New paintball business hits the spot for fun

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					4 | LMT BUSINESS JOURNAL                                                                                                                                                          MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2005                 MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2005                                                                                                                                                                   LMT BUSINESS JOURNAL | 13

      Texas House honors Ramirez                                                                                                  City manager explains plans                                                                                                                                                                      NEW BEGINNINGS

                    Bank executive starts $1 million TAMIU endowment                                                                  for Laredo’s growth                                                                                                                                                                                            New paintball business
                                             Zapata, Ramirez oversees IBC’s          and contributed $25,000 on behalf                       By MIKE HALL

   ZAPATA — International Bank
of Commerce-Zapata President and
CEO Renato Ramirez has been
                                             branch operations and community
                                             outreach in Zapata, Hebbronville,
                                             Roma and Rio Grande and will
                                             supervise the bank_s upcoming
                                                                                     of his family partnership, R & P
                                                                                     Ramirez LTD.
                                                                                          He served as the president of
                                                                                     the Zapata County Independent
                                                                                                                                         LAREDO MORNING TIMES
                                                                                                                                    Laredo City Manager Larry
                                                                                                                                 Dovalina said keeping ahead of
                                                                                                                                 the growth of the city is like run-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      hits the spot for fun
honored by the Texas House of                expansion into the Brush Country        School District Board of Trustees           ning in front of a growing snow-                                                                                                                                                                                               By MAYRA FLORES
Representatives for his recent fund-         communities of Alice, Freer,            from 1993 until 1997 and remains            ball as he runs down a hill.                                                                                                                                                                                                 LAREDO MORNING TIMES
ing of a million-dollar endowment            Kingsville, Beeville and Falfurrias.    involved with the group today.                 Dovalina was the main speak-
which will be used for scholarships             In addition to building branches         In addition to efforts benefiting       er at two recent business meet-                                                                                                                                                                                    For some people, there is nothing more
                  at Texas A&M               in the Brush Country area, IBC,         education, Ramirez also supports            ings — at the board of directors of                                                                                                                                                                            exciting than sneaking up on someone and
                  International              under Ramirez’s leadership, will        the Zapata Boys and Girls Club; the         the Laredo Development Foun-                                                                                                                                                                                   mercilessly gunning them down – with paint
                  University.                pursue opportunities to be an           Sacred Heart and Casa Hogar “La             dation last Wednesday and the                                                                                                                                                                                  that is.
                        State Rep.           active community partner.               Nueva Esperanza” orphanages in              Laredo Manufacturers Associa-                                                                                                                                                                                      The extreme sport of paintball, touted as
                  Ryan Guillen, (D-             A proponent of educational           Ciudad Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico;            tion’s monthly meeting last                    Photo by Mike Hall | Laredo Morning Times                                                                                                                       the newest stress reliever, has helped
                  Rio Grande City)           advancement, Ramirez’s commit-          the Capitol Tejano Monument                 Thursday.                               Laredo City Manager Larry Dovalina                                                                                           Courtesy photo | 21st Century Insurance   Laredoan Ricky Moreno open a business and
                  who represents             ment to increasing educational          effort; the National Hispanic                  City officials in the manage-        speaks to the board of directors of the            A truck covered with people’s faces in the main focus of a billboard advertisement for 21st Century Auto            provide an entertaining sport for those who
                  Duval,      Starr,         opportunities for students is wide-     Institute; the United Way of Laredo;        ment have developed strategies          Laredo Development Foundation                      Insurance. They company has been been approved to operate in the state offering more choices for Texans.            like to shoot each other for fun.
