S Baker - Waco Chamber

Author Archives: S Baker

Article written by Amanda Haygood, Greater Waco Chamber staff, published in the third quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


Waco is changing. Waco is developing. Waco is growing. Being in the spotlight with the increase of new businesses, housing and jobs and with the continual growth of tourism, it should come as no surprise that sporting events are on the rise deep in the heart of Texas. There is all a lot going for us, Waco! Being centrally located along I-35 and located within a three-hour drive of 80 percent of the population of Texas, Waco is very attractive to many outside communities. In addition, the downtown river set up, lake, parks and beautiful terrain certainly woo both visitors and locals alike.



Jason Elliott with the Waco Convention Center says, “Waco is now considered an in-demand destination, that we expect more sports events will be held here each year. With Waco’s central location, great hotels and restaurants, and the fun things to do before and after competitions make us very attractive as a host city.” Elliott is one of the city liaisons responsible for hosting local and out-of-town organizations with special events. He and other Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) staff strategically showcase all Waco has to offer to out-of-town groups and invite them here to view our parks, facilities and the hotel/restaurant scene. CVB staff attends education conferences and event trade shows to attract targeted groups. However, Elliott says, “Our clients – they’re our best salespeople. Waco wins business because we pride ourselves on providing great customer service by being consistent, reliable, and dependable. Meeting planners talk when they are at various events. Many groups hear about us through word-of-mouth and contact us for space and date availability.”



The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) hosted 28 events in Waco just this past academic year, including 19 state championships, eight regional and all-state selection meetings and one convention between August 2017 and May 2018. These 28 events alone brought over 45,000 people to Waco, accumulating 9,000 hotel room nights and $183,000+ in facility rentals – and that’s not even considering the number of restaurants and shopping centers that gained revenue!


NCEA - horse

TAPPS is not the only organization that brings events to Waco – University Interscholastic League (UIL), the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, National Collegiate Equestrian Association, Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association, and the Professional Disc Golf Association collectively bring over 12,000 guests staying more than 4,800 hotel room nights in Waco. The Southwest Little League Regional Championships are headquartered in Waco, with championship tournaments spanning a total of 12 days attracting 4,000 guests to Waco.


Additionally, the City of Waco Parks and Recreation department hosts numerous concerts, like the popular Brazos Nights concert series, baseball and softball tournaments, 5K fun runs and the Southern Dragboat Association Drag Boat Races for both locals and visitors to enjoy. The Texas Food Truck Showdown, TriWaco and the Starburst Junior Golf Classic, hosted by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, are also big-ticket events held in Waco. These events are attended by both locals and out-of-towners, bringing a surge of commerce to the area.


The Greater Waco Sports Commission has done an outstanding job attracting sporting events to the greater Waco area. The Sports Commission is an independent non-profit organization that was created to identify and attract new sports events while enhancing and retaining existing events to generate positive economic impact and enhance quality of life in McLennan County. The vision is that the greater Waco area will realize its incredible potential – due to its community spirit, location, climate, rivers and lake, beautiful parks and premiere facilities – as the preferred venue for sports in Texas. Will Phipps, executive director, has the led the impressive charge in securing the IRONMAN 70.3 Waco coming up in October 2018. This event is HUGE, slated to bring 2,800 athletes plus their families to the area for an entire weekend with representation from 47 states and 20 different countries. The event will have an estimated $4 million economic impact on the area.



Bryan Bunselmeyer, executive director of TAPPS, says his experience in Waco has been a great one. When asked why he brings his tournaments and events to Waco, Mr. Bunselmeyer stated, “The accessibility from across the state is easy, hotels and lodging meet our needs and the food is plentiful and spread across all levels of price and service.” Bunselmeyer mentioned he would like to host their sand volleyball, preseason volleyball and basketball tournaments, as well as wrestling events to Waco.


Currently, the community has limited facility space to host large capacity events like these. However, the new developments lined up for the Extraco Events Center grounds will bring a new state-of-the-art facility that would allow multiple volleyball or basketball games to be played simultaneously. The Waco community cannot wait to be able to offer new, bigger opportunities to attract more new groups to town.


People are coming here, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, shopping and visiting local attractions, and falling in love with Waco every day. Whether put on by local organizations or out-of-town groups, sport and special events have an incredible impact on the community and the economy, and Waco is truly reaping the benefits of such a robust events schedule.


For more information about events happening in Waco, visit WacoHeartofTexas.com/Events.




Front cover web

Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about the booming tourist business in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!










Categories: News

Article written by Mary Drennon, published in the third quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


After the popular show Fixer Upper ended in April, people were holding their collective breath. Would Waco continue its remarkable growth? Talk to nearly any anyone who lives and works in the area and the answer you’ll hear is a resounding “Yes!”


“Go and talk to some of the visitors,” said Carla Pendergraft, director of marketing for the city of Waco’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re now on their bucket list. All indications are that [the growth] is going to continue.”



Pendergraft says Waco was named the “#2 U.S. Destination on the Rise for 2018” by TripAdvisor, the top travel site in the world — and the numbers from the area back it up. Statistics show that 2.6 million visitors came to Waco in 2017, quadrupled from only three years earlier. Direct travel spending in 2017 was up 8 percent, direct earnings of those employed in the travel industry up 3.8 percent, and local tax receipts were up 15.9 percent. There have been some 5,700 jobs added to the economy, and approximately 800 hotel rooms are now under construction in Waco, Pendergraft said.


What may have seen like an overnight sensation, however, was years in the making, according to Melett Harrison, director of housing and economic development. “We’ve worked for several years for this moment to arise,” Harrison said. “The momentum is still very strong.”


While the city may have had to scramble to keep up with growth after Magnolia Market at the Silos opened in 2015, the planning for such a moment started some 40 years ago with the development of a special incentive fund that has helped to pay for future development.


The city was able to bury electric lines and repair roads in the Silo district. Austin Avenue was renovated with street modifications over a weekend to accommodate the new Waco trolley system that transports people in and around downtown Waco at no charge. “I think we were able to adapt really quickly with minor accommodations until we could work up something better,” Harrison said.


