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Our enrollment numbers have increased along with our fundraising awareness. Staff and students have enjoyed TCA’s growth and recognition, as well as our higher profile in targeted media that directly engages our key constituents.
~ Becky D. Lewis,
Executive Director of Development
Trinity Christian Academy
Several firms were competing to launch our social media strategy but C. Pharr’s strategic, multi-faceted approach to digital communication paired with its PR expertise put them ahead of the curve.
~ Kimberly B.,
N. TX hospital
We count on C. Pharr & Company to publicize our land acquisitions nationally to remind the marketplace that we are a very active investor.
~ Kevin Watson,
For more than eight years, the statewide publicity and strategic counsel C.Pharr & Company provided has helped us grow our business throughout Texas.
~ Chris Peck,
VP Texas Division
Cynthia Pharr Lee is one of the 25 most influential business women in Dallas.
~ Dallas Business Journal
In a number of crisis situations, my executive teams have trusted C. Pharr & Company for sound communications counsel and implementation.
~ Ken Cichocki
Chief Financial Officer
Every PR initiative we've done together has begun with insightful strategy and yielded results that have built Westmount’s leadership profile, locally and nationally.
~ Cliff Booth, CEO
Westmount Realty Capital
April 27, 2015 Dallas Morning News
Defying stereotype, Many Millennials Avoid Job Hopping
Dallas Morning News business reporter, Hanah Cho, recently wrote an article about millennials who are defying the "job hopping" stereotype and instead, are still in their first jobs since graduation. Hanah spoke with four different millennials to get insight on why they have stayed with their first employer. C. Pharr Vice President, Leah Ekmark Williams is one of those millennials. Below is an excerpt from Leah's interview. And, if you want more insight of how this article came to be, read Leah's blog which outlines her strategy for pitching the millennial trend:
Likewise, public relations executive Leah Ekmark Williams sees a long-term career path at C. Pharr & Co., a public relations and marketing firm in Dallas.
In an industry where there’s frequent job churn among young professionals, Williams is unusual, having been at the firm since she was 23. She is now 32 and the company’s vice president.
Williams didn’t plan to stay this long. “I had no intention of [C. Pharr & Co] being my first and only job for the rest of my life.”
The plan was to spend three to four years on the first job and then move to California.
At around the three-year mark, firm founder Cynthia Pharr Lee made Williams an attractive offer: Stay on to become a partner and eventually take over the business.
January 14, 2015 Gorkana
Behind the Headlines with Leah Ekmark Williams
Leah Ekmark Williams, Vice President of C. Pharr & Company, answers questions on social media in the B2B space, being a social chameleon, and seeing the world through a pilot's eyes.
Q: If I could pass advice onto the newest generation of communicators, I would say...
A: Take a business class. It can be a challenge to gain the trust of the CEO or COO. If you want to serve as a trusted business advisor and offer sound counsel, you need to first learn and understand how the C-suite thinks. Ultimately, this will help you understand the bottom line in business.
Q: Three things I expect in my colleagues are...
A: Proactive thinkers, life-long learners and enthusiasm in everything they do!
January 5, 2015 CityBizList
Leah Ekmark Williams Named VP of C. Pharr & Company
C. Pharr & Company, a Dallas-based public relations and marketing communications firm, recently named Leah Ekmark Williams, APR as vice president. Williams has been a part of the agency for 10 years and has played an integral role in developing and implementing media relations and marketing communications strategies for the agency’s business-to-business and business-to-consumer client base. Her work at C. Pharr includes business development, account and project management, marketing communications and ongoing strategic development of media opportunities including new product launches, contact with national-level media interviews, community relations and crisis communications.
November 9, 2014 Dallas Morning News
The Five: Social media tips for business-to-business companies
Social media messaging is not the same for all audiences. Public relations and marketing expert Leah Ekmark Williams offers tips on how small businesses should use social media when the target audience is other businesses. Williams is vice president for C. Pharr & Co., a Dallas PR and marketing communications firm. She is also president of the Dallas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America this year.