                  Webb and Zapata            spread.                                 the Zapata County Fair Association          and plans for the next 10 years to      Wednesday afternoon.                                                                                                                                                       Wicked Paintball sits on 10 acres on Well
   RAMIREZ        counties, present-            Since 1966, Ramirez has spon-                                                    anticipate the needs for every-                                                                                                                                                                                Lane near the intersection of Los Botines
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New player for auto
                                                                                     and Zapata CrimeStoppers, Inc.
                  ed Ramirez on the          sored an annual scholarship pro-            “Renato truly integrates IBC’s          thing — from larger parks and           from $75 to $150 in the same peri-                                                                                                                                     Road off U.S. Highway 83 North. The $8,000
floor     of    the     House     of         gram that offers $3,000 scholar-        corporate motto ‘We Do More’ into           well-placed emergency fire and          od.                                                                                                                                                                    project features two fields for paintball com-
Representatives Wednesday and                ships to graduates of Zapata High       every aspect of his life,” said Dennis      police locations to extending               Dovalina said due to better                                                                                                                                        petitions.
drafted the resolution honoring the
South Texas banker.
   “I am proud to have been able to
                                                When the bankrupt Benavides
                                             School District was in need of
                                                                                     E. Nixon, chairman of International
                                                                                     Bancshares Corporation, parent to
                                                                                     IBC Bank. “For more than 25 years,
                                                                                                                                 water and sewage pipes to devel-
                                                                                                                                 oping subdivions and keeping up
                                                                                                                                 with the infrastructure system so
                                                                                                                                                                         planning, tax increases have been
                                                                                                                                                                         minimal while providing for
                                                                                                                                                                         more city projects that affect the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 insurance comes to Texas                                                                                           “It’s a sport for just about anyone,”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Moreno said. “I just love the game - there’s a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                high level of excitement and adrenaline rush
play an active role in ensuring that         financial assistance after several      Renato has maintained an extraor-           traffic can flow better are on tap,     quality of life for Laredoans. A                                    By MAYRA FLORES                     Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Department                       everytime.”
Renato received this state-wide              financial institutions had denied       dinary level of commitment to his           too.                                    large investment has been in                                     LAREDO MORNING TIMES                   of Public Safety to conduct child safety seat                      The 33-year-old entrepreneur, who also
recognition for his lifetime dedica-         loan requests, Ramirez worked           hometown of Zapata as well as to               To date, he said a total of $71      upgrading the training of city                                                                          inspection and installation fairs in 2005.                     operates a trucking company in Laredo,
tion to the advancement of educa-            with the school district to construct   its neighboring cities.”                    million is being spent on all city      workers and leadership capabili-                      There’s a new player in the Texas auto                — 21st and Gov. Perry will also distribute                 says he began developing his business idea
tion,” said Rep. Ryan Guillen. “His          a loan that would keep the district         International        Bank       of      projects.                               ties of managers.                                  insurance industry.                                  bilingual guides on proper car seat usage.                     while practicing paintball shooting as a
commitment to impacting South                functioning while allowing it to        Commerce (IBC)-Zapata is a mem-                To fund these and other city             Dovalina said the city is work-                    21st Century Insurance has now been                  — Publishing “The Consumer Guide to                        sport.
Texas communities through volun-             regain its financial stability.         ber of International Bancshares             projects, the city tax rate has         ing with a citizens group to revi-                 approved to operate in the state offering            Buying Texas Auto Insurance,” which com-                           The popularity of the sport and consider-
teerism and philanthropy serves as              Last year, Ramirez was appoint-      Corporation (NASDAQ: IBOC), a               grown over the last five years,         talize the San Bernardo area from                  more choices for Laredoans.                          pares policy contracts, service features and                   ing that most paintball facilities in town do
an example to us all. He embodies            ed by the Laredo Community              $9.4 billion multi-bank financial           however it decreased slightly           Scott Street to Calton Road to cre-                   Customers have the option to purchase             prices of leading companies in the state.                      not have a large field prompted him to open
and encourages the spirit of giving          College Board of Trustees to be one     holding company headquartered in            from last year to 6.17 percent.         ate a better shopping area for                     insurance, service their policy or report a              At year-end 2003, 21st Century                             his own business.