It’s that attitude of helpfulness, combined with working in partnership with local businesses, that has laid the groundwork for sustained growth.



Take The Findery, for example. A relatively new business that opened downtown two weeks after Magnolia Market opened, The Findery (thefindery.com) is family-owned and operated by three couples: Tiffany and Matt D. Fatheree, Matt P. and Melissa Fatheree and Marci and Kyle Davis.


Offering one-of-a-kind gift items, furniture and home decor, including custom paint services, custom furniture, clothing, accessories and much more, The Findery has experienced incredible growth since its opening.


“When we started, we had only one main floor open,” said General Manager Alison Sorley. Within six months, they opened another and then purchased the building behind its store, which was followed by the launch of an online shopping site. Since then, they’ve nearly doubled in staff size.


“The city of Waco has been wonderful with the addition of the trolleys, the constant promotion of downtown Waco merchants and the additional sidewalks, making it easier for tourists to shop and get around,” Sorley said.


Part of the formula for success is filling the needs created by rapid growth. The Findery, for example, certainly complements Magnolia Market well, as does another business new to the scene — Waco Tours, (https://www.waco-tours.com).



Opened in June 2016, Waco Tours started with a single van to fill a need: Show people the hidden gems of Waco. It was so successful that owners David and Rachel Ridley and Luke and Rachel Whyte now have over 60 guides and drivers and 10 full-time staff. The company added a second van in 2017, and a third and fourth van shortly thereafter to accommodate the demand. In early 2017, they were giving five to eight tours a week. By the end of 2017, they were giving seven to eight tours a day. They now have a total of seven vans.


“There haven’t been a lot of challenges working with the city. They’ve been very supportive,” said Luke Whyte. “We felt very supported by the Greater Waco Chamber, as well as all the different entities involved, like the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Waco. We are excited to continue to collaborate and help expand people’s footprint of Waco.”


In addition to city support, Whyte said they work with local business entities to help showcase all that Waco has to offer. During a tour, each guest receives a touring book complete with dozens of coupons to local restaurants, shopping, events and more. With a food tour, an express tour and customized tours, visitors to the area can take insights they might miss otherwise. It’s been influential in bringing people back again and again.


“There are well over 15 or 20 families that have moved to Waco because they did the tour and saw an opportunity to either do business here or move their family here – a place to start their own business,” Whyte said. And it’s not just for tourists. Locals, too, are encouraged to take the tour; locals who have taken it say it’s changed their perspective of Waco.


One of the biggest companies changing perspectives is, of course, Magnolia.



Magnolia (magnolia.com), was founded by Chip and Joanna Gaines in 2003. What began as the “Little Shop on Bosque” has evolved into a national home and lifestyle brand that included Magnolia Market, Silos Baking Co., Magnolia Table, Magnolia Realty, Magnolia Design + Construction and a lifestyle magazine, The Magnolia Journal, to name a few. Magnolia now employs more than 750 team members in total.


They, like other business entities, believe that the combination of city support and working with local businesses is part of the formula for success.


“Jo and I are really proud of the work our friends and fellow business owners are doing to make Waco such a special place,” said Chip Gaines. “This has been our home for almost 25 years, and over the past 10 years or so, we’ve seen the downtown area really explode with boutiques, restaurants, and other shops. We’re just honored to be a part of what’s happening here in Waco.”


Magnolia also took note of the city relationship, as well. “The fact that so many stakeholders from across the city – whether it’s members of the police department, the Chamber, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Parks and Recreation or City Center Waco, to name a few – are always willing to work with our team to lend their thoughts and expertise is truly remarkable,” said John Marsicano, who works in public relations for Magnolia. “That level of tactical involvement from the city is invaluable, and it’s because of that support that we’re able to continually identify any and all opportunities to grow and improve various events and initiatives moving forward. We’re so grateful for that.”



Unquestionably, there is plenty of room for more growth, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, according to Pendergraft.


“We’ve seen people return again and again. We have no reason to suspect that that won’t continue. We watch the numbers, and the numbers are saying that it’s continuing to thrive.”


“Chip and Joanna’s brand has gone international,” added Pendergraft. “Tourists come to see the town that was so lovingly and consistently featured on Fixer Upper. Their brand has evolved far beyond the show. There is so much to recommend in Waco. We’re in that little sweet spot, not too small and not too large, with great quality of life and a brand image that is warm, hospitable, and centered on family values; and those businesses that believe in us should come here and give it a try.”





Front cover web

Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about the booming tourist business in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!







Categories: News

Article written by Samantha Baker, Greater Waco Chamber staff, published in the third quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


We sat down with Brian Brown, co-owner of The Backyard Bar, Stage and Grill and The Backyard Saloon to talk about how he and his business partners found success filling a unique niche in Waco.


What comes to mind when you hear the word “backyard?” Family fun? Casual? Familiar?


That’s the kind of atmosphere that Brian Brown, Chris Cox, Russel Clay and Chris Braziel decided to create when they decided to open The Backyard Bar, Stage and Grill in 2015.


Born in California, but raised in McGregor, owner Brian Brown has always loved music. He’s been active in the music scene for most of his life — locals may know him as the lead singer of The Sloppy Joe Band. He and co-owner Chris Braziel have been friends for years, and through playing music, he met Russ Clay and Chris Cox, owners of Red C Television. According to Brown, the four of them hit it off quickly, and soon decided to go into business together.


“Russ said ‘Hey man, let’s do something!’” said Brown. “I said, ‘Like what?’ and Chris said, ‘I don’t know!’ And that’s how we went into business.”



Their first business venture was Cinema Lounge, a bar that was meant to become a music venue. According to Brown, the timing and the location were both factors in the eventual closing of Cinema.


“We gave Waco what they said they wanted, as opposed to what they REALLY wanted,” said Brown. Cinema Lounge was open for three years before they decided it was time to shut it down. But, as it goes, when one door shuts, another one opens — they heard about an available property on South Eighth Street that just happened to be available for lease.