Avoid the social media platform du jour. Evaluate which social media application fits your business model and where your audience is hanging out online. You will be disappointed with the return on investment if you take a fragmented approach, trying every new platform that pops up. LinkedIn is a great starting point for B2B.
October 13, 2014 Dallas Regional Chamber Blog
Dallas Regional Chamber Profile - Member Monday with C. Pharr & Company
The Dallas Regional Chamber’s SVP of Member Services recently spent some time with C. Pharr & Company’s President, Cynthia Pharr Lee to find out more about our agency. Here is an excerpt from her interview:
Cynthia, how would you describe the work you do at C. Pharr & Company?
C. Pharr & Company is an established and well-known PR and marketing communications firm with a reputation for delivering great results while treating clients, colleagues, and community with integrity. We take a strategic approach to media relations, social media, and marketing, serving clients with professional teams led by savvy, seasoned, marketing communications professionals. Our clients span many industries, including commercial real estate, healthcare, and professional business services.
October 6, 2014 Insigniam Quarterly
Is Your Board the Master Chef Behind Transformation?
Your board of directors can facilitate and advance transformational change, or hinder it. Just like a well-meaning chef who’s heavy handed with the salt shaker, sometimes an attempt to guide change actually results in bitter failure. So how do you ensure your attempts will result in success?
It begins with avoiding common pitfalls. According to Gallup’s Business Journal, more than 70 percent of change initiatives fail. From resistance to change and dependence on legacy systems to a lack of executive consensus and unrealistic expectations, all are regularly cited as hallmarks of failure.
If there was a secret recipe to board involvement, it would be the oft-repeated “nose in, fingers out” philosophy. Using the recipe analogy, Cynthia Pharr Lee says, “The board would be involved in selecting the menu and approving the recipe, but certainly not measuring out the ingredients.”
September 2, 2014 Lakewood BubbeLife
C. Pharr & Company Hosts Career Camp At Girls Inc. Of Dallas
This summer, C. Pharr & Company, a Dallas-based public relations and marketing communications firm, volunteered to host a career camp at Girls Incorporated (Inc.) of Metropolitan Dallas, an organization in Dallas which works to ensure at-risk girls and young women receive the education and encouragement needed to reach their full potential.
The four-week summer career camp consisted of two C. Pharr “teachers” overseeing a class of 16-20 students, ages 12 to 15 years old, teaching career training tips to help them take the first steps toward their future career path.
July 2, 2014 Dallas Business Journal
Texas Women Ventures invests $6M in North Texas businesses
During the month of June, Dallas’ Texas Women Ventures invested a total of $6 million in two up-and-coming North Texas companies, spurring on the area’s business growth. TWV bankrolled $2.5 million to Entegra Technologies Inc., a Plano company specializing in design, engineering and manufacturing services for mobile computer technology. Entegra is developing the CrossFirePro, a tablet designed to withstand any environmental conditions and made especially for commercial users.
June 28, 2014 Dallas Morning News
Texas Women Ventures putting its $16 million fund to work
Having recently raised $16 million for its latest fund, Texas Women Ventures is wasting no time putting the capital to work. Dallas-based TWV Capital Management, which manages the Texas Women Ventures funds, announced Wednesday the closing of two new investments: $2.5 million for Plano-based entegra technologies, which makes commercial mobile tablets, and $3.5 million for Grand Prairie-based Signature Contracting Services, which provides construction and other infrastructure services. “We’re pleased with the deal flow that we’re seeing both from a size standpoint and quality standpoint,” said Whitney Johns Martin, managing director of TWV Capital.
In 2005, Martin co-founded Texas Women Ventures with Valerie Freeman, Cynthia Pharr Lee and Carol Nichols.