and for that reason, his actions are         of the nine founding directors of       Laredo with more than 160 facili-           The increase over this time peri-       Mexican imports. He said better                    claim over the phone with their licensed             Insurance Group had $1,219 million in net                          “I wanted to do something different from                           Photo by Mike Hall | Laredo Morning Times
vital to the continued growth and            the LCC District Education              ties and 250 ATMs serving more              od has been only increased by 13        sidewalks and other improve-                       insurance professionals or through the               premiums written, $1,246 million in rev-                       what the rest are doing,” said Moreno,
success of South Texas.”                     Foundation. Ramirez secured a           than 70 communities in Texas and            percent, compared to school taxes       ments are being planned by the                     company’s full-service Web site at         enues, and assets totaling $1.7 billion.                           Today, the year-plus business serves both      Ricky Moreno, owner, stands in one of his paintball
   As President and CEO of IBC-              $75,000 donation for the foundation     Oklahoma.                                   which have gone up 100 percent          city for that area.                                   “We’re celebrating not just our company’s                                                                        individual players and group outings from          fields at Wicked Paintball, off Well Lane near Los
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            expansion into Texas but the expansion of our                                                                       schools or companies interested in simulat-        Botines Road. Moreno, 33, offers paintball competi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            family, as we’ve added 190 people to help offer                           History                                   ed battlefield combat.                             tions in his 10-acre outdoor facility.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            consumers our superior policy contract,                 21st Century Insurance’s success story                          The field is equipped with a high chain-
                                                                                            BORDER BRIEFS                                                                                                                   highly competitive pricing and 24/7 policy           began with its founder Louis W. Foster.                        link fence on the outside and a nylon mesh-        ond and multiple bruises Moreno has show
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            services,” Bruce Marlow, Chief Executive             After 20 years as an independent agent in                      like material inside to capture any stray          that he had been “hit.”
     Aerial feats excite thousands at airport during                   diving out of planes with U.S. and Texas flags. . (Feb. 14, 1A)    summer, let alone February."                                                      Officer of 21st stated in a press release.           the insurance business, Foster founded the                     paintballs.                                            “Anyone who has played paintball knows
                                                                                                                                              But it took a few more years before he found his way here.                       21st Century Insurance began selling              original company in 1958 in Los Angeles as                         Air-filled bunkers, known also as “tow-        getting shot can leave a bruise, but the thrill
            Stars and Stripes Spectacular                                        “Heatwave”Berler celebrates 25 years                        After attending college at Florida State University, Berler                    policies in Texas this January as a direct           an inter-insurance exchange and with one                       ers,” “doritos,” and “snakes,” sprinkle the        it provides, is well worth it,” Moreno said.
                                                                                                                                          started working for a small station in Minnesota.Then he dis-                     result of the recent enactment of reforms to         employee – a secretary.                                        fields, where shooters hunker down their               Moreno notesmany play for an entire day
                           BY ADRIANA ARCE                                             as weather man at KGNS                             covered there was an opening at KGNS. (Feb. 15, 3A)                               the state’s auto insurance market designed              The office grew rapidly and in 1966 the                     opponents in a quest to capture the oppo-          for about $45, depending on how much
                        LAREDO MORNING TIMES                                                                                                                                                                                to bring more choices for Texas consumers.           company moved to Century City to accom-                        nent’s flag. There are five players per team.      ammo, the paintballs that explode upon con-

   “Look at the plane!” countless children shouted at their                                     By ERICA CORDOVA
                                                                                                                                                            High school students twist , flip                                  “Pricing differences are important but
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            are just one factor to consider,” Jim Reeves,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 modate its expanding staff and volume .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The company celebrated a major mile-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Players use a compressed air gun that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                propels gel-cap paintballs filled with differ-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   tact, they use.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Wicked Paintball serves individual play-
parents Sunday, as they pointed upwards, towards an action-                                   LAREDO MORNING TIMES                                                 for science class                                        Assistant Vice President, and Texas Product          stone at the same time — achieving $1 mil-                     ent colors of water-soluble paint inside that      ers and group outings from companies,
packed sky.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Manager for the company said. “Only 21st             lion in premiums in a single year.                             make a colorful splash upon impact.                schools or anyone interested in the simulat-
   The excitement was part of the 2005 WBCA Stars and                      It’s not a surprise that a man who’s nicknamed “Heatwave”                                 By ADRIANA ARCE                                        specifies original equipment replacement                In 1996, the company expanded into                              Equipment needed to play includes a mask, a    ed battlefield combat.