There was a lot of conversation about opening another bar after their first attempt hadn’t gone quite the way they’d hoped it would. “We were all thinking, ‘We’ve got a bar right now that we don’t want; why would we want to open another?’” said Brown. “I’ve always loved that property [now Backyard], it’s a neat little oasis in the middle of that area. Chip and Joanna were still running their store on Bosque; we had no idea about the Silos when we decided to pursue leasing the property.”


The same week that Brown and his crew began leasing the space, Chip and Joanna Gaines announced on their show “Fixer Upper” that they had purchased the Silos and had plans to move and expand their business there.


“My wife and I were at home that weekend watching ‘Fixer Upper,’ and Chip told Joanna that they’d gotten the silos,” said Brown. “‘Well, that could be good for us,’ we said. We opened a month before they had their big blowout opening.”



The Backyard officially opened in 2015 the same week as the HOT Fair and Rodeo, hoping to avoid large crowds and give their staff a more “soft” opening – instead, the new bar and grill was slammed.


When Magnolia opened just a few weeks later, the owners of The Backyard assumed that the tourists flocking to Magnolia would quickly flock to their bar. Looking back, Brown understands that when Magnolia first opened, Waco was still a “stop-off” destination, not the true tourist destination that it has since become. After Magnolia had been open for several months and quickly became a true “destination,” more and more tourists began noticing and visiting The Backyard.


Due to their proximity to Magnolia, The Backyard soon began catching the eye of travel writers for magazines and websites, picking up recognition as a great place to stop by when you go to visit Magnolia. Since then, the popularity of The Backyard has only increased, not just with tourists, but with locals as well.


The Backyard isn’t a totally unique idea — the Moontower Saloon in Austin is an outdoor live music venue with a full service bar and restaurant; the Texas Truck Yard in Dallas is a “come-as-you-are beer garden and adult playground.” However, the concept behind The Backyard is incredibly unique to Waco. Where else in town can you have food and drinks, enjoy live music, AND bring your kids and dogs?


“[The property] was in pretty rough shape when we got it,” said Brown. “It was just a little Mexican restaurant, completely closed in, no windows. We cut out the arches, put the roll up doors in, put the glass in, and built the stage. The firepits and the fountain were already there, and we saw those as the “bones” of the place. Next, we poured the dance floor and put in artificial turf, which totally changed the vibe of the place, it brought life and color to it. Then when we opened, kids started showing up, dogs started showing up, and it was totally by accident.”


The Backyard encourages patrons to feel comfortable bringing their whole families with them to enjoy the atmosphere. “That first Sunday that I sat there as a dad and a grandpa, and watched kids playing with their dogs and run around, it was just a great feeling,” said Brown.


The Backyard hosts many Texas country artists like Kevin Fowler, Randy Rogers, Aaron Watson and Wade Bowen. Why so much Texas country? “Texas artists are more local – they’re more affordable to bring in, and they have strong, dedicated fans,” said Brown. “We can sell out a Wade Bowen show (about 1,000 people) on a Wednesday night; there’s not the same kind of demand for rock artists.”



While the Texas country artists continue to sell out shows at The Backyard, Brown intends to continue finding ways to incorporate new and different kinds of shows, including his favorite genre, rock ‘n roll. “The Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band was a big hit for us,” he said. “Our Eagles tribute show was a big hit too, we sold nearly 850 tickets and it was just local musicians covering Eagles songs.”


Brown, Cox, Clay and Braziel have recently ventured out in hopes of filling another unique niche in Waco and opened The Backyard Saloon at the corner of Fifth Street and Austin Avenue, in the years-vacant Fifth Street Ice House. The saloon is an authentic old-time beer joint, from the Texas memorabilia to the sawdust-covered floors.


“Chris [Cox] had been watching the property for a while, and he came to us and said he had an idea,” Brown said. “He said that a lot of people that come in are from Michigan, from New York, from all over the place, and they ask where they can find a good watering hole, beer joint, saloon-type place? You’ve got coffee spots, you’ve got wine bars, you’ve got all kinds of places, but there was nothing really in that vein. And so, this property came available, and we talked the landlord into letting us open another bar here.” The Backyard Saloon is open seven days a week, Sunday through Wednesday from 3 p.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/BackyardSaloon.


Cold drinks, great food, live music, family-friendly atmosphere – The Backyard has it all. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days week, featuring daily food and drink specials. Follow them on Facebook (Facebook.com/BackyardWaco) to stay up to date with upcoming concerts and entertainment, and check out their full calendar and menu online at BackyardWaco.com.




Front cover web

Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about the booming tourist business in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!



Categories: News

Small Business Spotlight with Summer Shine, Owner of Luna Juice Bar, published in the third quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


Small businesses are the engine of our economy in the Greater Waco community — more than 70 percent of our membership is considered “small business.” We love introducing small businesses and their owners in our “Small Business Spotlight.” This allows us to showcase some of our local small business owners and hear from them what it’s like owning a small business in Waco and how the Chamber has helped their business.



In this quarter’s Small Business Spotlight, we’re highlighting Summer Shine, owner of Luna Juice Bar on Austin Avenue and the Luna Juice Bar truck located at Magnolia Market at the Silos.


Luna Juice Bar, opened in 2014, was founded on the belief that all people were made to live fully in the dream of who they were made to be. Summer Shine and her staff have set their eyes on reaching out to the community in such a way that it is reflected in who they hire, how they give and the organizations they partner with, including local ministry Jesus Said Love and Perpetual Help Home in Victoria, Texas. When you purchase from Luna Juice Bar, you are doing more than just drinking healthy juice – you’re supporting local farmers and giving people a second chance.


Why did you start your business, and why it is close to your heart?

I started Luna Juice Bar because I love living life to the fullest. I can’t change the amount of time I have on this planet, but I can change the quality of the time I do have left. The better I eat, the better I feel. Luna is so dear to me because it has given me an outlet to inspire change in women in this community who are in recovery from addiction. We hire people with pasts and that keeps me swimming every day!


What led you to start your own business here in Waco? 

I love Waco! I moved here 10 years ago from Austin and wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it, but over time I have absolutely fallen in love with this place!



