Author Archives: Eileen Mattei

Freelance writer Eileen Mattei was the editor of Valley Business Report for over 6 years. Her articles have appeared in Texas Highways, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Coop Power magazines as well as On Point: The Journal of Army History. The Harlingen resident is the author of five books: Valley Places, Valley Faces; At the Crossroads: Harlingen’s First 100 Years; and Leading the Way: McAllen’s First 100 Years, For the Good of My Patients: The History of Medicine in the Rio Grande Valley, and Quinta Mazatlán: A Visual Journey.

Clark Shapes Clay into a Business

Sculptor Doug Clark shapes clay on a work in progress at his studio. (VBR)

“I’m not a be-still or sit-still kind of guy,” said sculptor Doug Clark in his Edinburg studio. The number and variety of bronze sculptures he has created in his 35-year career are a testament to that. In McAllen alone, 65 of Clark’s pieces are on display, including Quinta Mazatlan’s extraordinary statues of native animals and his Veterans War Memorial of Texas’s statues and remarkable Korean War plaques. His Janis Joplin…

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Living Next to Nature: La Jarra Ranch

Charles Edward Wetegrove and his brother Raymond with Edward Burleson Raymond’s 1886 chimney that was part of the original house.

When Charles Edward Wetegrove and his brothers Joe and Raymond inherited the family’s 500-acre Las Majadas Ranch in Willacy County, they knew they wanted to keep the ranch, their heritage, intact. Their great-grandfather had come to the Wild Horse Desert in 1872, began rounding up wild horses and cattle and herding them north to markets. Eventually he established the 6,800-acre ranch where the homestead’s 1886 chimney ranks as the oldest…

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A Lifetime of Designing

Architect Calvin Walker of WPA stands in the Brownsville Library's Space 14s (Space for Teens), which he designed as an internet resource center. (VBR)

As a young architect, Calvin Walker left Louisiana to work in the Rio Grande Valley for a year.  Fifty years later, he is still designing buildings from his Brownsville office. In the interim, he worked for 30 years at various iterations of the large architectural firm SHW, rising to vice president and partner in charge of Brownsville. In 1997, he declined to relocate and started Walker Perez Associates with Carlos…

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Look Before You e-Leap


  E-commerce is growing 23 percent per year as 51 percent of Americans prefer to shop online. Yet 46 percent of small businesses do not have a website. “Is selling online right for your business?” asked Eduardo Lugo of the Small Business Development Center at a seminar on e-commerce. “You have to do your homework, just like you were opening a restaurant or retail location. It revolves around your target…

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Lubbock: West Texas Windfall

West Texas town has something for everyone No longer your grandfather’s West Texas town, Lubbock has become a destination well worth the trip. What’s great? Restaurants and wine bars so good you’ll consider relocating.  Fascinating, one-of-a-kind museums and, threaded throughout the city of 250,000, active prairie dog towns and friendly folks. The home of Texas Tech, Lubbock offers days of easy-going fun and great food.   Playing to its High…

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The Enlightened Exterminator 

Jose Guerrero and Gabriel Martinez prepare to treat a house for termites. (VBR)

Safeguard Pest Control provides solutions When Juan Martinez returned to the Valley after serving in the Marine Corps, he found a job with a pest control company. He enjoyed the work, moved up the ladder and eventually managed the business. In 1991, he started his own company, Safeguard Pest Control, with his assets of a pickup truck, experience, a strong work ethic and a Pest Control Structural license from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Now the largest independent pest control company in the Valley, Safeguard is run by his sons, Frank and Gabriel. “I started working here the day he opened the business,”…

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Dancing as Fast as She Can 

In 1995, during her senior year at Lamar University, Lori Rodgers often traveled between Beaumont and Harlingen as she prepared to open her business. The dance major, with advice from her father Rick Mathes, had found a home for Rio Grande Valley Arts Studio in Harlingen and was having the building renovated. She convinced him that she did not need a teaching degree as a backup.“Dance is what I know…

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How to Keep Your Best Employee

“Once you find somebody who shares your values and work ethic, you have to make a decision on how to keep them. If you just increase their salary, you still risk losing them at any point. Laurie Tresch was an employee we needed to keep,” said Allan Crockett, who with his wife Terrie and sons runs Hilco, Crockett Farms and Gulf Coast Contractors. “Laurie is the face of Hilco, the…

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Putting the Ahhh in Aloe Relief

Todd waller bringing natural aloe Relief to the Valley and beyond After more than 15 years in the Valley’s aloe vera industry, involved in everything from production methodology to R&D at various Valley companies, Todd Waller in 1999 decided to go out on his own. He formed Pangea Phytoceuticals, Inc. which today grows aloe vera barbadensis and manufactures aloe products under its Aloe Re-Leaf label. Initially Pangea researched under a NIH grant,…

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Up and coming: Adriana Cantu and the Cover Cap

Cover Cap protects against weather Adriana Cantu’s husband works on construction projects all around the United States.  When he complained about the cold, she stayed up nights working on a design to protect his head from the elements.  At the time she was a parent-educator with the  PSJA school district, teaching crafts and sewing, skills that enabled stay-at-home moms to work for others or themselves. Cantu came up with the…

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