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Phillip's Automotive Services, owned by Felipe Herrera, has served the Corpus Christi, Texas community with quality automotive repair, diagnostics, and tune up services for over 15 years.
Herrera first learned about the automotive repair service while in the U.S. Marine Corps and taking classes in the automotive field. He started his first automotive repair business in Austin, Texas in 1994. While the business was successful, he decided to move to Corpus Christi, Texas and start Phillip’s Automotive.
Stamina, determination, commitment, as well as many long hours helped Herrera build the company to what it is today. From the very start Felipe spent 100 percent of his time operating and managing day-to-day operations, supporting his family while serving in the Army National Guard.
One of the biggest obstacles he faced was when he was called for active duty and deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in Kosovo. He had to leave his business behind. Herrera's absence unfortunately caused the business to suffer in both operational, as well as financial areas. When he returned from active duty, he sought assistance through SBA’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) that is available to help small businesses meet ordinary and necessary operating expenses when a key employee is deployed to active duty. Phillip’s Automotive Services was approved for a direct loan in the amount of $40,000 under the program and also approved for additional funding if needed.
Herrera gives much credit to the SBA for helping him get his business back on track. “I am grateful to the SBA for helping me keep my business going by making me a loan,” said Herrera. “If it wasn’t for the SBA, I would have had to shut my business down.”
One evening while watching television, Maurice Welton saw the founder of Edible Arrangements on “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch and became enticed by the company’s product and philosophy. Welton was even more impressed with the company when he found out veterans received a $10,000 discount off the franchise fee of $25,000.
The disabled veteran soon went to work and was able to purchase the franchise with a U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loan funded by CIT, a nationwide lender. Because Edible Arrangements is listed on FRANdata’s Registry of loans pre-reviewed by the SBA, the loan processing was quicker and easier.
In 2007, Welton proudly opened his first Edible Arrangements in McAllen, Texas. Today, he owns and operates four Edible Arrangements with a fifth location scheduled to open in 2014…all in South Texas. The successful veteran turned entrepreneur obtained two additional guaranteed loans funded by SBA’s Preferred Lenders. Welton has increased revenues annually to roughly $1.2 million collectively and provides employment for 16 people.
Welton began his food service career at 14 while working at a bakery washing pans. The night baker took an interest in him and mentored him, teaching him how to prep food and measure ingredients. He realized then, food service was his calling.
Welton joined the U.S. Army and attended the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University. He served the first four years in the military as a cook and the last two years as a food inspector assigned to the McAllen plant that made the military’s Meals Ready to Eat (MRE). After completing his enlistment, Welton stayed in the Valley; however, struggling to find a job he reluctantly departed for Louisiana looking for work. In 2005, Welton found his way back after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Welton's military experience and “can do” attitude proved invaluable. There is no such thing as "mission failure." It's simply not an option, he says. "So, you do whatever you have to do to succeed. That expectation of success taught me fortitude and discipline and it gave me a never-quit mentality."
October 2013 was a month of celebration for former Army cook Maurice Welton. He not only celebrated the opening of his fourth Edible Arrangement store in South Texas but, franchise founders Tariq and Kamran Farid recognized Welton for opening the franchise’s 1,100th store.
Edible Arrangements is known for its fresh fruit bouquets delivered for special occasions.
In 1991, after spending 10 years as an Advertising Manager for daily newspapers, magazines and multi-media conglomerates nationwide, Darlene K. Gregory started her own company in Corpus Christi, Texas. EMW Productions, LLC, dba East Meets West Productions and East Meets West Financial Management grew from consulting and hosting local community events such as Career Fair, Heroes For Hire, U.S. Navy Blue Angels Air Show, and many others for local organizations to becoming a ‘one stop’ shop for businesses needing marketing and design expertise across many platforms.
The company offers full service advertising, marketing, PR and business consulting services, specializing in international medical, industrial and institutional accounts. In addition, the company designs business plans, and places commercial loans for small business with investors, banks, REITs and hedge funds. The team of 9 full time employees and a dozen experts in a variety of fields on a contractual basis also designs and hosts web sites, internet marketing campaigns, custom databases, custom Android applications, and manages and hosts major conferences, symposiums and events for clients such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Navy, and The Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, among many others.
EMW Productions received a small SBAExpress loan in May 2012 to get a jump start on financing and has since grown and expanded services and in turn sales revenue. Ms. Gregory has also conducted many seminars for SBA‘s resource partner- Del Mar College Small Business Development Center to help educate local small business owners. Darlene Gregory received SBA’s Minority Small Business Champion of the Year award in 2007 and serves on the SBA’s Corpus Christi Branch Office’s Small Business Week nomination committee.
EMW Productions is the proud recipient of many ADDY awards and International Film Festival Award for Industrial Film for its client, FMC/Moorco. Additionally, Darlene has won Editor and Publisher Magazine’s award for Best Promotion and the International Association of Newspaper and Marketing Executives Award for Best Publication. The company also won several national and regional Public Relations Society of America awards for the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Save Our Streets campaign in 2010.
Three of EMW Productions clients have won SBA Small Business Week awards. These include Bradley’s Hermetics - Small Business Exporter of the Year and CC Disposal Service - Jeffrey E. Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year, both in 2010. Ms. Gregory also nominated Gainco, Inc – which was named the 2011 SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year for the Lower Rio Grande Valley District.
She is a frequent keynote speaker for organizations nationwide, most recently, Meeting Planners International and Choice Hotels Owner’s Group, on such topics as Increasing Attendance at Your Scientific Conference and Marketing to the Eagle Ford Shale.
Darlene is Chairman of the Uptown Neighborhood Initiative, and serves on the City of Corpus Christi’s Central Business District Planning Committee and the Brownfields Assessment Committee.