Joel and Irma Reyna, along with their close-knit family, have carved out a rock-solid business, Impact Stone Design, based on unwavering principles, integrity, a strong faith in the Lord, and care for others. As a young man, Joel dreamt of running his own business. He would frequently gaze in awe at the large stone-cutting machine worth nearly $130,000 at the granite and marble plant where he worked and say out loud, “One day I’ll have one of my own machines like that!” His coworkers would laugh at him and tell him he was crazy because it would be impossible for him to ever achieve such a lofty dream.
After working very hard for years doing jobs on the side along with the help of his wife, Irma, Joel saved up enough money to buy a small saw and gave his supervisor two weeks notice. His supervisor tried to discourage him by telling him that he didn’t speak English well enough, he didn’t know enough about the business, and he was not going to make it. Four years later, the company Joel had worked for went out of business and not only did Joel buy the stone-cutting machine at an auction, he took over the location where the company had been and hired some of their employees!
Today, Impact Stone Design is a leader in the fabrication and installation of natural stone. Quality work in residential, commercial, and government projects have earned them respect and admiration around the country. In addition, they are also known for the service they do throughout the community. Joel focuses on the assurance of quality fabrication; family matriarch Irma Reyna is the Company President; daughter Veronica Reyna is the Chief Estimator and Project Manager; daughter Victoria Lara is over Business Development; and daughter Irma is the Office Administrator. In addition, other family members are actively involved in different areas of the business including son Joel, Jr. who is in charge of Technical Support and son Eduardo who is in charge of Safety.
In 1979, Joel, who had grown up in Hidalgo, Mexico, was attending the university there and decided to vacation in the United States. He wanted to visit his father who had come to the U.S. as part of the Bracero Program. Joel’s brother was also living in Houston and was married. 21-year-old Joel had intended to return to Mexico and continue his education but after meeting Irma, the sister of his brother’s wife, his plans changed. For Joel, it was love at first sight but Irma had a boyfriend and didn’t like Joel at all! Little by little, as Irma got to know Joel, her feelings changed and in 1980, Joel and Irma were married.
Irma had also grown up in Mexico, in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas. When she was 14, her mother discovered they had family in Texas. In addition, Irma’s mother learned that their family was originally from the U.S. but had moved to Mexico during the Great Depression, affording Irma’s mother a U.S. citizenship. Little did anyone know that this was to be the beginning of a successful large family whose talents, hard work, and integrity would bring them to where they are today.
In 1981, daughter Irma was born. Then, one by one, over the next four years, a new sibling followed in order – Joel Jr., Veronica, Victoria, and then Eduardo. For several years, patriarch Joel had driven a produce truck in Houston. After Joel was involved in a motor vehicle accident, a series of additional setbacks would follow. After there was an economic recession, Joel was laid off. He was determined to find another job so that he could support his family. Fortunately, during the interim of his unemployment, Irma, who was no stranger to hard work, maintained a positive attitude and did what she could to help make ends meet.
Irma’s indomitable spirit was a result of her own mother who was a role model for all of the women in the Reyna family. She had inspired them to move forward no matter what obstacles might be thrown in their path. When Irma was growing up in Mexico, her older brother, who was 17, died in a tragic accident. He had been working at a gas station in Mexico and was helping support the family. After he died, Irma’s mother had to find a way to support her family. Alone, she moved from Mexico to Texas where she was able to find work and then send money back home. Although tragic, the death of Irma’s brother was the stimulus that led her mother to Texas where eventually they all relocated. Ultimately, Houston would become the birthplace of Impact Stone Design.
Throughout Joel’s life, he had been exposed to relatives that worked in quarries and stone. A job was opening at a marble and granite quarry called Cold Spring Granite (now known as Texas Granite) and was in Marble Falls, Texas, a small town located 48 miles northeast of Austin. The Reyna family packed up their worldly possessions and moved there in 1984 when Irma was pregnant with Victoria, child number four. Little did she know that she was on her way to being a partner in a new business venture.
At first, Joel started by learning about working with large machinery, cranes, salt machines, and other important skills. He was quickly promoted to fabrication and well on his way. Unfortunately, the town of Marble Falls was very small and when new owners took over the plant, everyone was laid off. Once again, Joel and Irma were back to square one. Regardless, they did not see this is as a defeat. Armed with new skills and Irma’s innate business sense, the family came back to Houston in 1987.
