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Business women pave the way for others

Sept. 24, 2010 at 4:24 a.m.


With each issue, GC will feature five people from the Crossroads region, nominated by their friends and family, in order to celebrate those who contribute to our communities and play an integral role in different sectors of society. The September/October issue will honor the boosters in our schools who help to make dreams come true for many of our talented athletes, along with drill and dance teams. E-mail gc@vicad.com to find out how to nominate your favorite booster, or visit us on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/gcmagazine.

These five represent the many successful, dedicated women in business who have helped the Golden Crescent thrive. They were chosen based on success in their careers, devotion to serving the public and commitment to ethics and integrity.

Nancy Garner

Nominated by: Darla Zella, real estate agent

Family: Husband of 19 years, Dale; son, Travis Dollins, 35; son, Michael Garner, 29; grandson, Kaeden Dollins, 5

Background: Shortly after obtaining her real estate sales license in 1983, Garner started working for Woolson Real Estate founder, Robert B. Woolson, purchasing the company from him in 1996. By then, she had earned her broker's license (1987) and passed the CPA exam at the University of Houston-Victoria (1989), while establishing herself firmly in the community with many volunteer endeavors, which she continues today.

The 54-year-old served on the YMCA's board of directors for several years, has twice been president of the Victoria Board of Realtors, with several terms as treasurer under her belt as well. She has been on the Victoria Apartment Association as president, secretary and treasurer and is on the advisory council for Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church to develop future plans for the Town Plaza Mall. An avid hunter and gardener, this Victoria College graduate is also an active member of her church.

Words of advice to other businesswomen: Strive for a balanced life, but in business, have a long-term plan with short-term goals.

Keys to my success: The people who work with me; hard work; keeping my word; hard work; honest business practices; hard work; providing good service; and hard work. If you earn $1, then give $1.10 to your customer in value, hard work, education and hard work. I've learned to enjoy the small things in life like a great glass of iced tea.

I can't live without: God

I am passionate about: At the end of my life hearing "well done my good and faithful servant." I love my family; I can't put into words how I feel about my grandson. The people who work with me are family. I delight in the outdoors - gardening, hunting and fishing.

Cally Coleman Fromme

Nominated by: Eileen Coleman, a distant relative and close friend

Family: Husband of 10 years, Travis; daughter, Karoline, 9, and son, Coleman, 6

Background: The executive vice president of the Coleman family business, Zarsky Lumber Co., this 41-year-old mother of two has been deemed a "trailblazer" by the Lumbermen's Association of Texas and Louisiana. Graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Living in Victoria, Fromme went on to lead the way for women in a variety of male-dominated positions. She was the first woman president of the Victoria Rotary Club, as well as the first woman president of the Lumbermen's Association of Texas and Louisiana. She is now the vice chair of the board of directors of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and aspires to be the first woman to hold the chair position. Along with serving on many boards within the community, Fromme is also an active member of her church, First United Methodist, and a board member of the Trinity Episcopal School.

Words of advice to other businesswomen: Be confident and don't be timid about vocalizing your opinions. I work in a traditionally male-dominated industry. You cannot be successful in my world as a shrinking violet. Additionally, you need a sense of humor and a thick skin. An ability to joke around with the guys will get a woman farther than being easily offended and too "p.c." I'm not suggesting that a woman compromise her values, but a relaxed demeanor will certainly make your work a lot more fun.

Keys to my success: A solid liberal arts background gave me a good start. Opening my mind to recognize the great value in different opinions, different experiences and different types of people translated into being able to work with a variety of personalities. A typical workday will put me in contact with hard-working laborers with limited education and perhaps limited English, along with folks with multiple degrees and privileged backgrounds. I have a genuine respect for both and everyone in between. It truly takes all kinds to move the wheels of progress.

Another key to my professional growth has been saying "yes." Saying yes to an invitation to serve an organization's board. Saying yes to a request to take on a project at church. Saying yes when asked to take on a new role at work. A willingness to step out of my comfort zone has only opened new doors and led to new opportunities. Knowing when and how to say "no," however, must be learned. You cannot do it all...at least you can't do it all well. Do not spread yourself too thin or the quality of your work will suffer.

I can't live without: No. 1 - my support system. My husband, parents, in-laws and caregiver to my children are always supporting me and my activities and cheering me on from the sidelines. I could not do all that I do without their help, love and encouragement. They are my greatest fans. No. 2 - Every now and then, an hour by myself can make a world of difference. So many people have demands on my time and attention. It can get overwhelming. I sometimes crave "alone time." When I finally am able to steal an hour, I am a new woman.

I am passionate about: My family and my desire to raise my children in a manner that is pleasing to God. I hope to set a good example for them in all that I do. Part of that goal is to exemplify to my son and daughter that a woman can be both a loving mother and wife, while managing a career and community service.

I would not have the ability to do any of this if I didn't live in the United States of America. Another passion is this great country and the ideals upon which it was created. Included in that is capitalism, free enterprise and freedom. In the U.S., there are no limits on what a person can accomplish personally and professionally.

Finally, I believe that everyone has an obligation to give back to the community. Every person has the ability to do something to give back. Whether it is something as simple as preparing a meal for a family in need or something as grand as organizing a fundraiser for a non-profit, we all need to do our part. This community is good to us; we need to be good to her.

