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Men of Influence

Recognizing the Exceptional Leaders and Visionaries Shaping the Future of West Austin

Celebrating West Austin's Most Influential Leaders

In every industry, there are leaders and visionaries who push boundaries and shape the future. These men of influence inspire and impact the community around us. Some have taken a bold approach, challenging the status quo and leaving a lasting impact on their peers. Moreover, they have invested in the next generation, mentoring and guiding aspiring leaders to uphold values of integrity, passion, and excellence.

Their resilience and determination have earned them a place at the top of their respective fields, from arts and entertainment to healthcare, finance to real estate, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. It is with great admiration that we recognize Andrew Bennett, Dr. Steve Conroy, James Dougherty, Gary Dolch, George Drazic, Eduardo Guerra, Nikolas Hazel, David Manning, Joe Mohrfeld, Yoshi Okai, Steve Vinklarek, and Chad Worner for their positive impact on the West Austin community and our world. They are an inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for their leadership and invaluable contributions.

Andrew Bennett
Bennett Creative

Andrew Bennett is an Executive Producer, Director and member of the West Austin Chamber of Commerce. He believes that "the industry can often be rough around the edges," but provides clients an uplifting, encouraging environment. His background in corporate sales led him to make a career change in 2014, when he apprenticed with an award-winning film director in Austin. Since then, he has worked with hundreds of brands to help craft their visual narrative.

Beyond his work in the video industry, Andrew is also a lifelong musician and passionate supporter of the Austin music scene. He was even voted "Best Live Music Photographer" by the Austin Chronicle several years ago. In 2018, Andrew and his wife Dorothy founded Bennett Creative, a company that specializes in video production services. Andrew's commitment to creating uplifting and encouraging work environments is a testament to his passion for helping others succeed.

Dr. Steve Conroy
Boost Performance and Longevity Center

Dr. Steven Conroy's passion for health and wellness can be traced back to his father, who worked tirelessly while struggling with obesity, diabetes, and related complications. This inspired Dr. Conroy to optimize his own health and the health of others. "I think the greatest impact in my life's direction has come from my father, who passed away last year from Prostate Cancer," says Dr. Conroy.

Dr. Conroy's commitment to his patients is evident in his practice, Boost Performance and Longevity Center, where he combines his expertise in functional/integrative medicine with personal experience as an endurance athlete. "I want to show them that various nutritional interventions, exercise, sleep, along with detections of various blood markers and tests can help us stratify, and intervene to mitigate long term risks. All with the goal of achieving healthspan optimization to live as long as they can with minimal effects on their overall health."

James Dougherty
Magnify Electric

James Dougherty, owner of Magnify Electric, believes that trust and integrity are what set his business apart. "We are an electrical contracting company that people can put their trust in because we stand behind our work," he says. Faith has been a significant influence on his personal and professional life. "The man who has had the greatest impact on my life and where it is headed is my relationship with Jesus," he shares. Additionally, his mentor Benny Bird gave him the confidence to establish Magnify Electric in 2012.

James and his team are dedicated to delivering quality services that "Magnify" their clients' homes and businesses. They also give back by supporting local nonprofits, such as the Hays Caldwell Women's Center and Lake Travis High School PTO. James explains, "It is our goal at Magnify Electric to give back to the community that has given so much to us."

Gary Dolch
Austin Luxury Group

Gary Dolch, an extraordinary entrepreneur and real estate professional, is the co-owner of Dolch Properties Inc. and Austin Luxury Group, and a founding agent of COMPASS alongside his wife Michelle. He has a deep appreciation for hard work and the value of strong relationships, saying, "I always understood the value of working with people you like and have always tried to surround myself with people smarter than me."

At just 13 years old, Gary started his first company and employed six of his closest friends, marking the beginning of his impressive career as an entrepreneur. He went on to found three corporations before the age of 30, taking two of them through successful seed and angel rounds of investor financing. Gary's success serves as a reminder that we can all strive for excellence in our personal and professional lives while staying grounded and connected to the people we love.

George Drazic
Efficient AC, Electric & Plumbing

George Drazic, the president of Efficient AC, Electric & Plumbing, is a true embodiment of fearlessness and dedication. Though the company's roots are in commercial construction, Efficient takes on projects across all trades. As Drazic himself puts it, "We are not scared of specialties - industrial projects, architectural challenges, new products, varied materials."

Drazic's mother has had the greatest impact on his life. He says, "She was an immigrant who fought to become a US citizen," giving up her career to raise him. "She once told me not to be so fearful of losing money, but rather to be fearful of not chasing my dreams. She was a patriot and never said a bad word about our great country." As a board member of Skillpoint Alliance, a non-profit that provides free training in skilled trades and manufacturing, Drazic's company has hired many Skillpoint graduates, helping to support and elevate the community.

Eduardo Guerra
First United Bank

Eduardo Guerra is an accomplished AVP Financial Center Manager and Bank Officer at First United Bank - Lakeway. Eduardo credits his father for instilling in him values that have contributed to his success. He says, "My father had a huge impact on my life's direction." He goes on to share, "We believe everyone has an important role to play for the companies’ success no matter what their responsibilities are."