March 26, 2014 Baylor University PRSSA blog
What I Learned from Shadowing a PRSA President
The C. Pharr team recently hosted a student during the annual PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day, a mentoring day that enables students to shadow PRSA members in their agencies and corporations to experience a day-in-the-life of a PR pro. This year C. Pharr hosted a student from Baylor University located in neighboring Waco, Texas. Read our team's takeaways from the day on our blog. And, be sure to read what our Baylor intern from that day had to say about her experience at our agency. Here is an excerpt from her blog:
I got the opportunity to shadow Leah Ekmark Williams, the director of account services of C. Pharr & Company and president of the PRSA Dallas chapter. C. Pharr & Company is a PR agency in Dallas that mostly has business to business (B2B) clients.During my time at C. Pharr, I spoke to employees who had worked there for years as well as the newer members of the team. They all gave me tips on how to land an entry-level job right out of college."
March 7, 2014 Dallas Business Journal
PRSA Dallas' February monthly lunch featured Brad Burns, AT&T's vice president of global media relations. More than 70 people attended the lunch to hear Burns talk about the “It Can Wait” campaign, lessons learned and of course, his behind-the-scenes recap of what went into putting competitive differences aside to partner with AT&T’s industry competitors in order to spread this life-or-death message to consumers. The Dallas Business Journal's Public Eye section featured a photo from the lunch of Burns flanked by C. Pharr's Leah Ekmark Williams, 2014 PRSA Dallas President, and Linda Beheler, 2014 PRSA Dallas Programs Chair. Check out the March 7 issue to view the photo.
August 13, 2013 Dallas Morning News
Baby Boomers Planning Exit Strategies from their Businesses
Cynthia Pharr Lee is not ready to retire anytime soon.
But when the time is right, Pharr Lee has an exit plan in place to ensure her public relations business will be in the right hands. Pharr Lee identified a “young superstar” employee and put her on a partner track to take over Dallas-based C. Pharr & Co.
“This plan gives more flexibility and freedom,” said Pharr Lee, 64. “It lets me have the kind of business that we prefer to have.”
Exit planning has always been a vital part of running a small business. Careful planning can ensure business continuity as well as a level of financial security for exiting owners.
May 31, 2013 Dallas Business Journal
Outstanding Corporate Directors 2013
Cynthia Pharr Lee nominated fellow CEC Entertainment Board Member Lou Neeb for "Outstanding Corporate Director 2013." Cynthia celebrated Lou's honor along with their spouses at an event co-sponsored by Dallas Business Journal and National Association of Corporate Directors. An article in the Dallas Business Journal article outlines the winners and the night:
Cynthia Pharr Lee, a fellow CEC board member and president of C. Pharr & Co., said Neeb has been a great mentor. Neeb recruited Pharr Lee to the Spaghetti Warehouse board in the early 1990s when he was CEO.
Pharr Lee said Neeb is also a champion of bringing women and minorities to the board level, recruiting in his role as nominating committee chairman of the board at CEC and Denny’s. “He made sure to bring industry insight into whatever company he was at,” Pharr Lee said.
To read the rest of the article and/or watch the video, click here
October 25, 2012 D RealPoints
Park Party: A Photo Recap
It's official! The opening weekend of Kylde Warren Park in Dallas is finally here! To commemorate this momentous event, D Magazine and The Real Estate Council hosted an event to honor and recognize the world-class teams who were instrumental in helping making Dallas’ dream a reality – to have a true urban park that serves as a central gathering space for Dallas and its visitors. C. Pharr & Company's, Leah Ekmark Williams, was attendance with client, McCarthy Building Cos., to commemorate McCarthy's work on the project and to celebrate the other construction, architecture and engineering teams involved. A true Dallas Arts District Builder, McCarthy recently completed the Dallas City Performance Hall as well as the award-winning AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. Read below for more info. about last week's event and to view photos of some of the attendees:
Last week, The Real Estate Council held a special event to recognize key players in getting Klyde Warren Park off the ground. Held at D Magazine’s World Headquarters, the event featured views of the park, scrumptious food from Stephan Pyles, special “Park” cocktails, and a sneak peek of D’s special Park issue.
