About three months ago, Genora Young from the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) ran into me on the street during the community garage sale event put on by the Gonzales Main Street organization.
After a few friendly words about the weather and the garage sale, Genora asked me the following question: “What do you think about doing a series of articles promoting why Gonzales is a great place to do business? My idea is that we play off the Immortal 32 and call it 32 Reasons to Do Business in Gonzales.
“One week it could focus on industry or larger businesses and the next maybe have a retail focus. What are your thoughts?”
If you are regular reader of the Gonzales Inquirer, you know what I thought of Genora’s concept. I loved it so much that we started the 32 Reasons to Do Business in Gonzales series four weeks ago, beginning with an inaugural article about TXGN. We have followed up with stories on Frames and Things, the BYK expansion, and this week we have a great story on Baker Boys Barbecue, one of the Top 50 barbecue places in the state as named by Texas Monthly magazine.
I bring this up because I personally have learned a lot about the businesses themselves, but more importantly, the people behind those businesses. In interviewing Elgin Heinemeyer and Terry Towns at Frames and Things, I learned that he was a retired postal worker and that she was a former teacher. I also learned they were very passionate about providing quality services to their customers. Elgin is a fellow noon Lions Club member and I know his sincerity and veracity are second to none. How lucky are we to have such a wonderful retail business like that in our community?
When doing the story on BYK, I got to spend time with Jon Such and Glenn West, two phenomenal local businessmen who care a lot about the City of Gonzales and its citizens. On the day I did the BYK interview I was introduced to Isaac Beard, one of the general contractors involved in the expansion project. During the conversation with Isaac, he mentioned one of his subcontractors, E. F. Ehrig and Sons, had done a magnificent job on preparing the foundation work. In fact, he said he has never worked with a contractor as professional as E.F. Ehrig and Sons. I told him I had a friend who worked there, and he asked me the employee’s name. I told him my friend was named Kyle Day, and he immediately interjected, “Kyle was a mover on this project. He got things done and he demanded perfection. I was totally impressed. In all my years I have never worked with a more professional outfit.” That is totally awesome. If not for this series, I never would have known the E.F. Ehrig and Sons connection and the high praise for Kyle.
In the very first interview, I interviewed Steve Gresham of TXGN. Steve took me on a 90-minute tour of the railroad yard. He was totally enthusiastic about the partnerships and people he has worked with in Gonzales. He had high praise for Genora and the EDC, saying without their support, Gonzales’ short line railroad would not be here. In fact, said Gresham, he calls Genora every other week or so just to stay in touch with what is going on in Gonzales and the surrounding area. That’s high praise.
This thread continued when I interviewed Phil and Wayne Baker last week. They were sincere, clearly cared about their product and employees, and both absolutely love doing business here. One of the most incredible things that came out of the interview was the following comment from Wayne: “We have not had any turnover in over a year-and-a-half. All of our employees are loyal, hard-working and dedicated to this place.” Wow—that is phenomenal.
And just to underscore how awesome it is, let me tell you about Greg McClain, the owner of Kitchen Pride. I have known Greg and his wife Kris now for 8 months. Last week Greg and I found ourselves on the same shift as volunteers at East Elementary on behalf of the Lions Club to help out with school registration and diabetes testing. While chatting, I learned for the first time he was the owner of Kitchen Pride. I was totally impressed. In all the time I’ve known him he never played up his business acumen or ownership. He was just another citizen of the county who I happened to like a lot. When he told me he owned Kitchen Pride, I about choked on my own ignorance. However, it just shows how cool the business environment is here when one of the leading businesses in Gonzales County is owned by a person who cares so much about giving back to it without fanfare. Outstanding.
After four weeks, it is abundantly clear to me there are more than 32 reasons to do business in Gonzales County. Spread the word.