As a community leader, Eduardo believes in making a positive impact on the lives of others. He is proud to work for a bank whose values align with his own. He explains, "Through our values (Faith, Family, and Integrity) we are working on impacting 10 million lives by 2030. We work hard on delivering the very best employee and customer experience. Our goal is to help our communities flourish through continued mentorship of ourselves and others to Spend Life Wisely."

Nikolas Hazel
Nikolas Alan Jewelers

Nikolas Hazel is a distinguished designer and owner of Nikolas Alan Jewelers in Lakeway, with over 25 years of experience in geology, gemology, and creating high-end jewelry. "We take pride in our work and are self-critical of our quality workmanship. We strive to put out the highest quality in every facet of our services," he says.

Nik credits his first boss and employer in the jewelry industry for inspiring him to pursue his dreams and establish his own successful business. He explains, "I often think of quotes and business practices that I learned from him over the 14 years that I worked for him and put those words and ideas into practice in my own business." Recently, Nik's custom sapphire pendant set a new record for the highest bid item at the Lake Travis Education Foundation Gala, reinforcing his position as a celebrated figure in the world of fine jewelry.

David Manning
David Manning Architecture

David Manning, the architect behind David Manning Architecture, had a passion for design that was sparked at the age of five. "As a child, I roamed my grandmother's ranch and observed the movement of shadows cast by rock outcroppings and large boulders in the fields," Manning recalls. Today, he draws from his bachelor's degrees in both architecture and fine arts/sculpture to help people realize their building dreams.

"All of our projects are heartfelt responses to our client's needs," Manning says. His dedication to green building has led to some notable achievements, including being featured on the American Institute of Architects Homes Tour and in the book "Luxury Homes of Texas." Manning emphasizes the importance of active listening, stating, "We value listening highly and have several favorable customer reviews available. Customer service is key to us. We want our customers to feel blessed at the end of our work together."

Joe Mohrfeld
Pinthouse Brewing

Joe Mohrfeld, Co-founder and Brewmaster at Pinthouse, values hard work, entrepreneurship, and enjoying life to the fullest. His personal values and character are shaped by his grandfather and father. Joe's father is his best friend, reminding him "to have fun and not take life too seriously," while Joe's grandfather, who has owned and operated his restaurant for the past 58 years, is the one who Joe says "instilled the entrepreneurial mindset I have today."

Since the early days at Pinthouse, Joe has been committed to being a part of Austin's fabric, leading community-based philanthropic programs such as The House That Beer Built through Habitat for Humanity. His team brews charitable beers, with a portion of the sales supporting organizations that promote diversity, community, and the local environment. "I am very proud of this at Pinthouse, as it provides both myself and the business with a stronger connection to our community."

Yoshi Okai
OTOKO

Yoshi Okai, the head chef of OTOKO and musician, brings a wealth of culinary experience and high energy to the table. Born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, he was immersed in the culinary traditions of his family's catering company. After moving to Austin in 1998, Yoshi found inspiration in the local music scene, citing Mike Carroll from Poison 13 as a legend and praising the Big Boys' cool style.

"Their music really influenced me and made me realize that I didn't need to be put into a box to be great," Yoshi says. He has since devoted himself to the art of crafting an omakase dining experience, and his dedication has earned him a reputation as one of the most respected chefs in the industry. His talent has been recognized by numerous publications, including Food & Wine Magazine in 2017 and the Austin Chronicle's First Plates Award in 2019.

Steve Vinklarek
State Farm Insurance

Steve Vinklarek, a proud native Texan, has been serving the Greater Austin area since 1998 as a second-generation State Farm Insurance Agent. He is a State Farm Chairman's Circle & President's Club Agent and a Million Dollar Round Table Agent for life insurance. Steve attributes his strong work ethic to his father, Don Vinklarek, who was a State Farm Agent in Houston. "He taught me how to work hard at a very young age," says Steve.

With his work ethic in tow, Steve carried his commitment to service through college with the Pappas restaurant family and now provides an amazing level of service to many families in West Austin. "My family works hard to give our time and donations," shares Steve. He and his family proudly support charities such as Mobile Loaves & Fishes, FIT (Food & Tummies), ASPA, Make A Wish, Pop-up Birthday, and Austin Crop Walk.

Chad Worner
Frontyard Brewing

Chad, who owns Frontyard Brewing, is passionate about providing a space for people to come together and create lasting memories over craft beer or other cold beverages. The brewery's core beliefs reflect this commitment to community, with a focus on fostering connections that turn neighbors into friends and friends into family. Frontyard Brewing also supports local non-profits that make a positive impact on women, children, and schools.

Chad's philosophy on life has been shaped by several influential men, including his father, grandfather, and other leaders from his church and small groups. He credits his father for teaching him "that within every problem there is always a solution," and his grandfather for imparting wisdom to "mind your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." These mentors have helped him remain grounded, humble, and focused on what matters most: people.

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