2011 Nuggets of Wisdom

Stay out of debt as much as you can in both your personal and business life while establishing your business.  Live in a shack if you have to.  Don't begin buying new cars when the first light shines.  Remember that you can increase your bottom line a lot more by cutting expenses than by increasing sales.  Be prepared to put in 12+ hours a day to establish your business.

Kelly Toney ‘92

Dwight Toney ‘70

Tranzon Auction Resolutions

"Pray.  Work Hard.  Don’t Worry.  Be Patient.”  Entering the world of defense contracting with no previous government contracting experience proved to be the hardest thing these two Aggie entrepreneurs ever tackled.  As a unified team, their goal was realized only by praying daily to God, working hard seven days a week, not worrying about the many speed bumps and being very, very patient.

Kyle Greenwood ‘92

Beverly Greenwood ‘98

BMI Defense Systems

Start by looking for opportunities in the field you currently work in.  Also, don't feel frustrated if you have to put in 5 years or more working for someone else because there is a lot to learn on how to apply what you have learned in school.

Brandon Spears ‘94

republic landscapes, llc

If you don’t always do what’s in the customer's best interests, someone else will.

Phil Miner ‘80

Miner Central Texas Ltd

Don't be afraid to go out on your own.

David C. Baggett, Jr. ‘81

John C. Vanderhider ‘81

Opportune, LLP

The people you surround yourself with are critical – they should be hard-working, passionate about the business you are in, and ideally, smarter than you.   Growth can consume massive amounts of cash, even when your income statement is showing a healthy profit. Constantly work to broaden your knowledge about your industry and business in general.

William Sims ‘89

Accent Wire, Ltd.

Fundamentals of an entrepreneur should always include the belief in yourself and the willingness to take risk when the market opportunity arises.  Always associate yourself with business partners of great character and integrity.

Mark Miller ‘84

Power Funding Ltd.

Business is business. When I started a TV production company I had no mentor in the field to go to so I went to the only successful business owner I knew, a kind man who owned an architecture firm. He gave me great startup advice and then second and third tier knowledge for the next phases of the growth of the business. Find a mentor!!

Brent Montgomery ‘97

Leftfield Pictures

Product Design: Encourage creativity - be the first to obsolete your product. Management: Hire the best and lead, don’t micro manage. If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still back there.  Finance: Pay your bankers first, your employees next and yourself last.  Life: Look for balance, and remember the reason you are working so hard.

Richard Martin ‘71

OriGen Biomedical, Inc.

1. Be memorable. 2. You will never have enough money to start your own company; it will never be the perfect time. So start anyway! 3. Everyone will think you can't make it.  Don't be one of them. 4. Don't take no for an answer; be persistent.

Richard Garza ‘87

Garza Program Management LLC

The ring on your finger will open doors. Remember the honor and responsibility that fact brings.

Philip A. Wales, Jr. ‘75


You are never going to grow if you don’t take a chance.

Phil Miner ‘80

Miner North Texas Ltd

Find something that you are passionate about and do whatever it takes to turn that passion into a career. We as Aggies know what it is to have passion in our school, have that sense of passion carry over into your professional endeavors.

Ignacio Cubero ‘06

The Ticket Experience

To borrow a slogan, JUST DO IT! Recipe = take a step, learn, look for new opportunities & repeat. Have faith in your God-given talents, values and purpose which will give you confidence to take risks leading you to your vision.  Hold firmly to your integrity regardless of the cost and create mutually-beneficial opportunities for others with complimentary skills and knowledge. Oh, and Gig'em!

Mike Watts ‘98

Better Heads LLC

I am a big proponent of team work. At Improving we strive to create a fun business culture where people not only work for the company, but they work for their friends at the company. Surround yourself with great people, and share in the rewards of your collective success!

Curtis A. Hite ‘91

Improving Enterprises, Inc.

Follow what we learned at A&M, to not lie cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do. Also follow the best wisdom ever given, to treat others as you would like to be treated.

James M. Benham ‘01

JB Knowledge Technologies, Inc

Growing a business or any venture is tough. Advice I would share with other Aggies would be to never stop learning, to always appreciate every person you meet as you never know how they may impact your life and to never be scared to take a risk. It is those risks that often push you the next level and those risks, successful or not, that teach you the most.

Jackie Lackey ‘06

Encore Visions

We believe that our positive, strong, and consistent culture allows us to recruit, retain, and grow the best people in the industry, which is critical to our on-going growth and strength. We actively work to grow and maintain that culture so that every person in the company, not just the founder/leaders, serves as a beacon and reflection of it.  This allows us to maintain the qualities that differentiated us as a small company – even as we become a larger company.