11, 2012 Dallas Morning News Neighbors Go
Dallas PR Firm, C. Pharr & Company, Celebrates Growth And New Office
With Open House
Following a period of sustained growth, Dallas public relations agency, C. Pharr & Company, opened a second office located at 2501 Oak Lawn Ave. To commemorate the launch of its new office, the PR firm hosted an Open House to show its appreciation for the friends, family and loyal clients that continue to make C. Pharr's growth possible. As party favors, the C. Pharr team put together 20 "flood buckets" to benefit those in need in the Gulf area.
27, 2012 Dallas Morning News
The Five: Advice on how baby boomer business owners could plan an exit
A local expert provides five recommendations on a topic useful to small business owners. Dallas communications executive Cynthia Pharr Lee talked to staff writer Hanah Cho about five ways baby boomer business owners could plan a successful exit.
Cynthia Pharr Lee is president of C. Pharr & Co., a public relations, social media and marketing firm. In the past 20 years, she has helped more than 200 small- to middle-market businesses with growth strategies. She is also a co-founder of Texas Women Ventures and board member of two publicly held companies.
September 5, 2012 D Healthcare Daily
New Healthcare Publication in Town
The C. Pharr & Co. team has been out and about lately, meeting with reporters, editors, bloggers and influencers. We're always on the hunt for new media outlets and we recently connected with a new crop of healthcare bloggers and industry experts after attending a launch party to welcome the team from D Magazine's new blog, D Healthcare Daily. Check out this news and photos from the event:
D Magazine Partners celebrated the launch of its healthcare business news site in the company of its advisory council, contributing editors, partner organization officials, and top executives in the healthcare community. Among those attending were Baylor’s Joel Allison, Robert Earley of JPS, Doug Hawthorne of Texas Health Resources, Steve Love of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, and Methodist’s Stephen Mansfield.
The private reception included a presentation by D Healthcare Daily editor Steve Jacob, who said the news site is a platform for people in the business of healthcare—an industry that adds $52 billion to the North Texas economy each year and supports more than 600,000 regional jobs.
September 2, 2012 Dallas Morning News
Gender lens investing’ in women’s business ventures makes
sense for everyone
"While funding for women-owned businesses has improved, more work needs to be done, said Lenore Sullivan, co-chairwoman of Texas Women Ventures.The Dallas-based family of investment funds is dedicated to investing in women-led businesses in Texas and across the Greater Southwest.
“Despite women creating more than half of the new businesses in the United States, they get less than 5 percent of the available pool of private equity and other capital that’s being formed for investment in the United States,” Sullivan said.
February 24, 2012 SmartBlog on Social Media
Social Media Metrics: Stop trying to reinvent the wheel
Dallas-based C. Pharr and Co., a boutique agency specializing in public relations, marketing and social media, attended Explore Dallas 2012 to learn more about strategic approaches to digital strategies. Read our recap of the event below that was featured in the SmartBlog on Social Media.
Social media strategists and community managers might be making their jobs harder for themselves when it comes to finding return on investment for their social media efforts, according to Nichole Kelly, CEO of Full Frontal ROI Consulting. During her “No Fluff Social Media Measurement” session at Explore Dallas, she explained that defining ROI for social media should utilize traditional metrics, rather than attempting to create special measurements exclusive to social media.
At a time when social media is a fixture in most business strategies but big budgets for it may not be, the bottom-line impacts of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more have to be clearly articulated for executives, business owners and clients. Advising social media experts to cut the “fluff,” Kelly recommends adopting traditional metrics already understood by the C-suite.
“I can tell you the value of a Facebook fan: zero freaking dollars,” she said. “If it doesn’t correlate to the bottom line, it doesn’t matter.” The value of a relationship, whether social or not, can be measured by aligning it with business goals that already assess the health of a company. The benefits of social media can’t be evaluated in a silo; their success is based on the impacts in other areas of the business.