You recently joined the Greater Waco Chamber — why did you decide to join?

Actually, I talked to a former employee of the Chamber about things I could do to increase the visibility of Luna Juice in the community, and he suggested I join.


How has your Chamber membership benefited your business so far?

I have met tons of new business contacts through the Chamber. I’ve utilized some great services and seen lots of familiar faces from the Chamber in the new storefront.



What do you love about owning a business in Waco?

Waco has such a sweet community. This is a small town with big city amenities.


Do you have any great advice for new small business owners?

Yes! Invest in a good accountant! No, really, invest in your employees. Being a great business owner starts inside the business, rather than outside of it. A loyal employee is better than a billboard.


On the weekends or in your free time, what are some of your favorite things to do in Waco?

Cameron Park is one of my very favorite places to hang out. I feel God there. I also love supporting other local businesses, especially woman-owned and -ran businesses. The Farmer’s Market is a Saturday morning must and Dayspring Baptist Church on Sunday!




Front cover web

Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about the booming tourist business in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!

Comments a



Categories: News

Article contributed by Carla Pendergraft, Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau, published in the third quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


Momentum in the Tourist Sector
With Chip and Joanna’s hit HGTV show “Fixer Upper” ending this spring, national headlines have predicted the Waco tourism boom is at an end. “What goes up, must come down,” they say.


Tourism-for-TOCWEBBut the numbers tell a different story. For the first five months of 2018, Waco saw an incredible five percent growth rate of visitors, from 1,098,075 to 1,153,403. Remember, this increase is on top of several additional years of growth. In 2016, Waco saw about 700,000 visitors; now, Waco is consistently welcoming over two million visitors per year.

Hotel revenues have also continued to show healthy increases. Hotel tax receipts through May are sitting at $2,669,182, as compared to $2,405,893 for the same period last year, an increase of 11 percent. New hotels coming online include the La Quinta del Sol, Hilton Garden Inn and the Springhill Suites, with others in the pipeline. Over 50 permitted vacation rentals are currently listed on our tourism website at WacoHeartofTexas.com, with more going through the permitting process.

We see momentum in the tourism sector in other ways too, as Waco’s entrepreneurial culture continues to blossom. At least six food trucks have either opened or are building brick-and-mortar locations. Local tour companies are spreading the word to visitors every day about how fun Waco is to visit, and their companies are adding jobs regularly as their popularity grows. New businesses, like e-sports/gaming establishments, restaurants, brewpubs, and cycle bars are opening. Shops catering to the farmhouse/shabby chic style have sprung up, and live music, once rare in Waco, can be heard in many establishments.

Nearly all of these ventures are small businesses owned by local entrepreneurs who believe in the future of Waco. Most are thriving, especially those who have learned to encourage their customers to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, Google or Facebook, who listen to what their customers say about how to improve visitor experiences. Some business owners also teach their employees to be positive and helpful about Waco, to cross-refer business so that others can benefit, and to have a ready answer to the popular question, “What is there to see and do in Waco?”


Speaking to the Visitor
When a visitor says, “Chip and Joanna sure put Waco on the map,” the visitor is actually saying, “Chip and Joanna put Waco on my map.” Their awareness of Waco as a destination for a visit was elevated by the show. Waco has been around since 1849, but many people outside of Texas were not aware of its charms until recently. As Wacoans, we have to translate to understand what the visitor actually means.

The successful tourism business will encourage employees to speak to visitors, ask where he or she is from and how the visitor heard about Waco. Many visitors are “Fixer Upper” fans and will enjoy expressing that. Even if we’ve heard it many times, we should act as if we haven’t heard it before and channel employees at Disneyland, who must remember that the visitor they encounter today is on a trip of a lifetime, even though Disneyland is old news to them. We have to make the “Waco experience” new each day for each visitor, as we are all ambassadors for Waco.

Speaking of ambassadors, the Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau is partnering with the City of Waco on a “Welcome to Waco” tourism ambassadors program designed to encourage people to reach out to welcome visitors. Waco tourism ambassador t-shirts and other swag will soon be available at the Tourist Information Center, located next to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum. To learn more about getting involved as an ambassador or to nominate an individual as an ambassador, visit WhatsWithThePineapple.com.


How else can we reach out to visitors? Most Wacoans know when they see a visitor on the street – they’re wandering around downtown, looking a little lost, or peering at one of the map kiosks, trying to decide where to grab a bite to eat. When you see a visitor, just offering your assistance can make a big difference. Ask them if you can help them find something, strike up a conversation and ask them where they’re from. They will be grateful you asked. You may be one of the great memories of their trip to Waco.


Our goal is for every visitor with whom we have contact to have a unique and wonderful experience they remember for the rest of their lifetime, an experience they rave about to their friends, an experience that makes them long to return for another visit, inspire their friends to visit, or maybe even to move here! We are Waco’s ambassadors, and Waco’s future after “Fixer Upper” is in our hands.




Front cover web

Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about the booming tourist business in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!




Categories: News

In the 1990s, a group came together and formed the Area Industry Managers (AIM) committee, an amalgamation of greater Waco industry businesses who recognized the rapid development of advanced manufacturing and wanted to work together to keep Waco ahead of the curve. The Economic Development team at the Greater Waco Chamber is committed to making Greater Waco the community of choice for business, and AIM helps support and contribute to that mission by providing a forum for Greater Waco’s major industrial employers to share best practices, discuss relevant legislative policies, and serve as a voice for advanced manufacturers and distributors in the region.


Made up of 60 members, AIM’s key objective is to foster open communication between major employers in McLennan County. Quarterly meetings are hosted at different member facilities to provide a peer-group setting that allows for discussion of common issues and trends in the manufacturing sector. Some of the recent meetings have covered topics like Innovation in Business, Employee Recognition Programs, Renewable Incentives, and Work/Life Balance and Importance of Understanding Millennials.



Allergan plc, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is a bold, global pharmaceutical company. Allergan is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercializing branded pharmaceutical, device, biologic, surgical and regenerative medicine products for patients around the world. Allergan employs more than 17,000 people around the globe, including at their plant here in Waco. Learn more at Allergan.com.