Bret Farrar ‘88

Sendero Business Services

Do not allow other people to influence you with their own negativity. If you believe in yourself enough to do something great, then do it. You do not need anyone's approval to make that something a reality.

Trey Jones ‘03

Lone Star Land Design

Surround yourself with good people and then give them the tools they need to be successful.

Jeff McDougall ‘97

Jeff Durrant ‘97

PivotPoint Solutions

In tough economies as we are seeing right now, your company will survive and prosper if you look for opportunities and make tough cost cutting choices, which is what most entrepreneurs struggle with.  Provide your clients with services or products others are not interested in.  Above all, do everything you do with integrity.

Paul Gugenheim ‘73

Delta Structural Technology

Someone else said it best: “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.  You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird (1960); by Harper Lee (1926- ).  It was just my good fortune to be born an Aggie!

Carl Dore, Jr. ‘77

Dore & Associates, Attorneys, P.C.

Choose well when you choose a business partner; take the time to get to know them well. You will need to trust them as well as depend on them.  It's better to pass up a great business opportunity than to go into business with someone who you can't fully trust.

Todd Smith ‘94

Scott Holder ‘99

Texas Quail Farms LP

You can buy office supplies anywhere but people like buying from people they trust.  At Tejas, we believe that personal relationships still matter and as long as we can be a trusted advisor to our clients we can compete with anyone.

Stephen M. Fraga ‘97

Lupe Fraga ‘57

Tejas Office Products, Inc.

Pursue your dreams.  Don't ever let a person tell you your company will not succeed.  My company is proof it can be done anywhere; Papescapes, LLC was founded and continues to thrive in a town of 300 people.  Follow your heart, and let your passion become your work.

Ryan Pape ‘02

Papescapes, LLC

Maintain the courage to stand alone and the vision to know your place.

Casey Sledge ‘93

Sledge Engineering, LLC

Entrepreneurship is the greatest equalizer.  It levels the playing field.  No resume, GPA, or job title gives you a leg up.  Success comes when you commit your life to 1) a governing compass bigger than yourself, b) recognizing that each action has a ripple effect (good or bad), and c) laying your life down for someone else's gain.

Doss Cunningham ‘04

Nathan Kleiman ‘04

Jeffrey Weisser ‘07

Woodbolt International

Stay true to yourself and your values as you navigate the obstacles in life.  Work ethic and determination will help you realize Success!

Richard Harbin ‘92

Empowered Solutions, Inc.

Success comes from hard work and dedication.  This Aggie tradition is taught everyday, you just have to practice.

Jon Wiesmann ‘00

Comflow Mechanical Services

If you venture into the world of business ownership, you have to remember to be the first one there, the last one to leave and the last one to get paid. No one cares or puts more heart into your business as you do.

Aaron Horn ‘98

Shasta Horn ‘02

Aamco Transmissions & Total Car Care

Consistently move forward, never forget where you started.

Monique Threadgill ‘90

MOSAK Advertising & Insights

Hire character and train skill.

Taseer Badar ‘95

True View Realty Partners Two, L.P.

Your most important role as an Aggie entrepreneur is to stand tall, cast a strong vision, and become the honest, trustworthy bedrock that your employees can use as a launching pad to soar to new heights.

David Walker ‘97

Caroline Fife ‘82

Intellicure, Inc.

Listening to your customers and building a good company culture are the keys to success.

Brandon Zumwalt ‘99

Internet Contrasts Company

Never accept that there is not a better way.  With the speed at which information and technology move in today's world, if something is being done "the same way it always has been", then there is probably a great opportunity to improve it.  Often, it is not the idea for improvement that leads to a strong business, but the drive to change people's way of thinking to accept that improvement.

Denis Raab ‘72

Classique Wines & Spirits

The best software product in the world cannot go far without a great sales and marketing team.  The best sales and marketing team cannot go far without a great product.  If you cannot start with both, start with one… but the second better not be far off.

Philip Poll ‘88

Ngok Lai ‘72

Jun Zou ‘97

Houston Offshore Engineering

Watch your cash.  Running out of cash is the number one reason start-ups fail.  When your cash position is strong, you will sleep well at night.

Matt Michel ‘83

Service Nation Inc.

Realize that you'll reach a point when your company's success is despite your efforts and not because of them.  Eventually, you must modestly step aside from your daily role, empower your team and make the business about them - its not about you anymore.  Success is first through company culture,  product and service is a distant second and third.

