EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Gulf Coast Area Awards

Consumer Products

AWARD RECIPIENT

hou_eoy_JerryLascoJerry Lasco
Founder and CEO
Lasco Enterprises
www.lascoenterprises.com

 

Jerry Lasco has had moments in his life when it would have been easy to feel sorry for himself. One of the most profound was when he was furloughed as a pilot with Continental Airlines following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was a tough moment, but Lasco turned adversity into a seed that started his empire.
It began with the first Tasting Room Wine Cafe, a European-inspired wine bar where customers could purchase a bottle of wine after trying it at the restaurant.
The empire grew through commitment to employees, the development of a unique culture and core values for his business, as well as a constant willingness and desire to change.
Before opening his first restaurant, Lasco took a job at a local wine shop where he began a concerted effort to better understand the wine business. He quickly saw opportunities to improve the existing business model of a typical wine shop, and quickly developed his own business plan. After a year of working in the industry and sharpening his wine skills, the first Tasting Room opened.
At this point, Lasco knew his entrepreneurial dream had been achieved, but this was only the beginning. MAX’s Wine Dive, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden and Flow Juice Bar followed, each with a unique twist that keeps customers coming back.
There were challenges along the way. One weekend, Lasco came home from a long day at one of his restaurants filled with concern. While his business was prospering, he was worried because several employees had quit. The company had been a full speed ahead production-driven enterprise, and it was time for a different measure of success.
He asked, “What does the company really believe in?” Within a year, Lasco Enterprises had a vision, a purpose, core values and a mission. The next step in the growth of his business had been taken.


FINALISTS

hou_eoy_BruceGingrichBruce Gingrich
Owner and CEO
Lifechek Drug
www.lifechekdrug.com

 

When Lifechek Drug launched, Bruce Gingrich was the only employee. It’s not something that just anybody can do, but Gingrich has never been one to back away from a challenge. He finds great satisfaction in taking on a difficult situation and seeing it through to a successful outcome.
Lifechek has been through its share of challenges over the years. The company has constantly adapted to new opportunities and changing market conditions.
Instead of a high-margin, fragmented business, Gingrich has watched his industry become a low-margin business dominated by a few well-financed companies. To overcome the changing landscape, Gingrich has positioned his company to be the dominant player in small markets and recently began focusing on compound drugs rather than brand and generic drugs.
Gingrich now has a staff of about 450 people that includes pharmacists as well as sales, IT, accounting and management. Over the years, he has learned the value of acquiring and retaining top talent. His management team has been with him since 1992 and performs most of the day-to-day functions so Gingrich can focus on other ventures.
One of those other endeavors is his restaurant business. They are successful due in large part to Gingrich’s ability to acquire a top manager from a competitor who brought the necessary skills and expertise to the table.
The ability to see an opportunity is Gingrich’s greatest asset and has served him well in the growth experienced at his restaurants and at Lifechek. At his first store, Gingrich found a wonderful location where he could grow sales. He would stand outside the local supermarket and hand out coupons to customers that were holding prescription bags.
His second store was a startup in a growing market with a giant next door in Eckerd Drug Store. The nimble nature of being a startup allowed Lifechek to outcompete the giant and create a template for Gingrich’s business strategy.


hou_eoy_JaniceJuckerJanice Jucker
Co-owner and president
Three Brothers Bakery
www.3brothersbakery.com

 

Not one to back down from a challenge no matter how daunting it may seem, Janice Jucker was able to defeat stage 2 breast cancer eight years ago with a positive attitude.
That positive attitude helped her persevere again when Hurricane Ike blew through Houston in 2008 leaving destruction in its wake, including her business, Three Brothers Bakery.
The store was forced to close for repairs, but Jucker paid her employees for nine months. When Three Brothers Bakery reopened, it was back and better than ever.
The bakery began in Poland, but was halted when the Jucker family was taken to concentration and death camps during World War II. On Liberation Day, the three brothers, Sigmund, Sol and Max, along with sister, Jeanie, were released from the camps.
The family immigrated to the U.S. where the brothers opened a bakery in Houston. Over the years, the store, located in Braeswood since 1960, evolved.
As co-owner and president, Jucker recognized that in the baking industry, trends and tastes are always changing. Three Brothers Bakery would not survive if it continued to operate as a small family business. The company had to modernize and be able to adapt to trends that were becoming a part of the business.
Thanks to Jucker’s leadership, Three Brothers has demonstrated an ability to acclimate and overcome obstacles within the industry through a number of steps.
The company is able to design and create custom cakes for any occasion and has implemented social media strategies and an online store to keep customers informed. This includes those who are already loyal customers and those who have yet to discover Three Brothers Bakery.