The Gala committee has started preparations for our annual event celebrating you!
Every year Chamber members come together to celebrate the year with great food, live entertainment, and a fun evening at our Chairman’s Gala.
This year’s Gala theme, Diamonds and Denim, will be held at the Junior League of Houston on Friday, September 21. The event space is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression to those in attendance with an unforgettable night of dancing and dining.
As in years past, a formal dinner is to be expected, along with dancing and live and silent auctions. Here’s the opportunity to catch up with fellow members and celebrate The Chamber’s 30th Anniversary servicing our local businesses and community.
For more information and how to purchase tickets, follow the link to our Events Page.
Celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit
Meet the alumni:
Alli Jarrett, Harold’s
Why did you apply to the program?
After two years of owning my own business I decided I needed to get out more and meet people to work on business development, thus I joined the National Association of Women Business Owners. I did not get in the program the first time and was disappointed, but the Outreach Director encouraged me to apply again. I share this because if there is anyone who really wants to do something to make a difference in their lives and at first they don’t succeed – try again. I applied again and my reasoning was three-fold:
- To get off of the island I was on and surround myself with people smarter than me, most of whom have similar issues that I have.
- Force myself to decrease some of the day-to-day things in my business and push my managers to make decisions.
- The opportunity to be a part of a giant network of people with whom I could learn from and do business with that would add personal and professional growth in my life.
What growth have you experienced since graduating?
Hurricane Harvey hit just after my graduation, so it put a wrench in a few things, but I did not let it stop my staff and me from working on our growth plan. While our revenue was down in Q4, all due to the hurricane, our overall year was up 8%.
We purchased a Food Trailer in October and began implementing our plans to grow our catering business and increase our slower times with business networking groups. In addition to this I formed another business, Low Tide, which is a seafood concept and will open later this summer 2018 in Finn Hall in downtown Houston.
How has that growth impacted you and your business?
Implementing the growth plan is an on-going process and will continue to be because if we are not growing in some way personally and professionally then I/we are not an impactful business. For example, the Food Trailer came with many new experiences and we are still learning to perfect our systems and operations.
However, while we are steadily working to grow our food trailer sales, because people “see” the trailer, we are booking private events either with the food trailer or at our full-service restaurant in our banquet department. The marketing impact of having an 18-foot trailer parked or being pulled down the highway is noticeable. The personal growth has allowed me to say “yes” to things I would have said “no” to the past 4 years and “no” to the things I should have already been saying “no” to the past 4 years.
How have you, as a leader, grown?
Since graduating from the program, I am a much better delegator. Rather than taking action on something I used to do I am more trusting of my staff and know that it is important for them to make mistakes and learn just like I have. I am humbled that The Leader newspaper, in my neighborhood of the Heights in Houston, Texas, recognized me as 2017 Leader of the Year.
A recent example was saying yes to attending the 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni Summit in Washington, DC, as the timing could not have been more challenging because the only chef I had ever had was departing and it was Valentine’s Day, a solid day for restaurants. I chose to go to DC and work on our business and learn from the incredible line-up of business owners and trust and have faith in my staff they would get the job done and they did.
How would you summarize your program experience?
The program gave, what I consider, a ‘practical executive MBA’ in 4 months and a lifetime of alumni relations. I never worked as hard as I did in college as I did in the 10,000 Small Businesses program and I am thankful that I had the opportunity and that I gave myself the away time from my business to help grow my business. Further, I purchased our food trailer and had the graphics done by fellow classmates in Cohort 19, so the program provided an immediate network of people I wanted to do business with and who wanted to help me.
What advice would you give to the other small business owners preparing for growth?
- If you really want to grow your business you can, but you have to make changes and often do things that are out of your comfort zone. By nature, I am a risk taker.
- I believe it is important for you to surround yourself with smart and positive questioners, and those whom care about you and push you to think about all angles.
- Don’t let the negative energy people take all of your air. No matter the business you are in people like doing business with people they like so whether you have a product or a service business providing services through hospitable ways is crucial.
- Growing has “pains” whether it is with staffing, marketing, or needing more money. As much preparation as you do, I have found being nimble and knowing you may have to make a new decision is an important obstacle that one must jump over or in to.
How are you supporting the local community?
One of the main reasons I started my own business was so that I could be a part of the community and serve the community not only with great food, beverages, service and southern hospitality through my restaurant, but also by being involved with community activities. My “why” is I want to make more money, so I can give more away. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey we fed first responders and helped those in shelters who needed food, clothing and supplies as well as conduct fundraising efforts for several of our staff members who lost everything.