By estimating the value of social media through its supportive functions in key sales areas like lead generation, brand awareness and client relations, social media managers should quantify its impacts to sales, revenue and cost to the company. By drawing on data extracted from social media networks, Facebook follower count, Twitter retweets or blog comments can be translated into their effects on traditional sales goals such as cost per impression, cost per site visitor or increases to e-mail subscribers.
Kelly provided five quick tips to building a social media strategy that enables numerical metrics and establishes a clear relationship to measurable results:
- Set up Google Analytics to see the search impacts of social media activity and benchmark successes.
- Consider purchasing a Hootsuite account (or a similar dashboard) to view link or campaign-specific results, in addition to increasing efficiency with content fulfillment.
- Measure success by looking at the hard numbers. Look for sales goals that can be impacted by social media leads and decide how to quantify its impacts. Consistently report these to executives to ensure the direct benefits of social media are understood.
- Optimize content based on the results you gather. Continue to adapt the type, frequency and method of social media engagement to ensure actionable results from an audience.
- Work smarter, not harder. Tweak reporting methods to perfect account management, and keep end-goals in mind when strategically planning. One more rule to substantiating the value of social media to executives: Avoid committing another disservice against your team by over-calculating social media-related expenses. Don’t add personnel costs to social media expenditures unless you’re doing so in other departments. It’s important to examine results-versus-cost on a fair playing field when comparing social media to other outreach efforts such as public relations or advertising.
To view Kelly’s presentation, visit http://ow.ly/98yYh. Explore Dallas was the first event of 2012 in a series of one-day, intensive seminars designed by Social Media Explorer to help professionals understand a deeper, more strategic approach to digital and social media marketing for their businesses.
August 16th, 2011 Real Estate Bisnow
This and That
A Bisnow buddy snapped Caroline Williams, Cheryl Hayes, Leah Garner, Trevor Heaney, Bethany Peters, Jim Huang, and Stuart Williams at a recent gathering of The Melrose Society. The group was formed earlier this year to support Big Brothers Big Sisters program and raise awareness that children with a Big Brother or Big Sister in their lives are 52% less likely to skip school, 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, and 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, says C. Pharr & Associates’ Leah Ekmark, who tells us the group is still recruiting members.
June 17, 2011 Dallas Business Journal
Boutique PR firms growing with industry
Andrea Kavanagh runs a small public relations agency with two interns, one employee and her mom as chief financial officer. She wants to grow her business, but doesn’t have grand plans to take over the PR industry.
“I do want to stay small,” said Kavanagh, who started Andrea Kavanagh & Associates in early May. “I enjoy being the face of my company.”
Kavanagh left her post as director of strategic marketing and public relations at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University to pursue her dream of opening a boutique PR firm.
She isn’t the only one taking the leap. According to the Public Relations Society of America, the number of its members who consider themselves independent practitioners or agency owners has increased almost 3 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.
Arthur Yaan, spokesperson for PRSA said the organization expects the trend to continue as professionals turn to self-employment as a viable career option.
Cynthia Pharr, owner of Dallas-based C. Pharr & Company Ink, and a veteran in the PR industry, said she believes there is a larger number of boutique firms or firms with around nine employees or fewer.
“It’s not a matter of not being able to be big,” Pharr said. “It’s preferring not to be.” IBISWorld Inc., a market research company, reported that of the 7,219 firms in 2010, 6,294 consisted of nine employees or fewer. The growth in deliberately smaller firms comes as the PR industry is growing.
June 10, 2011 Dallas Business Journal
The Texas Wall Street Women held its second annual philanthropy event, benefitting The Foundation for the Education of Young Women. Women in the field of finance spoke on the investment outlook and its impact during a panel. Pictured at the event, from left, are Cheryl Alston, executive director of Employees Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas; Linda Wertheimer Hart, vice-chairwoman, president and CEO of Hart Group Inc.; Cynthia Pharr Lee, board member of Behringer Harvard Op REIT II; Lucy Billingsley, partner at Billingsley Co.; Carol Nichols, vice president of market development of Virtual CFO; Caroline Cooley, partner and chief investment officer of Crestline.
