Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. See how this philosophy has made four Conroe-area businessmen successful in their own recent business endeavors.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Chris Sadler opened his military-inspired Honor Café in downtown Conroe in July 2020 to leave a legacy for his family and community while also focusing on helping his customer base of retired military vets.
“I have an average of 31,000 sunrises in my lifetime,” Sadler said, “My time is valuable. I want to focus on honoring our veterans. That is my core mission.”
Just a couple of months after opening, Sadler noticed senior citizen vets would come in and always order coffee or water, but never food.
“I figured it out. It’s the end of the month, and they are out of money,” he said. So, he had the cooks prepare food, and he brought it to the table. “These guys are not going to call Meals on Wheels or ask for handouts.” Since opening, Sadler has donated more than $20,000 in food to senior vets.
Another concern resting on Sadler’s heart that he wants to bring awareness to is veteran suicides. Each day since the Afghan withdrawal, 22 to 50 veterans take their life.
“It’s out of control. No one gets forgotten, no one gets left behind,” he said.
Sadler also wants to be a good business neighbor by helping other owners in any way he can.
“I love all the new restaurants coming into Conroe, sharing with others, and helping each other out," says Sadler. "If I run out of something, I can call on another business owner to borrow product until mine comes in.”
San Cheng moved to Texas in 2009 from Michigan, searching for a fresh start. To put food on the table for his family, Cheng went from working in a Detroit nail salon to working in a Texas donut shop to save money to start his own automotive repair shop in Conroe.
Now he owns four businesses; Lake Conroe Automotive, Dragon Ball C Noodle Bar, Taste the Asian Food Truck, and his newest venture, Kofe Num Pang, (meaning coffee and bread in Cambodian), an Asian-fusion eatery.
He surveyed the community about his new coffee shop, asking what they want and what they need. “I want them to have a nice place with a cool vibe, packed with people smiling and enjoying food," he said.
Starting a business means building a legacy for his family and teaching his children to be their own boss. "I want to teach them as much as I can; about money, permitting, customer service, marketing, and how to be better,” he said.
Cheng believes in giving back to his community. He gives deep discounts to First Responders and to city and county employees for their service to the people.
After college, Keller worked for Chuy's Mexican restaurant who was told by his manager, “your heart isn't in this anymore, go chase your dreams”, which signaled a new beginning for Josh Keller, owner of Grasten Power Technologies.
He began working for Grasten selling generators and within 6 months, he took a risk by acquiring 50 percent of the company by taking on half of the company's debt. Three years later, he jumped on the opportunity to buy the rest of the company.
Hurricane Harvey happened in 2017, COVID in 2020, and the February Snow in 2021 put Grasten on the map for generator sales and service. His company has ranked in the top five Generac dealers in the country for five years. And now he is opening a second branch north of Dallas.
"What drives me is when people tell me that I can't do something," Keller said. "I was the first to go to college in my family and the first to start a business."
Keller loves making his customers happy, and it drives him forward. Besides attributing great customer service to his success, Keller cross-trains all his employees and works alongside his wife, Jessica.
"Working with her is great. This is her baby, too. No one cares like the owner cares," Keller said. "Having two owners' eyes on it gives the other relief."
Shaun Johnson, the owner of Turnkey Restoration and Roofing, was working on an offshore oil rig until a friend told him about an opportunity where he could be his own boss and double his money. He took the leap of faith three years ago and hasn't looked back.
Johnson said he focuses on providing the best customer service in his industry of restoration, roofing, and emergency disaster specialists, which includes helping his customers after they have experienced a devastating house fire or flood.
As a husband and father of two children, having a business that provides 24-hour service can really be a challenge, he said. "I am really blessed with an understanding wife who helps out more than I could ever ask for." Sometimes he takes his kids to the site to get honest feedback from them.
His advice for those wanting to start their own business is to make sure your partner knows what to expect. "You take work home with you because it's your 'baby.' Try to stay ahead of everything and everyone, and don't wait. Just jump off the deep end and figure it out. Surround yourself with people who have knowledge so they can help you be successful," Johnson said.
What these men have learned is giving from your heart will always come back to you and your family while continuing to be a blessing in the community that you live in.