Domtar Personal Care

Domtar makes products that people around the world rely on every day. They transform sustainable wood fibers into a wide variety of everyday products, from copy paper to adult and baby diapers. Domtar is the largest manufacturer of uncoated freesheet in North America and one of the largest producers of absorbent hygiene products in the world. Learn more at DomtarPersonalCare.com.


Manitou Group

For over 50 years, Manitou Group has been manufacturing material handling equipment. They employ 170 people in Waco who are involved in the production and modification of forklifts. Recently, a $283,000 grant was awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills Development Fund to the Manitou Group and Texas State Technical College. This will not only help improve workers skills, but also help create jobs. Find out more at Manitou.com.


Packless Industries

Packless Industries is a leading manufacturer of heat transfer and other metal hose products committed to providing the air conditioning, heating and refrigeration industries with the highest quality fluid heat transfer parts in 1933. Based in Waco, Packless products are used across the world, with customers ranging from the giants of American industry to the small, one-man business. Learn more at Packless.com.



From small beginnings, TYMCO® now has an international network of dealers with representatives on every major continent. TYMCO employs more than 150 people in a state-of-the-art facility in Waco. They first introduced and perfected the Regenerative Air Sweeper that is the standard by which all air sweepers are measured today. TYMCO maximizes output while minimizing overhead, which translates to economically priced equipment. TYMCO, a family owned and day-to-day managed company, dominates a market traditionally controlled by corporate conglomerates. Learn more at TYMCO.com.



Versalift is a leading manufacturer of bucket trucks, digger derricks, cable placers and high reach aerial lifts for power generation, transmission and distribution, telecommunication, sign, light, and traffic and tree care industries. Orders begin as raw material and a build list, and transform into one of the safest, most reliable and highest quality bucket trucks in the world, delivered with the promise that they are safe, reliable and will stand the test of time. Based in Waco, Versalift’s family of distributors spans North America, Latin America and Europe. Learn more at Versalift.com.


AIM Member Businesses: 

Arconic Fastening Systems
Associated Hygienic Products
Axion Structural Innovations
Behlen Country
Capstone Mechanical
Caterpillar Inc.
Central Texas Iron Works
Clarke Products, Inc.
Coca-Cola North America
Commercial Metals Company
Croft Automation
Darr Equipment
Dean Foods
Domtar Personal Care
Elixir Industries
Englander dZignPak, LLC
Evans Enterprises
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
First Title Company of Waco
Hobbs Bonded Fiber
HOTEC (Heart of Texas Electric Co-op)
Imperial Woodworks, Inc.
Industrial Rigging Service of Central Texas, Inc.
Jobes Company
Kingsdown, Inc.
L-3 Technologies
Lehigh Cement Co.
Manitou Americas
MarathonNorco Aerospace
Mars Wrigley Confectionery
Merrick Engineering, Inc.
Oldcastle Materials, Inc.
Packaging Corporation of America
Packless Industries
Patrick Industries, Inc.
Polyglass USA, Inc.
Romark Logistics of Texas
Sanderson Farms, Inc.
SC2 Services, Inc.
Sherwin-Williams Co.
Shipp Belting Company
Spenco Footwear
Swan Products, LLC
Time Manufacturing Co.
Tractor Supply Co.
TransTech Fabrication, LLC
Turner Manufacturing
VanTran Industries, Inc.
Versalift Southwest
Vossloh Fastening Systems
Waco Composites, Ltd.
Waco ISD



2Q18_CoverArt webCheck out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine online,

featuring articles all about advanced manufacturing in Waco, new

Chamber members, member news and more!











Categories: News

Article by Whitney Richter, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Baylor University, published in the second quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine


When the Great Depression of the 1930s dethroned King Cotton as the powerhouse of the Waco economy, the city’s developing manufacturing industry helped carry it through the lean years that followed.


Today, Greater Waco is home to a robust manufacturing sector that spans the aerospace, heavy equipment, structural fastener, glass and composite materials, packaging, housing, transportation, consumer goods, food and beverage industries and numerous others.


In Greater Waco, more and more companies are turning toward advanced manufacturing — a business concept that capitalizes on non-traditional, newly developed technologies. While the smartest companies have always kept up with new developments, advanced manufacturing requires a higher level of attention to today’s complex and rapidly changing technological landscape. It can be a difficult, expensive process, but Greater Waco-area companies have something of an advantage: many of the most innovative technologies and processes to support advanced manufacturing are being developed right in their own backyard.


BRIC - Baylor Research and Innovation Collaboration - Building - Exterior, Interior – 12/18/2013 **Photos Courtesy of Charles Davis Smith Photography**

BRIC – Baylor Research and Innovation Collaboration – Building – Exterior, Interior – 12/18/2013
**Photos Courtesy of Charles Davis Smith Photography**

BRIC: An Innovation for Innovation 

Since its January 2013 opening, the BRIC — Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative — has provided a uniquely conceived environment for the genesis, cultivation and development of new ideas, technologies and techniques, all underpinned by the BRIC’s five foundational pillars: fundamental and applied research, industry collaboration, business acceleration and incubation, workforce development and STEM educational outreach.


Fundamental and Applied Research
BRIC researchers are experts in an array of scientific, technological and mathematical fields of inquiry. And the environment in which they work — with full-featured laboratories, microgravity drop tower, clean rooms, testing facilities, and high-performance computing resources — is specifically designed to encourage the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary exchange of ideas. One of the natural outcomes of this combination is the discovery of new knowledge, innovative products and improved processes that help support advanced manufacturing. Indeed, the first patent to emerge from BRIC-industry collaborative research was a completely new, fieldable, non-destructive process for determining the integrity of structural aircraft components made of composite materials for aerospace giant L3 Technologies.


Industry Collaboration
L3 Technologies was the first company to tap into the BRIC’s unique repository of resources for innovation. In just five years, the list of BRIC industry partners has grown to seven with over 150 other corporations and organizations, both local and national, exploring the possibility of teaming with the BRIC.