May 31, 2011 Real Estate Bisnow
Wall Street Women
A Bisnow buddy snapped Billingsley Co partner Lucy Billingsley (like we have to tell you who she is) hamming it up between C. Pharr & Co owner Cynthia Pharr Lee and Behringer Harvard Op REIT II board member Christine Breck, also founder of the Texas Wall Street Women and Source Trading principal. The occasion was the second annual Texas Wall Street Women statewide charity event, benefiting the Foundation for the Education of Young Women, on May 5 in Dallas.
April 19, 2011 - reprinted with permission of the Dallas
Dallas-area venture capital fund for women-led businesses to
raise $20 million
"Texas Women Ventures Fund is preparing to raise $20 million — its biggest fund yet — to triple its size. The Richardson-based private equity fund will unveil the plan Wednesday at its annual investor meeting. Dallas businessman Ray Hunt’s company has already made the first commitment of $2 million as lead investor.
Texas Women Ventures also reached another milestone: Last month, its second of five investments repaid the fund early.
“We’ve tested the model, and it works,” said managing member Whitney Johns Martin. She co-founded the group with Valerie Freeman, Cynthia Pharr Lee and Carol Nichols.
Texas Women Ventures invests in women-led businesses by making mezzanine loans, which are subordinate to senior debt and act like equity without the company founders giving up control. It focuses on Old Economy companies that generate profit and annual revenue of $7 million to $70 million. It seeks repayment in three years to five years.
Texas Women Ventures needs more capital to invest in more companies."
26, 2011 - Reprinted with permission of the Dallas
Cheryl Hall: Business buzzwords that should be banished
If I could ban one phrase from our lexicon, it would be not a problem. That rote response — usually from someone in the service business to a simple request — raises my hackles because it implies that something like a glass of water with my meal is beyond normal expectations.
We all have little words or phrases that annoy the heck out of us, even ones that might have seemed imaginative the first two dozen times we heard them.
Some are downright silly when you consider the alternative: What is the opposite of proactive? What is a meeting without minds? What is a killer app trying to kill? And if we have a new normal, what happened to the old one?
Attorney Wilson Chu, partner of K&L Gates, recently had lunch with a budding executive who was so eager to impress with his business speak that Chu couldn’t contain himself. “I congratulated him for being buzzword-compliant.”
I asked businesspeople around town: “If you were word czar, what word or phrase would you annihilate from the business world? What about it particularly annoys you — besides its being overused?”
The quick-triggered replies indicate that I struck a nerve.
“I literally hope this helps because I’m just trying to think outside the box,” quipped Jeff Crilley, principal of Real News PR. “After all, it’s not rocket science, but who knows? Maybe I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid for so long that I can’t come up with an answer that’s not a cliche.”
Out of the box topped the trash heap.
Another least favorite: at the end of the day.
“If your sense is that something is the case at the end of the day, why is it not so at the beginning?” said Mark Annick of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. “Do things somehow change that much?”
“At the end of my day,” said Laura Estrada, president of Garza Business Services Inc., “I’d like to clobber anyone that uses it!” She also wonders when people say to be totally honest with you, “does this mean you’re not honest with me all the time?”
A word that bugs Cynthia Pharr Lee, principal of C. Pharr & Co., is one I used. “Czars were not great fixers or leaders or visionaries in Russia,” she said. “They were abusive, wealth-mongering, power-hungry aristocrats. I’m not sure why Americans have adapted the word to be used as something of a compliment.”
But in my defense, it would probably take the unilateral act of a despot to rid our world of these perturbing phrases.
December 8, 2010 - Reprinted with the permission of the Dallas Morning News
Nationally and in Texas, women-owned firms are on the upswing
Women's business ownership made big strides in Texas and nationally from 2002 to 2007, growing at four times the rate of men's ownership, according to details released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
However, men still controlled the bulk of businesses, payroll and sales.