Surprisingly, Joel saw that the homes in Houston were architecturally simpler and less ornate than those he had been trained to work on. He began to feel even more confident that his dream to run his own business someday was within his reach. With Irma’s encouragement and assistance, Joel worked side jobs to save money for the planned business. Even though she was raising their five children, Irma found time to handle the administrative part of the side business. “We never kept any money during that time,” explained Irma. “All the money went to the employees, reimbursement, and other expenses.” Little by little, Joel was earning a reputation for his honesty, loyalty, quality of work, and the impact he made on the community.
It was during this time, a company in Dallas, Texas approached Joel to work directly for them. Although Joel worked for another factory, the contractor did not want to go through a middleman to hire him. They were offering him a lot of money that could be put towards the growing savings fund he and Irma were planning to invest in their own business. Their dream was becoming a reality!
In 1989, Joel went to his employer and said he was giving his two weeks notice to go out on his own. His supervisor told him he would never be successful. “You don’t speak English well and you know nothing about business! You won’t make it. You will come back here after you fail,” he was told. Undeterred and with his business-minded wife at his side, Joel left to use the savings he had worked so hard for to purchase a building to house his stone-crafting business.
Four years later, the company where Joel had worked had gone out of business and the building was up for sale. In addition, the large stone-cutting machine was being auctioned off that was housed in the same building. Just as Joel had predicted, that one day he would own an expensive stone-cutting machine like the one where he worked, he not only bought the one up for auction, he also bought the building where it was housed! This way, he didn’t have to spend money moving the machine! The best part was that Joel and Irma were able to employ some of the workers there who would have otherwise lost their jobs when the company failed. Renting the house next door, the Reyna family became owners of their own business. They had a new business and a new home!
One of the first tasks was to determine how much to charge their new customers. Joel began digging in the trash dumpsters where the previous company had been to look at receipts and bills. He decided to charge less than they had and went around to residential contractors outbidding everyone else! Irma officially became in charge of all the billing, invoices, and even ideas on how to expand. Marketing at that time was strictly by word of mouth. Offers from contractors grew as people heard about Joel and his work. If Joel told someone a job would take two weeks, then he would work day and night fourteen days in a row to be sure it was done. If a customer wanted a project done too quickly, Joel would be honest and say that he could not do it if it meant he would be compromising quality.
High quality work did not go unnoticed. Soon a day came when Joel was doing installation and caught the attention of none other than Tilman Fertitta, CEO and sole owner of Landry’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant corporations! Fertitta personally approached Joel and asked him to come sign a contract to work for him! Joel asked if the business mogul would mind stopping by his house because he had to get back home and check on his family and pet dogs. Unbelievably, Mr. Fertitta obliged, following Joel to see his home-based facility.
After working out the details, Joel and Irma found themselves on a whirlwind of success! Landry’s had restaurants and subsidiaries in many cities and states. Their daughters remember their parents traveling to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Memphis, Colorado, and Mississippi to work. The family also worked on the Polynesian Resort in Orlando, Florida. This was life-changing for them. As more and more jobs and contracts began pouring in including work for ZZ Top Band member Frank Beard and retired NBA player Hakeem Olajuwon, the small home-based family business was able to lease two larger facilities to run their operations and hire more people. At this point, many in the community considered Impact Stone as a company that was making an impact on people’s lives! That was the reason that the name Impact Stone was chosen for the company name.
In 1998, feeling it would be in the best interest of the company, Joel and Irma hired a man who was native to Texas and spoke English much more proficiently than either of them. Although he was not the owner, this man would be the voice and face of their company, communicating directly with contractors and collecting payment for the bills. Once he was in the picture, people were misled by him that he was the owner. It was easy for him to do and he readily took advantage of the situation. Soon Joel and Irma began noticing less money coming in, files missing, as well as complaints of projects not being completed. Their hearts sunk as they saw their dream dying in front of their eyes. The business was failing after all the years of hard work and sweat. This man who they had trusted had begun embezzling from them and destroying their reputation. He even stole all the business they had from the Landry’s corporation!
Impact Stone Design Chief Estimator and Project Manager, Veronica Reyna reflected, “You are going to have bad times. However, you must keep trying.” Veronica is truly an inspiration to anyone aspiring to succeed in business. She, along with her mother, sisters, and brothers are proud at how far the family business has come since her father’s dream first began. By 2001, the Reyna family started over again as a home-based business but never did their hopes and dreams waiver. As their children reached adulthood, they joined the company and became the core of the business.
Joel never wanted to push any of his children into working with him; he wanted them to come to him and ask. Middle daughter, Veronica explains that at about this time she was working very long hours for little money as a telemarketer. She was about 20 years old and admits she never had an interest in the family business. She complained a lot about her parents’ long and frequent absences.