Baylor Magazine - John Fitch – Birkeland Current – BRIC – Aviation - 02/22/2017

Baylor Magazine – John Fitch – Birkeland Current – BRIC – Aviation – 02/22/2017

In addition to L3 Technologies, current BRIC research industry partners include technology innovator Birkeland Current, Structural Health Data Systems, Education Service Center Region 12, educational architecture firm Huckabee, Inc., aerospace technology firm Delta G Design, and the most recent addition, ViZiv Technologies, a leader in electrical distribution and management.


As they grow in number and diversity, BRIC research industry partners are proving to be synergistic resources themselves, each bringing with them specialized expertise that can provide support to Baylor research or other BRIC industry partners’ research and product innovation. Other companies looking to create a new invention or revolutionize a product or process can do so through sponsored research with Baylor and the BRIC.


Business Incubation, Acceleration and Commercialization
Offering the resources and expertise of faculty and students from Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, LAUNCH, the BRIC’s in-house accelerator and incubator for technology-based businesses provides crucial guidance to start-up and existing business owners in moving their companies and products into the marketplace. While LAUNCH’s primary function is commercialization of technologies developed by Baylor researchers, the same resources, infrastructure and services are routinely available to and used by BRIC research industry partners and local entrepreneurs.


The BRIC faculty and staff have assisted various companies to develop ideas from inception to formation to commercialization, including equine therapy simulation company, Chariot Innovations, Higher Education Innovation (HEI), Peak Nano Systems, College Choice Today and Birkeland Current’s most recent spin-off company, Sovrin IoT.


(Workforce) bric industrial systems J5D_4406 WEBWorkforce Development
According to a report by economic development consulting firm Camoin Associates published in the December 2014 issue of Expansion Solutions magazine,
“One of the most important drivers for advanced manufacturing businesses is the availability of a skilled workforce. In some industries, workers can be trained to perform duties on the job. Generally, advanced manufacturing is not one of those industries. The integration of technology and advanced machinery diminishes the need for “unskilled” workers and increases the reliance on workers with the sophisticated skills required to operate the equipment. Advanced manufacturing training courses and programs in community colleges, technical schools, and even K-12 education systems are essential to supporting growth in the advanced manufacturing sector.”


With 45,000-square-feet of dedicated instructional space in the BRIC, Texas State Technical College, the BRIC’s workforce training partner, provides rapid-response, transformative workforce development closely tailored to the needs of Greater Waco and Texas industries.


For more than 50 years, TSTC has anticipated the workforce needs of Texas industries with effective training programs for evolving and emerging technologies such as laser electro-optics, robotics, and biomedical and aerospace technologies. The collaboration between TSTC and Baylor in workforce development is clearly having an impact as shown by the number of TSTC graduates who, working with Baylor faculty and graduate student researchers, are initially trained in conducting research for BRIC industry partners and then go on to become full-time employees of those firms.


STEM Educational Outreach
Long-term viability and sustainability of any technology-based economy is reliant on cultivating the next generation of students to fill the ranks of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and other professionals essential to the development of new products and processes. The BRIC educational research and outreach programs are designed to encourage students from kindergarten through high school to choose and persist in a career path in a STEM discipline — science, technology, engineering or mathematics.


Baylor faculty, staff and graduate students are working with Education Service Center (ESC) Region 12 and school architect and educational environment designer Huckabee, Inc. to evaluate the impact of new classroom furnishings and arrangements on student engagement in the classroom. The success of this collaborative effort is reflected in the professional development that supports teachers as they transition their classrooms into student-centered active learning environments. Education specialists from ESC Region 12, the BRIC-based Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER), and Baylor School of Education engage in research and directly support STEM teachers through the creation of an instructional and professional development program that will introduce local students to the phenomenon of microgravity (1.5 seconds) using the BRIC’s new state-of-the-art 49-foot, research-grade drop tower. Within the BRIC, students will also get a close-up view of the American space program by touring the BRIC’s $6 million collection of NASA artifacts from the Apollo and Space Shuttle eras.


Additionally, each year undergraduate students spend the summer in the BRIC conducting research with Baylor faculty while supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA and other funding agencies. This program places the students alongside Baylor graduate students, where they conduct research, compile data, and reveal their findings in presentations at science conferences.


(BRIC Clean Room-Research) IMG_8388 WEB

A Resource of Growing Importance to the Greater Waco Community
Beyond its primary function as a 330,000-square-foot research and development facility, with its convenient location, abundant parking, collection of Karl Umlauf industrial-themed art, and attractive, well-equipped meeting rooms, the BRIC has become increasingly valuable as a meeting venue for scientific, professional and civic events of all kinds. In the fiscal year spanning 2016-17, the BRIC hosted over 750 events and tours and over 15,000 visitors. According to estimates by the Association of University Research Parks the impact of the BRIC to the local economy was over $34 million in 2017 alone, which equates to a 14 percent increase over 2016 and an 82 percent increase since 2014.


Through its international speaker series BRIC Foundations: Perspectives from Leaders in Innovation, the BRIC provides a public forum for the presentation of timely ideas of importance to the Greater Waco business and manufacturing community by foremost experts in fields ranging from physics, chemistry and workforce development to artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and education.


In his November 2014 BRIC Foundations presentation, Mr. Paul Evans, P.E., Director of San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute’s Manufacturing Systems Department, spoke of the continuing and growing importance of manufacturing to the U.S. economy and specifically addressed advanced manufacturing:

“If you’ve been in any U.S. manufacturing facilities recently you’ll find a lot of advanced manufacturing activities going on. Gone are the days when we think about bringing back some of the kinds of highly repetitive manual manufacturing tasks that have been off-shored… Manufacturing has a higher multiplier effect for every dollar invested than any other sector. I don’t think many people realize that. If you want to start generating economic benefits for your region, you want to put in a manufacturing plant.”


As new advanced manufacturing companies form locally and corporations already well-versed in the practice come to the area, and as the advanced manufacturing movement continues to expand in established Greater Waco industries, the BRIC’s capacity to foster and facilitate the success of these businesses will keep pace, helping to ensure a flourishing and vibrant community.



