Three local minority business owners were recognized Tuesday for their
impact on the community at a luncheon hosted by the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce and the Texas A&M Department of Procurement Services.
Debbie Bearden, owner of Bottom Line Bookkeeping; Rudy Grimaldo owner of RDM Audio; and Robert Orzabal, president and CEO of Avinext, were honored with the annual Community Impact Award, which was first given out in 2003 to recognize Hispanic, African American, Asian, American Indian and female business owners.
"Eleven years ago, the Chamber of Commerce board made a decision to recognize the importance of underutilized businesses in our community," said Royce Hickman, president and CEO of the Chamber. "The intent was to increase exposure of these businesses and their owners, and also to formally recognize minority entrepreneurs who, by their businesses and personal contributions to our community, have made a significant contribution to our way of life. Many of them may have gone unnoticed ... For them to succeed we've got to do our part."
Bearden, the first recipient announced Tuesday, began a bookkeeping business out of her home 30 years ago with three clients. She now reaches hundreds of clients with $500,000 in sales and eight full-time employees.
In addition to Bottom Line Bookkeeping, in 2009 Bearden started American Lube Centers with three locations and a mobile unit that serves customers with on-site service. A fourth location is under construction in the Tower Point shopping center at William D. Fitch Parkway.
"I started in 1983 with three clients. I had been doing bookkeeping jobs, and about three months after I'd get them cleaned up, I'd get bored. So now when I get bored, I just go get more clients," Bearden said, laughing. "This [award] is amazing. I never expected it."
Rudy Grimaldo, the majority owner of RDM Audio, was asked to come on board in about 2010 by his father-in-law, James Haislet.
The company, which provides sound and lighting for concerts and other DJ services, has experienced a revenue growth of 200 percent in three-and-a-half years.
"I'm humbled and honored. My father-in-law, he's the genius behind RDM. He called me four years ago and said, 'Hey, do you want to come back to Bryan?'... I was glad to come back because four children later, we've got grandparents in the area," Grimaldo said to laughter from the audience. "Is it hard? Yes. But is it fun? Yes. It's an honor to me that I get to work with my family. This is a community that raised me. I hope that my four children -- my wife should actually get this award -- I'm honored that they can grow up in the same community I did."
As Grimaldo headed back to his seat, Ben Downs, chairman of the board of directors for the Chamber, returned to the podium to announce the final recipient. "Obviously you have a little spare time," Downs said about Grimaldo's four children, ages 4, 3, 2, and 3 months, to a roar of laughter from attendees.
Orzabal, president and CEO of Avinext, began his focus on building computers and computer networking out of a garage in 1988. The company, formerly known as MicroAge, has expanded into a 20,000-square-foot building at the corner of University Drive and Lincoln Avenue.
Orzabal said the company specializes in audio-video surveillance and just about anything computer-related.
"It's an honor to be appreciated by the community," Orzabal said.
To be eligible for the award, a business must be a member of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, have at least 51 percent minority ownership and have been in business for at least five years.
Hickman asked that community members who know of local businesses that fall under these guidelines encourage owners to register and become chamber members.
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