Photo by Ted Escobar
Members who attended Wednesday’s special Lower Valley Business Connections in Toppenish, from left, were Walter Rauda of Yakima, Nora Guzman-Pulido of Yakima, Leticia Sandoval of Yakima, Louis Garcia of Grandview, Tim Morris of Yakima and Maria Salas of Yakima.
As of Monday, September 24, 2018
Lower Valley Business Connections was formed in January, and it’s catching on — slowly — probably because of the nature of its operation.
The invitations to attend are done directly by phone and other means. But they are not done by website or paper flyer the invitees may or may not see. And handshakes abound when members meet.
“What I really like about it is that there are no monthly or yearly dues,” said Nora Guzman-Pulido, assistant manager of Great Floors in Yakima, at a meeting in Toppenish Wednesday. “I can come and go as I please.”
Right now, Guzman-Pulido is going, excitedly. So is everybody else.
“Everyone is excited about being here because we are helping each other be better business people,” One-Stop Auto Repair owner Louis Garcia of Grandview said.
“Lou educates you,” Salas said. “He doesn’t just do the job. You can see he’s passionate about his work.”
Business Connections was conceptualized by Tim Morris, owner of Cemetery Tim, a rising headstone maker in Toppenish. There is no tax exemption, and there are no by-laws. They may come if the membership wants to go that way. So far, the group has not collected or spent money.
But the members have elected a board and officers. Walter Rauda of Yakima, Cathleen Wyberg of Yakima, Jeanette Rhea of Tri-Cities, and Bryce Carpenter of Grandview are on the board of directors. The secretary is Maria Salas of Yakima, and Morris is the president.
Business Connections meets every other Thursday at 9 a.m. There are speakers at every other meeting. This election season the group has heard from Yakima County Sheriff candidates Nolan Wentz and Robert Udell and Yakima County Commissioner candidate Norm Childress.
Wednesday’s special meeting was held in Toppenish, but the group is looking for Sunnyside locations to be more central between Yakima and Tri-Cities. Member are considering breakfast meetings.
Leticia Sandoval, owner of the insurance brokerage Select Insurance, said the reason she returns is the acceptance and camaraderie she feels.
“I see everyone as a friend. Everyone makes it really fun,” she said.
Business Connections has a community service component. Members fed more than 100 homeless in Wapato and Toppenish last weekend.
But the main thrust of Business Connections is improvement of business women, business men and businesses in general.
“Too many people have gotten away from good business ethics,” Guzman-Pulido said. “We have to emphasize honesty, integrity and trust.”
Sandoval added, “There is potential for added referrals every time I attend a meeting.”
Guzman-Pulido recently lost her regular mechanic. Now she takes her car to One-Stop Auto Repair.