me, imagine what repeated opportunities could do for our youth.

 

Susan Perez worked with the Chamber from 6/19/17 – 6/21/17.

 

“Phishing” what is it, how do I recognize it, and what do I do?

By: Samantha Brown

Before joining the staff at the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce I spend 3+ years working for the United States House of Representatives and each year I was required to do annual security training, with emphasis on email; specifically, phishing.

During my tenure in Congress we experienced the largest breach in federal staff security ever, with 21.5 million federal employees, contract employees, applicants and family members having their information stolen (per the Office of Personal Management, OPM) and at a great cost to the American people as tax dollars currently fund the credit monitoring for all effected.

Government agencies of all sizes are a target, they keep records for a sizeable amount of personnel and usually have more extensive personal information than private companies. Unfortunately, private companies are not spared from phishing.

What it is – people spoofing relevant email address in hopes to collect personal information for tax fraud, security clearances, and virus implementation.

How to spot it – Phishing emails typically come from an “inside” email asking for, specific data or come with a subject of “urgent” or “account needs to be verified”. Any email asking for your Social Security Number is suspicious, if there is a link to verify, be weary. Be cautious, these emails look legitimate but are often slightly off. If an email requesting personal information from your employer comes through, but is not from a specific person you recognize, take note. Look for discrepancy in name spelling and what they are asking for. E-mails usually come with note of urgency ” immediate action required”.

What you can do – Call the department requesting the information and verify the request. Call the person you received the email from and validate the email. If no one recognizes the request; do not answer.

How to report it – First and foremost contact your IT department (should you have one) so they can notify staff. Notify all superiors as soon as possible so they can also alert staff to “phishing” and then subsequently notify their banking entity for fraud monitoring.

Forward all suspected phishing emails to spam@uce.gov.

For more information and additional resources please visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing.

If you have additional questions please send them to samanthab@sanmarcostexas.com.