2Q18_CoverArt webCheck out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine online,

featuring articles all about advanced manufacturing in Waco, new

Chamber members, member news and more!











Categories: News

Article contributed by the City of Waco, published in the second quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


Waco is on its way to becoming a major metropolitan city. The significant growth in recent years has transformed this city into a center of excellence and economic development with dynamic potential. Growth in Waco is good. Waco is a great place to be!


Waco - Lake Waco 07 WEB w logo

Boosted by its convenient location along the I-35 corridor between Austin and Dallas, this city with humble beginnings now has the qualities to attract new businesses, prime talent, tourists and future residents. Waco’s attractive business incentives and land availability, the abundance of job opportunities and its excellent quality of life with low cost of living has fueled this transformation. But to continue the momentum, investment in necessary infrastructure improvements are essential.
To meet these growth-related challenges, the city implemented Building Waco, a 10-year Capital Improvement Project aimed to renew and rebuild necessary infrastructure to foster and sustain development. The program includes $131 million in water projects, $139 million in wastewater projects, and $50 million in street improvements.


The city of Waco currently serves the water needs of more than 131,000 residents and seeks to serve an additional 40,000 over the next 25 years. Waco has initiated numerous project updates to replace storage tanks, install new water lines (replacing some that are more than 100 years old), constructing new water pump stations and replacing Owen Lane Tower with a larger capacity water tower, among other initiatives.


While the majority of the Building Waco budget has targeted water projects, necessary capital improvement projects go beyond just water. Other investments in traditional infrastructure—such as roads, bridges and buildings—are also vital to foster Waco’s economic development and keep the city attractive. Preserving and modernizing the city’s aesthetics are just as important as keeping it functional.


Buiding Waco - Owen Lane Water Tower WEB

Cities like Waco experience natural ebbs and flows in growth patterns. While there’s evidence the future looks bright, the city can still benefit from fostering economic development and growth now. Waco already offers much for current and future residents, businesses and tourists to enjoy.


For example, Lake Waco was originally designed to deliver a safe water supply to the city’s residents. It now also serves as entertainment, and residents and visitors regularly enjoy boating, fishing and swimming on the lake. Long-term city planning provided a man-made lake to Wacoans with a reliable and ample water supply, treatment capacity (more than twice the amount of Waco’s highest demand day) and modern-day delivery infrastructure to safely transport the water to the customer.



Additionally, like other areas in Texas, Waco has a generous supply of low-cost land available for development. Having land available is appealing to companies seeking to relocate and construct headquarters. Recognizing this need as essential for growth, the city, private individuals and non-profits, such as the Waco Industrial Foundation created eleven business parks. Not only will these business parks attract new companies, they will help further the city’s goal to diversify the job force and offer a wide array of jobs. Further, the city of Waco proactively installed utility infrastructure in these industrial parks, which is a great advantage when recruiting a company to a particular
site. With the infrastructure in place, the site is construction-ready.


Water Tower Demolition - West Waco 16 WEB

Another way to ensure the city’s future economic development is through its excellent educational opportunities. Waco is home to one of Texas’ largest and oldest universities, Baylor University, with more than 16,000 students. The university’s graduate programs—including its law school and business school—are nationally acclaimed. Baylor’s athletics department attracts visitors from across the state to sporting events each weekend, which contributes to tourism revenue. Also, Waco is home to McLennan Community College, with an enrollment of nearly 9,000 students, and Texas State Technical College, which has about 4,000 students enrolled. While attracting new talent is vital for the community to thrive, retaining talented graduates is just as important.


With these assets, Waco’s economic outlook is bright. The city is projected to grow at a healthy pace. In fact, based on an economic development report by economist Ray Perryman, the metropolitan area (including McLennan and Falls counties) is projected to expand by some 59,100 residents by 2040, for a total population of 323,000. The economy is likely to double in size as measured by output (real gross product) and could accelerate more through effective planning and strategic investments.
Our leaders look forward to diversifying job opportunities and industries, as well as attracting and retaining excellent talent so that current and future residents will continue to experience a great quality of life. All of this will be made possible with a proactive approach toward modernizing and beautifying the city through Building Waco. With many projects underway and more yet to accomplish, Waco is ready to thrive.


For more information on Building Waco, please visit www.buildingwaco.com or follow the City of Waco on Facebook and Twitter.



2Q18_CoverArt web






Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine,

featuring articles all about advanced manufacturing in Waco,

new Chamber members, member news and more!







Categories: News

Article by Debbie Keel, Regional Director, AT&T Inc., published in the second quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


AT&T is aiming to be the first U.S. carrier to launch standards-based, mobile 5G services to customers this year. It recently announced Waco as one of the first cities where it will launch 5G by the end of this year. But Waco residents won’t have to wait until 5G gets here to start experiencing faster wireless speeds.


5G Header WEB

AT&T launched the 5G Evolution network in parts of Waco just a few weeks ago. Our 5G Evolution network has a peak theoretical speed of at least 400 Mbps (megabits per second) and it lays the foundation for 5G by enabling faster speeds now, and preparing for upgrades to 5G when it’s here. The investment in the future of connectivity in Waco is bringing real benefits to real customers today.


What will mobile 5G mean for Waco?
AT&T anticipates 5G will eventually deliver data much faster than the current LTE network. Customers may also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency impacts things like the time between pressing play and seeing a video start to stream or hitting a web link and seeing a webpage begin to load. For context, MIT researchers discovered the human brain “latency” is 13 milliseconds.


5G could ultimately help change the way Waco residents work, play and enjoy entertainment at home or on the go. It will accelerate the delivery of entertainment at home and on the go, and many more consumer and business experiences. It will enable new experiences like virtual reality, telemedicine, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more.


One of the coolest entertainment opportunities with tomorrow’s 5G could be augmented reality and virtual reality, often called AR/VR. Users need the kind of ultra-low latency rates 5G is expected to eventually provide to really enjoy these technologies. 5G could also enhance future self-driving cars using live maps for near real-time navigation. Ultra-low latency – anticipated to be delivered by 5G – will be an essential part of making live maps effective.