I would not have the ability to do any of this if I didn't live in the United States of America. Another passion is this great country and the ideals upon which it was created. Included in that is capitalism, free enterprise and freedom. In the U.S., there are no limits on what a person can accomplish personally and professionally.

Finally, I believe that everyone has an obligation to give back to the community. Every person has the ability to do something to give back. Whether it is something as simple as preparing a meal for a family in need or something as grand as organizing a fundraiser for a non-profit, we all need to do our part. This community is good to us; we need to be good to her.Cheryl Johnson

Nominated by: Wendi DuVall, sister

Family: Husband of 19 years, James; daughters, Rachel, 12, and Lauren, 9

Background: Owner of Outburst Advertising and publisher and owner of the magazine Victoria In Motion, the 46-year-old Victoria resident is also very active in the community. The California State University -- Fullerton graduate, with a bachelor's degree in religious studies, began her career as a sales person for the local KVIC/KPLV radio station. While starting her family, Johnson decided to also start her own business, Outburst, building it up to the well-known agency it is today. Now with six employees, she and her company have been recognized for writing, creativity and commercial work for their ad campaigns. A dedicated volunteer, Johnson also works for community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Man 2 Man and Victoria Ballet Theatre. She has traveled to Mexico with her church, Trinity Episcopal, on two occasions for mission trips, delivering food and supplies. According to her sister, Johnson successfully balances her home, business and friendships "in a way that benefits our community and her customers while always having time left for her family."

Words of advice to other businesswomen: As my friend and role model Louise Patillo has told me, "Under promise and over deliver."

Keys to my success: I think the reason I'm successful is that I've always been passionate about what I do, and I've been fortunate to discover a career that I love and can make money at. And I try to remember that my business is a gift from God and that my responsibility is to always treat it with appreciation and respect.

I can't live without: Outside of my family and friends (which are a given), my computer and the Internet. I am a complete and total cyber-techno-nerd who would absolutely dissolve into a shuddering puddle of goo if someone took away my laptop. My kids are pretty much convinced that if I had to choose between them and my computer, well, they would be packing their bags.

I am passionate about: My family and, although I don't always succeed, I do try to put them ahead of my career. I'm also passionate about my friends.

Annette Rath

Nominated by: Kerry Rhotenberry, friend

Family: Husband of 31 years, Erwin; son and daughter-in-law Anthony and Shelly, grandson Ashton; son and daughter-in-law James and Kassie, granddaughter Mackenzi

Background: While running four businesses in Cuero with her husband, Rath remains a valued asset in the community as a volunteer. This grandmother is a member of the Cuero Chamber of Commerce, having served as president, Cuero Business Co-op and St. Michael's Catholic Church. She is also a past president of the Cuero Turkeyfest Association. Their businesses include Cuero/Yoakum Propane, The Cooking Depot, which provides gourmet cookware and foods, along with cooking classes with well-known chefs, and Main Street Kaffee House & Deli. She and her husband also share ownership of Cuero Pecan House with Mary Beth and William Finney.

Words of advice to other businesswomen: Stay strong and remain determined. Surround yourself with caring individuals and remember that life is not about being successful, but enjoying what you do and who you are.

Keys to my success: I'm only here today because of my supportive family and great employees.

I can't live without: Faith, family, friends and the support of all the customers and members of the community.

I am passionate about: Food

Elorine Sitka

Nominated by: Pauline Ward, friend.

Family: Husband, Al Sitka (Elorine and Al were married in 1965. He passed away 10 years ago); adult sons, Greg, Darryl, Russell and Chris; grandchildren, Brittany, Brooks, Brady, Brock, Bryce, Brighton, Braxton, Dylan and Sloan

Background: Raised on a farm in Moulton, Sitka learned about hard work early on. Carrying those lessons with her throughout her life, she graduated as her high school valedictorian, went on to graduate from Baldwin Business College in 1963 and has been in her second job for more than 40 years. While maintaining her family and working her way up to vice president of the Yoakum National Bank, the 64-year-old strives to take leadership roles in various community organizations and has been on the Yoakum City Council for the last decade. A member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Sitka has also served on the boards of the Yoakum Bulldog Booster Club, Yoakum Heritage Museum, Helping Hands and Hearts of Yoakum, American Cancer Society - Yoakum, Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, Yoakum Red Cross, South Central Texas Bankers Association, Yoakum Community Hospital and much more. She has been associated with the Yoakum Little League Program for 30 years and is a member of the Yoakum Pilot Club.

Words of advice to other businesswomen: Have a positive attitude. Don't expect co-workers or others to do more than you would do. Try to be understanding and a good listener whenever problems arise. Be ready to help and be dedicated.

Keys to my success: I was raised in a good Christian home in a rural community with good work ethics. I allocated my time to my family, church, job and my community each day.

I can't live without: God, my family and my friends

I am passionate about: Spending my time during the work week with my co-workers at the Yoakum National Bank, and working on projects to improve the image of the Yoakum community. I dedicate my evenings and weekends to my children and grandchildren by cooking and working with the family cattle operation. I love attending all local Bulldog sports and see the youth of this community grow and become leaders of tomorrow.

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