Stripes Air Show Spectacular at the old Laredo International           loves Laredo.                                                                               LAREDO MORNING TIMES                                     parts for body repairs and will pay 100 per-         Arizona and two years later began operat-                      marker, and paintballs. The business has equip-        Moreno plans to finish a third paintball
Airport.                                                                   “It’s got one of the most unique climates in the country,”                                                                                       cent of your original purchase cost if your          ing in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.                         ment and protective gear to rent for the day.      field that is under construction and sched-
   Thousands toting umbrellas and sunglasses experienced               said Richard Berler, KGNS meteorologist. “In fact, we own the         Tuesday was a problem solving day for about 900 students                       new car or truck is totaled in the first year        21st Century Insurance has more than                               Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants are       uled to be completed in a couple of months,
war exhibits and great food highlighted by exhilarating per-           United States record for the month of February.”                   that twisted, flipped and went round and round at the WBCA                        of ownership.”                                       2,500 employees and occupies two 11-                           also recommended for optimum playing, he           he said.
formances of aerial acrobatics.                                            In 1998, Laredo logged a high of 103 degrees – the highest     Carnival fairgrounds.                                                                According to company officials, 21st’s            story headquarter buildings in Woodland                        added.                                                 For more information, call Moreno at
   With military fighter jets and other high-tech aircraft             temperature recorded anywhere in the nation for that month.           It was part of the Laredo Independent School Districts                         commitment to Texas includes:                        Hills.                                                             On a weekend, he said well over 100 peo-       Wicked Paintball at (956) 235-0066.
brought in from all over the nation, the airport grounds                   Monday, Berler, 51, celebrated 25 years at KGNS. He start-     third annual Physics Phun Day led by Gerardo Cruz, an                                 _ The opening of the Lewisville service             The company also operates 14 division                       ple play at his facility.                              (Mayra Flores can be reached at 728-2547
seemed equipped for a war.                                             ed at the station on Valentine’s Day in 1980.                      instructional coordinator of science.                                             center, the company’s first outside of               service offices, five vehicle inspection cen-                      The paintballs travel at 3,000 feet per sec-   or by e-mail at
   “We brought in A-10s, C-130s, helicopters and 121 military              Originally from Westport, Conn., “Heatwave” started keep-         “The kids are actually given the opportunity to test the                       California.                                          ters, and nine drive-in claim centers.For
men who are taking part in showing weapons like the 50-cal-            ing weather records in fourth grade.                               laws of physics and math by applying them to real world situ-                        – Underwriting policies through 21st              more information on the company call 1-
iber machine guns from World War II,” said Carlos Garza, air               "One day I was in the back (of the local weather bureau        ations,” Garza said. “And what better place than an amuse-                        Century Insurance Company of the                     800-211-SAVE (English) or 1-888-920-2121                             Have your new business featured in the “New Beginnings” section
show coordinator.                                                      office) and they had pamphlets with all of the climatalogical      ment park.”                                                                       Southwest, an insurance company in Texas             (Spanish) or visit the company’s Web site at
   Other performers who came to join in on the fun also flew           data from across the country, and then I came upon Texas,"            Accompanied by about 40 teachers, middle and high school                       and member of the 21st Century Insurance             www.21st com.                                                    New businesses or businesses that are changing/adding to their prodcut line or services
in private planes.The thrills began immediately as the show            Berler said. " I found that Laredo hit 100 degrees in February     students could be seen hopping into thrilling rides with a pen                    Group.                                                  (Mayra Flores can be reached at 728-                        may contact the Laredeo Morning Times Business Journal to get the firm featured in the
opened with the Star Spangled Banner and three paratroopers            of 1940. I hadn't ever seen 100 de-grees in the middle of the      and paper in hand. (Feb. 16, 1A)                                                     — Forming a historic parnership with              2547 or by e-mail at                      “New Beginnings” section of the journal. Call MIke at 956-728-2529 or Mayra at 956-728-2547.

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