Veronica was tired and unhappy at her job. Although she knew almost nothing about the stone business and had little formal education, she soon approached her father and asked if she could work for him. Joel was thrilled and agreed. Veronica asked, “For money?” “Yes,” exclaimed her parents! Telemarketing, although not Veronica’s dream career, did come in handy as a family salesperson. In addition, she received one hour training sessions from a family friend in estimating and reading blueprints,
Meanwhile, married daughter, Victoria was a stay-at-home-mom when her parents asked her to contribute to the business anyway that she could. They needed someone to go out in the field and make connections and the personable Victoria fit the bill. She was a natural and quite comfortable socializing and meeting new people. In addition, Victoria honed her people skills by taking college classes in communications. Her passion to attract more business extended to making every attempt to attend any and all networking events around the city. Keeping in line with the other women of the Reyna family, all of her work was done while simultaneously caring for her own children.
After meeting Cynthia Booker with UT Systems, Veronica and Victoria received many introductions through her. As a result, networking invitations came pouring in! While attending one of these events in Galveston, Texas in 2012, both Veronica and her sister Victoria were introduced to Michael Dwight with Hensel Phelps Construction Company. They made a great impression on him and he suggested they bid on the new Jennie Sealy Hospital in Galveston. This was an incredible contact!
The new hospital was going to be huge with seventeen floors and many restaurants. Victoria was beyond excited. Veronica cautiously began looking into the offer and recognized that Impact Stone Design was too small for such an overwhelming undertaking. The Reynas have always believed that their reputation for integrity and honesty must be upheld in all circumstances. They know how important it is for them to be realistic when committing to do quality work. Disappointed but integrity in tact, the Reynas chose not to bid on the project.
This connection however led to future opportunities including work through Hensel Phelps Construction on the Southwest Airlines International Expansion in Houston Hobby Airport. The sisters were encouraged to get bonded, certified, and take continuing education classes which they advise all business owners to do. They are HUB and WBE certified. Some of the continuing education programs they have taken include the NHPO Leadership Institute Course and the J.E. Dunn Minority Contractor Business Development Program.
Right after Victoria and Veronica met Cynthia Booker, a subcontractor who was using Impact Stone Designs as a third tier for countertops introduced them to Rodney Moore, Director of Operations with Vaughn Construction. In conversation, they referenced previous projects they had completed so they could find a way into working directly as a first tier. After realizing who Impact Stone Designs was, Vaughn gave them the opportunity to bid on projects and as a result, the outcome was quite favorable! They were awarded projects with Vaughn at the University of Houston Campuses and also in the Medical Center including the Methodist Hospital, MD Anderson, UT, and Memorial Herman.
The Reyna family feels extraordinarily blessed to be able to work together as a family and live their dreams. They also feel blessed for every opportunity that has come their way. They do all that they can to show their appreciation by supporting and giving back to the community. They were sponsors for the City of Houston’s Champions of Diversity Awards. Each year, Impact Stone Design donates custom-made stone plaques for the Hispanic Police Officer of the Year Awards. They were sponsors and donated plaques for the Mayor of Houston’s Hispanic Heritage Awards. They also are a sponsor of TBH (Talento Bilingue de Houston). Donations are made as well to the Spanish United Pentecostal Church that was founded by Irma’s mother. The Church serves as a house of worship for members of the community. Repairs, renovations, and remodeling are offered at a discounted service for community healthcare centers such as Shalom Clinic Ministries. Stonework is donated to help areas in need with people with disabilities.
The Reyna family is also proud that their company has also been recognized for their accomplishments and was selected as the Emerging Minority Firm of the Year at the Greater Houston Procurement Breakfast. In addition, the family is so proud that Victoria was appointed by the Mayor of Houston to be on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board.
Impact Stone Design has come a long way from the first aspirations of a young man’s dream to a successful, family-owned nationwide recognized business. Their strong faith has seen them through hard times and they give thanks to the Lord for their success. They recently completed a new state-of-the-art facility that they will be moving into shortly. The Reyna’s success is the result of their high standards in honesty, integrity, providing high quality work, and always being fair with their pricing. They never over-promise nor under-deliver. They are humble and always show their appreciation to their clients regardless of the size of their home or business. Providing their customers and community with such reassurance is the utmost priority to the people who own Impact Stone Design.
Two parents, five children, and extended relatives have worked hard in carving out their dreams of working together, living together, and giving back to the community. They work alongside each other in harmony as they continue to build a legacy for generations to come, all the while making an impact on so many lives. Impact Stone Design – a rock-solid family business founded on unwavering principles and dreams.