Women owned 7.8 million businesses nationwide in 2007, up 20 percent from 2002, the last time the Census Bureau conducted its Survey of Business Owners. They accounted for 29 percent of private firms.
Texas ranked second nationally with 610,162 women-owned businesses, up 30 percent from 2002. They accounted for 28 percent of private businesses statewide. California had the most women-owned firms at 1 million.
Cynthia Pharr Lee, co-founder of Texas Women Ventures Fund, a Richardson firm that invests in women-led businesses, said the growth isn't surprising.
"We see more women entering fields they haven't been in before, becoming bolder about stepping out on their own," she said. "We definitely see more women-owned businesses in manufacturing, construction and food manufacturing."
Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg said women business owners in 2007 "had a major impact on the nation's economy," employing 7.6 million people.
But women-owned businesses lagged in sales generation: Producing $1.2 trillion, or 4 percent, compared with $8.5 trillion, or 28 percent, for businesses owned by men.
Most U.S. firms owned by women were small: Two percent had revenue topping $1 million and less than 1 percent employed 100 or more people. In Texas, businesses owned by women generated $96.3 billion in sales.
Dallas was No. 6 among U.S. cities, with 33,390 women-owned firms. Houston was No. 4 (63,435), San Antonio was No. 8 (30,642) and Austin was No. 13 (22,701). New York was first with 305,145. Dallas-Fort Worth ranked as the seventh metropolitan area in women-owned firms, with 169,863. Men in Texas owned nearly 1.1 million firms, or 50 percent. Nationally, men owned 51 percent of private businesses. About 390,000 businesses in Texas and 4.6 million nationally were equally owned by men and women.
23, 2009 - Real Estate Bisnow
A Merry Christmas
"We always thought real estate types hibernated in winter, dreaming of sugar plums and dogleg lefts. Our mistake. More than 80 CRE professionals from AIA Dallas, BOMA Dallas, CREW Dallas, NAIOP, NTCAR, TEXO and ULI North Texas recently helped The Salvation Army at the young professionals “Together We Give” event.
Here’s Pillar Commercial’s Nick Clark and C. Pharr’s Leah Ekmark at the Salvation Army Christmas and Disaster Center in Dallas. Leah, TREC Young Guns publicity chairwoman, says volunteering here was great for giving back and networking. Her day job has her promoting client McCarthy Building Cos in work on the new Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and the HQ for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.
Leah says TREC wants this project to serve as the catalyst for an annual event centered around volunteerism. The idea is to unite the young real estate community, while creating a better Dallas. This project lays the groundwork for connecting our groups more in 2010, she adds."
October 2, 2009 - Reprinted with the permission of the Dallas Morning News
Texas Women Ventures Fund helps female entrepreneurs
DeSoto entrepreneur Gail Warrior-Lawrence is a poster child for investment in businesses led by women.
In 2007, the Texas Women Ventures Fund lent $1 million to the Warrior Group, the construction firm she co-founded and leads. She repaid the money in March and now is becoming an investor to help other female entrepreneurs.
"I'm always about paying it forward, if I can turn it around and do the same thing for someone else," Warrior-Lawrence said. She is investing an undisclosed amount in a $5 million sidecar fund being raised for use along with the Texas Women Ventures Fund's initial $5 million.
"It's on point with our mission to grow women-led businesses, to grow women business investors and to prove to the marketplace you can make money investing in women," said Cynthia Pharr Lee, co-founder of the Richardson-based investment firm along with Whitney Johns Martin, Valerie Freeman and Carol Nichols.
"We've completed the cycle with Gail and the Warrior group."
So far, $4 million has been committed to the sidecar fund, which requires investors to put up at least $60,000, said Johns Martin, managing member of the Texas Women Ventures Fund. She hopes to finish fundraising by November.
The Boone Family Foundation is the lead investor, with a $1 million commitment, said Jim Adams, vice president of the foundation started by Container Store founder and chairman emeritus Garrett Boone and his wife, Cecilia.