Gary Peterson ‘95

gap intelligence

The only good deal is the one that comes along when you have money in your pocket. Be prepared, plan ahead, and if you miss out on one good deal, there is always another one coming around the bend.  Be ready for it.

Wade Sales ‘90

Mike Halford ‘91

SHS Management, LP

Always conduct yourself with integrity, respect, focus and passion!

Juan Manuel Lamparero ‘87

Industrial Solutions de Mexico

Say what you'll do, and do what you say.  A successful business is built on a foundation of honesty and integrity.  A great reputation supported by this foundation may take years to build but can be lost in one day.

Michael Martin ‘87

Rio Queen, Inc.

Never Give Up!  From initially not being accepted into A&M  (graduated magna cum laude)  to starting a business with few clients in a bad market (now making the Aggie 100) perseverance has been of most importance!  Nothing is ever going to come easy.  Hard work and dedication to your job are key, but  even more important  is devotion to your family.  Also I would be nothing without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!

Mitchell B Todd ‘84


Never give up.  Be a strategic thinker by asking yourself constantly 'how can you make your business the best?'  Be ready to compete against others & yourself.  Praise God daily...it helps you stay strong mentally when you count your blessings & give Him the glory.

Frank Aswad ‘98

Aswad Wealth Advisors

Help others.  Never settle for what you are currently doing.  Always expand your ideas.  Good ideas expand, others don't.  Integrity in your business will reward you even during the tough times.

Scott Moscrip ‘93

D&S Factors

Hire future leaders that are smarter than you. Cast for them a clear vision of what the future could be and should be. Develop in them the moral courage to always do what is right, no matter what, even when it’s hard. Empower them to exercise initiative and to develop plans to shape your vision. Finally, give them the authority to execute those plans and make your vision a reality.

Michael Boone ‘84

Launch Agency

Life is for Laughing, Loving, and Living!  Enjoy EVERY DAY, and Make EVERY DAY count!

Garrett Ashmore ‘03

Voice Runner, Inc.

A lot of people have ideas, but few have the courage and belief in themselves to do something about them. If you aren't willing to invest in yourself, don't expect anyone else to do so.

Joanne Vest ‘93

Schedule 2 Drive, LP

Perfection is a direction, not a destination.

Russ Peterson Jr. ‘91

iSpeak, Inc.

If you wait for the perfect time to begin something new you will be waiting your entire life. There is no "perfect time" to change the direction of your life. Instead of waiting - commit, persevere, and enjoy the experience.

Kyle D. Barrington ‘87

Zajonc Corp

Chasing your goals and achieving financial success doesn't mean a whole lot if you don't maintain balance in your life. Deals and opportunities will come and go all the time, but raising a family and being there for your wife and kids only happens once.

David Coolidge ‘87

Velite Capital Managment, L.P.

Words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.

Taseer Badar ‘95

Oprex Surgery Beaumont, L.P.

Integrity, loyalty, trust; attributes all Aggies aspire to exemplify; over time, are critical to success of any business plan.

Robert G. Gootee ‘73

The ODS Companies

Establish your company with a clear vision, mission and values as this has proven invaluable in our experience. People will commit to something greater than themselves if it is clear, and they believe in it. Ultimately, people drive your success.

Rachel Hayden ‘89

Hayden Consultants, Inc.

Always remember your customers will not care how much you know until they know how much you care; so have fun, love what you do, and help others along the way.  Enjoy the journey, keep your head held high, and always maintain a positive perception of your company. Also remember to do the right thing at all costs; it will pay off in the long run, even if it’s more expensive in the short term.

Ryan Kobermann ‘04

Beth Kobermann ‘04

ESN Health

Texas A&M taught us to be honorable in all of our endeavors and to provide selfless service to our communities.  To further that charge, I encourage all Aggies to combine those core principles with doing business in a positive, friendly manner every chance they get!

George E. "Jed" Walker, Jr. ‘83

Walker Partners, LLC

The key to becoming your best is to remain professionally persistent, and not to simply rely on intelligence.

Mitt Salvaggio ‘82

Salvaggio, Teal & Associates

One of my former supervisors once called me a 'scanner', meaning that I was always searching for new information, collaborative partnerships, and innovative ways to effect change. I consider that to be one of the best compliments I have ever received (once he clarified what he meant)! Serve others as you would want to be served, regardless of the setting, and be good stewards of all that you have.

Vicki Niedermayer ‘80

Helping Restore Ability

As a physician, my patients have taught me that morality, humility, empathy, and diligence are the essential components of success in any profession... Having a good sense of humor also helps.