A hospital could respond faster to changes in patients’ vital signs with edge computing inside and outside the hospital. Doctors could employ telemedicine and robotics-assisted surgery because of 5G’s latency benefits. Or, think of a manufacturer that operates fast-moving machinery. 5G can allow them to identify and fix mechanical failures in record time. The capabilities of 5G could save time and money by helping to identify machine defects sooner.


AT&T thinks the 5G opportunities will be endless – whether you’re a mobile consumer, small- and medium-sized business owner, or large enterprise in Waco.
AT&T expects 5G will also help manage the surge in mobile data usage on their network. Since the end of 2011, data traffic crossing the network on an average business day has increased from 30 petabytes to now more than 206 petabytes. It was 114 petabytes a day as recently as 2015. In fact, data traffic on the mobile network has grown more than 360,000 percent since 2007.


AT&T 5G Trials in Waco
Waco has also been a city where AT&T has been conducting its 5G trials, most notably at Magnolia Market at the Silos. Here are some key findings AT&T learned about 5G fixed wireless during its Waco trial:
• Observed wireless speeds of approximately 1.2 Gbps in a 400 MHz channel.
• Observed RAN latency rates at 9-12 milliseconds.
• Supported hundreds of simultaneous users on a network that was using a 5G data connection.


5G is getting closer to reality and we’re excited to see how people and businesses in Waco will use this ground-breaking technology starting later this year.


2Q18_CoverArt web






Check out this edition of the Greater Waco Business magazine online,

featuring articles all about advanced manufacturing in Waco, new

Chamber members, member news and more!





Categories: News

Featured in the second quarter edition of the Greater Waco Business Magazine.


Do you have great news about your member business? We want to share it! Send your member news to Autumn Outlaw



Sam_Lynsey-cmyk WEB

La Fiesta Celebrates 55 Year Anniversary

After returning home from war in 1963, Samuel Castillo Sr. opened La Fiesta Restaurant & Cantina with only $700. Fifty-five years later, the third and fourth generation owners, Sam Castillo Jr. and his daughter Lynsey, continue the La Fiesta tradition of serving real authentic Tex-Mex food. Without the customers and the longtime support of Waco, La Fiesta believes they would not be a part of such a rich history.


2018 marks the 55th anniversary of La Fiesta Restaurant & Cantina in Waco and they are inviting all of Waco to celebrate with them. Dine in for lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and get 55-cent iced tea with your meal, topped off with free dessert, because every anniversary lunch should end in something sweet!

Also celebrate La Fiesta’s 55th anniversary by participating in the La Fiesta photo contest. Send your favorite La Fiesta memories (new or old) to photomemories@lafiesta.com for the chance to win great prizes. Tag your photos with the hashtag #LaFaLove on social media.



Doug Dwyer Appointed to Titus Center Advisory Board

Doug Dwyer - headshot-WEB

Doug Dwyer will join nearly four dozen franchising experts on the Advisory Board of the Titus Center for Franchising, a Presidential Center of Excellence at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Titus Center offers coursework leading to a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in franchising. The only academic center of its kind in Florida, the Titus Center facilitates internships, job shadowing and training at area franchises.


Doug Dwyer is President and Chief Stewarding Officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen and has led the company since 1997. His management expertise includes overseeing operations, franchise development and support, marketing development, national accounts and warehousing.

During their two-year terms, Advisory Board members will attend steering meetings, evaluate Titus Center programming, speak to undergraduate students, and advocate for the program. They will also have the opportunity to participate in Titus Center Mastermind events dedicated to collecting knowledge and solving business challenges.



Mark Stewart-WEB

Bird-Kultgen Names Mark Stewart to Management Team

Bird-Kultgen Ford is proud to announce the hiring of Mark Stewart as a member of their management team. Stewart comes to Bird-Kultgen with 19 years of dealership experience in sales, finance and insurance, advertising and dealership management. Stewart is a fourth-generation Wacoan and a graduate of Midway High School. He attended Baylor University, graduating with a BBA in Finance degree in 1999.





WacoISD -field RC WEB

Waco ISD New Turf Baseball Field Dedication

On April 27, the Waco ISD Athletic Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of the new infield turf on Veterans Field #1. This makes Waco ISD one of just a few Central Texas schools to have a turf baseball field, specifically, a Matrix synthetic turf system.

Baseball players from both Waco High School and University High School, along with WISD administration, were in attendance as superintendent Dr. A. Marcus Nelson cut the ribbon on the new all-weather infield before the final regular season game.



DSC_4497 WEB

Hill & Wilkinson Announcement

Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors recently announced it has completed construction on a $4 million, 22,000-square-foot renovation of the Harker Heights Central Fire Station, located at 401 Indian Trail. The Central Fire Station, originally constructed in 1985, has a new front entrance on the south side of the building, additional office and storage space, a new training room that will also be used as the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and an expanded kitchen and dining area. A fitness center was also added for firefighters and all city employees.

“I have been directly involved in a number of construction projects valued at hundreds of thousands to multi-millions,” shares Paul D. Sims, City of Harker Heights Fire Chief. “I know it pays to have a team like Hill & Wilkinson that can provide ongoing direction and insight as the process moves along.”

With 50 years in the construction business and 10 years serving Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas, Hill & Wilkinson (www.hill-wilkinson.com) consistently ranks among the top 400 contractors in the U.S., according to Engineering News-Record. The firm, known for its culture, has been named a Best Place to Work by the Dallas Business Journal and Austin Business Journal in multiple years. Hill & Wilkinson is a diversified general contractor overseeing all facets of ground-up and renovation construction and is headquartered in Richardson, Texas with an additional office in Austin, Texas.




Categories: News

Latest News

Waco’s Game Changers

Article written by Amanda Haygood, Great

November 29, 2018 read more

State of the State Luncheon

[gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="2

November 28, 2018 read more

Member Event Calendar

Contact Us

101 S. Third St. Waco TX 76701 | P.O. Box 1220 Waco TX 76703-1220 | (254) 757-5600

Waco Chamber