I’m proud that our company hired a member from The Summerhouse, a place in the Heights for adults with intellectual disabilities, and that we were the first company to employ one of their members. Our Summerhouse member has worked with us for a year and a half. Providing this opportunity is huge in her life and her parents’ lives because she has a job, can earn money and be a part of our business family.
I’m active with the Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce, 19th Street Merchants Association, where we host many of our meetings to make improvements for the independently owned businesses on our street, I serve on the Vestry at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Texas Golf Hall of Fame Board as well as The Spirit Golf Association board.
Further our restaurant is philanthropic helping non-profits such as Rebuilding Together Houston, Women of Wine Charities supporting the Houston Area Women’s Center, March of Dimes, Houston Rodeo, and Professionals & Culinary Arts supporting scholarships for culinary students, as well has helping neighborhood schools to name a few.
Tejas Office Products, one of the largest independently owned office product dealerships in Texas, is excited to announce that in the first quarter of 2018, they have acquired two independent office supply companies – Red Tag Business Products, LLC, a Houston based company and Office Edge, an Austin based company.
This is the third acquisition for the Houston based family run company since February 2016. With these acquisitions it allows further opportunities for all Tejas associates, while improving market competitiveness throughout the state for all of our customers. Tejas’ expansion now provides local representation in not only in Houston and the surrounding areas, but also Austin and Central Texas. Stephen M. Fraga, president of Tejas, said “We are extremely excited about both of these acquisitions. This allows us to continue to grow in Houston and expand our footprint into Central Texas with the acquisition of Office Edge.”
The Houston Zombie Walk is a Halloween themed 501 (c) charity with a primary mission of raising money for their selected scholarships and charity partners. By supporting college education, they seek to support education paths that may not always have the biggest support financially. All proceeds benefit their ‘Too Ghoul for School’ scholarship fund at www.tgfschool.org. A wide variety of scholarship categories include: Performing & Visual Arts, Veterinary Technician, First Responders, and a special Board of Directors Cut. Previously the charity had a successful history of raising and distributing financial assistance to organizations supporting children’s charities, domestic animal welfare and wildlife rehab.
The organizations model is for their followers to give back to the community while having the most fun! By bringing the idea of Halloween into the community through our events, they attract a wide variety of followers from all walks of life. According to Darren Tompkins, Board Chair and COO, “This is essentially the coolest way ever to support your community!” Another strength of the organization is how they spend volunteer time at other charitable events to help support local groups that may need volunteer help.
A series of unique fund-raising events take place during the year. In March they stage their “Carpocalypse” Car and Motorcycle Show. The Halfway to Halloween Bash at the House of Blues is held in June, followed in October by the 2018 Houston Halloween Festival. Christmas time finds them staging their Christmas with Krampus Wresting and Holiday Spectacular. Learn all about the organization at www.houstonzombiewalk.org. The Chamber salutes Houston Zombie Walk and their many volunteers for their valuable contributions in time and resources invested in our community.
Phil Stewart is our featured member for March and his varied and colorful background accomplishments could fill all 20 pages of this publication,, however, we have attempted to hit the highlights and there have been many! He made his debut on Christmas Day in Houston; yes he was a Christmas baby and a wonderful gift for his proud parents.
He was not destined to stay in Houston because in the following years he was in Tulsa, Boston, Little Rock, Shreveport and eventually came back to attend college at the University of Houston. His other higher education activities involved Louisiana State University, the University of Denver, and he did Post Baccalaureate studies and earned a degree from the University of Denver.
Opting for career variety, Phil started as a cameraman for Channel 26, worked as a rock and roll disc jockey and also built parts of his exemplary career in regional and national sales, in radio, at a magazine, in an advertising agency and in newspaper positions. Today he is Regional Account Director of McElvy Media and representative for 4 different area newspapers. A proud Chamber member, in fact, when he was hired, he was made the Chamber representative, a good move since he has consistently been active in 8 different Chambers across the country.
Certainly his credentials are impressive but there is much more. Phil is Past President of the Professional Tour Guide Association of Houston and a Certified Professional Tour guide. In 2016 he bought Discover Houston Tours. Railroading is in his blood because he has held numerous offices for model railroad organizations and is an accomplished train layout builder. In fact the layout he built for the “Houston Passenger Train Operations in 1949” was featured in national magazines, on local television and in newspapers.
We don’t know if all his travels are by train, but he has been to all 50 states and 38 foreign countries. There is even more travel in his family since Leslie, his wife is an international flight attendant for United. Rounding out the family are sons Daniel and Aaron. Catching our breath, we soundly applaud Phil for his diversified successes and achievements and appreciate his comment: “the Heights Chamber is the best!”