Graham Weston ‘86

Rackspace Hosting

Let your customers drag you kicking and screaming into a new market or new product. This way, you always know there is a strong demand for the product. The worst thing you can do is develop a really great product that no one wants or needs!

Doyle Taylor ‘82

Karen Taylor ‘84

Monico Monitoring, Inc.

In business, grow or die.

Donald G. Valentine ‘69

John Moore Services, Inc.

Stretch your limits, demonstrate your strengths, fulfill your potential.

Taseer Badar ‘95

Oprex Surgery Houston, L.P.

"Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them." -- Albert Einstein.  Help make other people's lives better and yours will improve as well.

Richard Payton ‘84

The Payton Company

Be honest not only with yourself, but with your client.  While the truth isn't necessarily what everyone always wants to hear, it's always the easiest to defend. I also believe in sharing, giving and providing for others. Greed will destroy every good man; avoid it at all times and do so by taking care of others.

Brian Berry ‘99

Brian Nash ‘00

Med-Tech Construction, Inc.

Seek out a mentor and then become a mentor to someone.

Seth Solomon ‘08

Bill Swann ‘70

Swann Animal Clinic

Profit is necessary for survival but it is not the primary barometer of success. Ethics, integrity and the Aggie Spirit give a soul to a company.

Rachel Cutrer ‘01

Ranch House Designs, Inc.

Over Plan, and over budget for the start up.  Set your sights on a core value that is the basis of your perceived competitive advantage and fight vigorously to maintain it at all levels.

Dan Leyendecker ‘90

Derek Naiser ‘89

Robert Viera ‘92

LNV, Inc.

Follow what your heart tells you to do.  Give all that you do your best effort.

R. Hollis Klett ‘58

XF Enterprises, Inc.

Truth, honesty and integrity will make up for most of what you don't know. Be accountable in your actions and people will trust your work. Dream big!

Shannon Sowder Calhoun ‘80

Southeast Texas Health System

Your vision, your employees, and your customers are what make success. Do something you are passionate about and in everything you do maintain your integrity. Consider your employees one of your most important assets. A happy employee results in a happy customer. Take care of your customers. Don’t simply give the customer what they want. Understand your customers’ needs, be able to explain the difference, and provide recommendations on how to accomplish them. Finally, enjoy your successes and share those successes with those that helped make it happen.

Kimberly Smart Willmott ‘86

Pentecom, LLC

Pursue your passion.

Sidney Bouse ‘81

Joann Bouse ‘80

Coastal Surveying of Texas, Inc.

Take care of your employees, as they are hard to find.

Alvin Adamcik ‘60

MI Cable Company

Live by the Golden Rule and always ask yourself: "How would I want them to treat me?" It is a small world in business relationships and the things you do come back to you sooner than you might expect.

Larry Teverbaugh ‘76

K2Share, LLC

You have much less to lose at 22 than any other time in life.  Take advantage of that fact, think outside the box, and take your career into your own hands.  It won't always be glamorous, but it will always be rewarding.

Hal Denbar ‘05

Patriot Pool and Spa

Give first and receive later.

Bernie B. Bernard ‘78

James M. Brooks ‘75

B&B Laboratories, Inc.

Don't let 'conventional wisdom' limit your options. Many success stories are the result of people doing what they're not supposed to be able to do.

Ed Muniz ‘67

MEI Technologies, Inc.

Persistence pays.  It is only by persevering that the joy of accomplishment is realized.  I am reminded of my experience in the Corps.  Freshman year was tough to say the least, but without that experience, I couldn't have really enjoyed being a junior and senior.  The same is true in business, building the team has been tough, working with the team is pure joy.

Norm Godwin ‘91

Godwin & Associates, PC

Narrow the focus on your products and services as much as possible. My business began to grow as I concentrated on specific service offerings, obtained certifications in my field, honed my skills in those particular areas and worked on branding myself as the "go to" person in working with business owners who needed assistance in my areas of expertise. As I narrowed my focus, my business grew.

Mike Skowronek ‘04

Strata Business Consultants

In the world of managing money, reputation is everything.

John Kauth ‘77

Intercontinental Consultants, LLC

To be successful, look no further than the Aggie code of honor.  Don’t lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.  Keep this in mind and always do what is right by the customer.

Mark Barron ‘89

Petroleum Solutions, Inc.

Give thanks for where you are now and keep fighting for where you want to be tomorrow.

Taseer Badar ‘95

True View Imaging One, L.P.