Dedication Served from the Center of the Valley
Sometimes conducting business from a central point just makes sense. Combine that with a strong history, tradition and smart business acumen and you are home, in Mercedes.
In 1935 Richard McAfee saw the writing on the wall, well in the dirt maybe, when he chose to open an insurance company that would service the agricultural industry. Mr. McAfee figured out a way to insure the cottonseed, which launched his business. He lived in Harlingen but knew the best place to build his business was in Mercedes. At that time, it was the crown jewel of the Valley – destined to be big. He needed a central point to facilitate business and serve his customers, the farmers and ranchers of the Rio Grande Valley.
Fast forward a little more than 30 years when a young man returns to his Valley home from overseas after serving in the Army. Roberto Garza was stationed in Germany where he met and married the love of his life, Josefa also known as Pepita. Pepita and her mother had moved to Germany from Spain.
Roberto came home with a wife and a baby in tow and goes to work for Mercedes National Bank and Pepita worked for Haggar as a seamstress. Just a couple of years later the couple had another child and decided it was time to bring Pepita’s mom to the United States to help with the babies. Roberto wasn’t at the bank long before Mr. McAfee saw his talent and brought him over to the agency to work. He knew it wouldn’t be long before his retirement and wanted good people in place to move the business forward. By 1969 Roberto and two others bought the agency from McAfee and just five years later he bought out their shares.
Roberto continued to serve the agriculture community but in order to grow the business he needed to diversify. He began to work with local commercial developers offering them construction policies that took the agency in a new and exciting direction.
He became very involved in the community, especially the Chamber of Commerce where Roberto started the Crown Classic golf tournament. Giving back to his community was and has always been his mantra. He and Pepita raised five children in Mercedes in the same home they live today. The children all attended Mercedes schools where they participated in sports and other extra curricular activities. They each went off to college and are successful community driven citizens living by their parent’s example.
Two sons, Robert and Richard, worked for their dad upon their college graduation and learned the business and in 2009 they bought the agency. They follow in their dad’s footsteps as they forge forward. They made it through one of the hardest economic downturns by diversifying – taking a page out of their father’s book. Since the commercial construction industry was almost at a standstill, they went back to the agency’s roots, literally, and began to serve more of the agriculture industry. The strategy worked and got them through the recession. The business has stayed in a growth mode through it all.
Robert said they remain in Mercedes because it is central to their clients who they regularly go visit. But mostly they stay because of the tradition and historic foundation built by Mr. McAfee and Roberto Garza. Most of their business may not be in Mercedes but they have soul in this community and that matters. That is what I call Mercedes Style!