Memorial Hermann today launched Virtual Clinic, an innovative program designed to help patients access medical care from the comfort of their homes, offices, schools or wherever they may be.
“Health care is our business, but so is technology,” said David Bradshaw, executive vice president and chief marketing and strategy officer at Memorial Hermann. “In the past several years, we’ve seen a tectonic shift in patient care beyond the traditional setting thanks to the emergence of new technological capabilities. While our patients still expect high-quality and safe care, they now want it on their terms, and more often than not, at their fingertips. To meet the demand, we’ve developed a host of consumer-driven digital tools, including Virtual Clinic, to help patients manage their health care — both inside and outside our walls.”
Memorial Hermann first introduced video consultation for select post-surgical appointments and case management services in January 2017. Today, the program is expanding to adult primary care and urgent care visits via Virtual Clinic.
Virtual Clinic offers video consultations via computer, tablet or smart phone with a variety of Memorial Hermann affiliated physicians. Appointments can be made for adult primary care and urgent care services through Memorial Hermann Medical Group. Dr. David James, Chief Executive Officer for Memorial Hermann Medical Group, explains, “There’s a lot of urgent care type visits that can be taken care of just by doing good history and asking the right questions. From earaches and allergies, to colds and flu, to stomach aches and digestive issues and more, now the doctor’s diagnosis is only a click away.”
Pediatric post-surgical virtual visits also are available through Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
“Virtual Care is a game changer for our patients and their families,” said Dr. Matthew T. Harting, M.D., a UTHealth pediatric surgeon affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “Surgery can be a stressful and time-consuming event for families, consisting of pre- and post-surgical appointments, as well as the surgery itself. However, this new program alleviates some of the stress. With Virtual Clinic, families don’t have to worry about making the trek back to the hospital for routine post-surgical appointments. They can now attend the follow-up appointment and see their physician without ever having to leave the house.”
Virtual appointments are available daily. Additional physicians and services will be added in the coming months. Virtual Clinic does not treat emergency or life-threatening issues, chronic illness or provide medication refills.
Virtual Clinic is a program of Everyday Well. Everyday Well represents a new approach to managing health, offering a care delivery platform aimed at providing Houstonians enhanced access to Memorial Hermann’s network of primary care physicians along with a host of innovative online tools and services that deliver the utmost in convenience for patients to live well and stay well every day.
For more information on Virtual Clinic, visit www.memorialhermann.org/virtualclinic/ or call 832-658-MHVC (6482).
Gaye Jackson, owner of Gaye Jackson’s Flowers in the Heights, grew up in Spring Branch, graduated and set out for Texas A & M University where she majored in Psychology. Beginning her ultimate floral career, she first worked at a friend’s flower show and totally enjoyed the experience.
Following college, Gaye spent some time doing marketing and real estate. No doubt furthering her business experience, and soon-to-be, floral profession. However, feeling the urge to become her own boss, this dynamic lady “bit the bullet” and went into business on her own. Or as she says, “If it didn’t work, I would get a real job!” Wow, did it work, because her real job these days is satisfying customers and bringing joy into lives. At one time she had 3 stores.
Gaye excelled in the floral business being named “Very Best” Wedding Florist for 9 straight years, and in the “Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses in Houston”. Joining the Chamber, Gaye recognized it for its business-building capabilities and appreciated its commitment to enhancing the entire community.
Gaye spends her spare time involved in the River Oaks Business Women’s Exchange Club and traveling. With her son Jackson (born to a proud mother at age 50), they have been to China and are planning an extended stay in Kauai in July of this year. On November 11th, she celebrated her 40th year in the floral business, certainly a major milestone in her life. Always smiling, Gaye Jackson is a Chamber member representative of living life to the fullest, and a beautiful flower that continues to bloom!
This month we are spotlighting The Periwinkle Foundation, one of our newer Chamber members and a local pediatric cancer non-profit. Periwinkle is a Community of Healing through camps, arts and survivor programs, which are provided at no cost to children and families affected by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses who are cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Each year more than 14,000 children, teens and families are touched by Periwinkle programs, including Camp Periwinkle, Camp YOLO, Periwinkle Family Camp, Periwinkle Day Camp, Camp Days at Texas Children’s Hospital, the Long Term Survivor Program and the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program, which culminates each year in a traveling exhibition of art by children touched by cancer and blood disorders. Through camping, recreational and arts programming, and a collaborative community of over 20,000 supporters, The Periwinkle Foundation provides opportunities for these special children and their families to heal emotionally, lead fuller lives and become stronger survivors.