"We think they're good at what they do," Adams said of the Texas Women Ventures Fund. "And it's directly related to one of our three mission focuses – to advance gender equity for women and girls."
Johns Martin said the new capital will allow the fund to make more investments and write larger checks.
"It's designed to bring in some new investors and additional talent," she said. "The key to our fund is that we provide more than money – we provide advisory services and connections, not just to people but to expertise."
The group's assistance helped the Warrior Group hire key people to grow, Warrior-Lawrence said. She projects that the company will post $135 million in revenue this year, up from $42 million in 2007. It has 62 employees, vs. 25 in 2007.
"Our experience with the Texas Women Ventures Fund was great – from the due diligence to getting the loan done," Warrior-Lawrence said. "Now we're in a position to grow even more."
The Texas Women Ventures Fund makes loans to be repaid within three to five years. Venture capital firms, by contrast, typically invest in exchange for common stock or convertible preferred stock in a company.
Since 2006, the fund has invested about $4 million in four companies: Warrior Group; Karlee Inc., a Garland firm that provides custom manufacturing services such as sheet metal fabrication and cabling; Joy Foods Inc., a Dallas pizza maker; and Joy Products Corp., a related food service company.
A fifth, $2 million investment (half will come from the sidecar fund) is in the works, Johns Martin said.
New investors, mostly women, include Valerie Davisson, chief "peopleworks" officer at Brinker International Inc.; Wendy Lopez, vice president of URS Corp. and chairwoman of the National Association of Women Business Owners; and Joan Voeller, a partner at Hartman, Leito & Bolt. The Texas Women Ventures Fund has been able to raise money in a recession because it keeps its projects small and seeks investors who believe in its mission, Johns Martin said.
Performance helps, too.
"Our return has outperformed every other asset class investment over the past three years," Johns Martin said. The fund aims for a rate of return per investment in the high 20 percent to high 30 percent range, she said.
Next year, the firm plans to raise another fund, she said.
9, 2009 - Reprinted with the permission of the Dallas Morning
By buying out firm, PR exec avoided starting agency from scratch
Starting up a business in a down economy doesn't spell doom or suggest you're crazy. Cynthia Pharr Lee, president and owner of a Dallas-area public relations company, took the risk in similar times, in the 1980s, and succeeded. Today her business is thriving, and she's also co-founded the Texas Women Ventures Fund. Here's her story:
BUSINESS: C. Pharr & Co., Addison
DESCRIPTION: Business-oriented PR and marketing communications firm, handling marketing plans, reputation management, media strategy, brand management and strategic communications
PROBLEM FACED: After working in the public relations field for others, I was itching to start my own agency just as the mid-1980s downturn squashed commercial real estate and several other sectors I had specialized in.
I was determined not to poach clients from my employer. I wondered whether I should wait for a stronger economy before launching.
WHAT WAS AT STAKE: If I failed going out on my own, I would have lost an income stream and benefits my family counted on and most of my savings. I also risked giving up a hard-won position as a leader in the PR business and having to start at the bottom, scrapping to win small clients.
SOLUTION: Rather than starting a business from scratch, I networked with several outstanding senior PR agency owners just to see if anyone might be looking for a leadership transition. Especially, were they interested in a younger partner to buy them out?
After several unproductive discussions, I finally learned that one of my most respected mentors was in exactly that situation. We negotiated a buyout that gave her the financial and management exit she wanted in several years and provided me an outstanding platform from which to grow C. Pharr & Co.
I was excited about doing my own thing, and my team and I tripled the business in the first year. Fast growth continued for several years. So I was able to complete the purchase and restore my savings from the agency's earnings.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: By starting with a few accounts, people, offices and computers, I was able to launch my agency from an established business rather than from scratch. That made us more competitive and ready to grow rapidly. Especially in the challenging environment, it was also a huge relief to be able to achieve financial stability fairly quickly.
To contact Cynthia Pharr Lee, call 972-931-7576, e-mail Cynthia@pharrpr.com or visit www.pharrpr.com.