In the 21st century, we’re more mobile than ever. Youths from some towns flock towards opportunity, leaving their home economy to dry up. While other towns get a massive influx of outsiders – killing the culture.
But some lucky cities like San Antonio get the best of both worlds: a healthy economy (without losing its identity).
Today’s guest is Ed Arnold, editor of the San Antonio Business Journal. If you want to know what’s going on in the world of San Antonio Business, Ed is your guy.
In today’s episode, you’ll get a rundown of why San Antonio is one of the best economies to live in right now. You’ll also find out how to keep up to date on all things San Antonio business.
Show Highlights Include:
- Why scheduling “face to face Mondays” makes your team more efficient (even if everybody is able to work from home) ([6:09])
- A critical resource that helps your business grow (and avoid threats) in the San Antonio region ([7:17])
- The easy way to discover new business owners in town (so you can forge win-win relationships that boost your bottom line) ([8:00])
- Why more Texans are flocking to San Antonio than any other city (and what that means for your local culture) ([13:37])
“San Antonio, despite all this growth, still has its own authenticity inside. It’s still a very core business community here in San Antonio.”
– Ed Arnold
Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas—and, now, here’s your host financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.
Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. I appreciate you showing up today.
Retire in Texas is sponsored by PAX Financial Group, so be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information. Again, this information is general in nature only. It’s not intended to provide specific tax or legal advice, so visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more details. [01:04].3]
We have a really good guest today. I’m excited to have Ed Arnold for the San Antonio Business Journal with us, and I actually was a guest on—Ed, what’s the name of your show, the actual program?
Ed: Sure. It’s called Texas Business Minds, a statewide podcast with us and the Houston, Austin and Dallas Business Journals. We do it on a rotating basis.
Darryl: Texas Business Minds. I couldn’t remember the exact title, but I liked the show and I liked the format, and I was honored to be a guest, so you are reciprocating that today.
Ed: I couldn’t be happier to be with you, Darryl. Thank you so much.
Darryl: Hey, I want to dive into a lot of different areas over the next 20 minutes or so. Let’s start out knowing a little bit more about you. Are you from San Antonio? Are you from Texas?
Ed: No, I’m not. I moved here from Memphis about five years ago. I lived in Memphis for about 15 years or so, but I originally grew up in North Georgia, right outside of Athens, Georgia.
Ed: I usually tell people that I’m genetically a Texan. My mother was a Texan. My mother taught at Texas A&M–Kingsville for many years. She passed away a few years ago. She had been in Waco. She was from a tiny Texas town called Mart, Texas, a little bit outside of Waco. [02:07].8]
But until I moved here, I had only visited Texas two times, until I moved here, but my great grandparents are buried in South San Antonio. My mother’s family pretty much goes all the way from Kingsville up to Dallas and back, so I’ve got a lot of extended family in Texas. But, me, I’m a new one.
Darryl: Yeah, so magnetically, you were pulled here.
Ed: Oh, it happens. It’s got its own gravitational pull, that’s for sure.
Darryl: Yeah. What are some of the cultural differences between Memphis and here?
Ed: Sure. There’s a lot of things that are different about Texas and Tennessee, if you will, and Memphis and San Antonio, specifically. There’s a lot of similarities, but being connected to the Mississippi river and having that be sort of part of the trendsetter, the tempo-setter for the culture in Memphis is a lot different. Memphis is a smaller city. It has a different sort of cultural background. It has a different feel and flavor to it, but there’s a lot of similarities, too. [02:57].2]
I mean, I joke about this a lot when I meet people new, but I’ve pretty much traveled the same route that David Crockett came. When he made his speech about how he had lost his election and he was going to Texas, that speech actually took place at a bar in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a representative from the 8th district in Tennessee or the 9th district in Tennessee, which was the Memphis district that was Davy Crockett’s district when he was a Tennessee elected official.
Ed: There’s a lot of transportation sort of in the historic Texas and Tennessee over the years. But the flavor of San Antonio and Texas, in general, it definitely has its own weather, if that makes sense.
Darryl: Yeah. Memphis, when I think I enjoy going to Nashville a couple times a year.
Darryl: And Franklin in Nashville. Actually, I hear there’s a different culture between Memphis and Nashville, too, right?
Ed: Yeah, no question, no question. Nashville has got the Country Music Hall of Fame, right? It’s the seat of the country music industry and Memphis was the seat of R&B for the ’70s and rap music currently. There’s a lot of differences there, but they do share a lot of sort of cross-cultural things with each other, but similar to Austin and San Antonio, right? We’re friendly neighbors, but culturally we do feel a lot different, right? [04:05].2]
Darryl: Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. What brought you to San Antonio?
Ed: I was with the Memphis Business Journal as a digital producer and writer before I came here for five years. I’ve been with the company overall, American City Business Journals, for 10 years, five in Memphis and then five here.
It was twofold why I took the job. One, I wanted to move up. I wanted to go into management. I was sort of reporting on a regular basis and I wanted to do more editing, and at the time, I wanted to be closer to my mother who was living in Waco at the time, and so my wife and our children moved here in 2016. Yeah, 2016, December 2016, and we’ve enjoyed it immensely, but it was about trying to get close to Mom and trying to step up a little bit in my career.
Darryl: That makes sense. How old were your kids or how old are they now?
Ed: I have two daughters. I have a 21-year-old who is at UTSA and I have an 11-year-old that is in middle school, so I’ve really got quite a gap there.
Darryl: Yeah. Did they have any trouble with the transition, just generally speaking, or how did they adapt? [05:00].0]
Ed: No. In fact, they both adapted really well. It’s tough to make a transition when you’re in high school and she was in high school when we moved. That’s a tough time to move, but she really embraced it, and she fell in with a great group in her high school and took off and has been very happy here. I always say, I joke about her, how much more of a Texan she is in five years than I am. She goes to UTSA and she works at H-E-B. Essentially, she is officially locked in as a Texan at this point.
Darryl: You’re in.
Ed: Yeah, exactly.
Darryl: You just have to admit the barbecue is better than Tennessee’s.
Ed: Oh, I can’t do it. I can’t do it. Tugging on my heartstrings, Darryl. I can’t do it.
Darryl: I moved from Harlingen in 10th grade. I’m sorry, there were a couple different iterations of there. Harlingen, actually, down in the valley, they split the school, so I had to go to a separate school in 10th grade. That was kind of a move because I had to leave a lot of my friends at the other campus, which was called South Harlingen. Then in my senior year, I had to move to Castroville, Medina Valley, so I had a couple moves in high school and both of those were real challenging. I even had one in 8th grade where I moved from Boerne to Harlingen, so in all of about five years, I had three different moves, so I can imagine your kids having to make those adjustments. [06:10].8]
Ed: Oh, yeah, they did great and they couldn’t have been better received and have adapted beautifully, for sure.
Darryl: Yeah, that’s cool. How are your work hours now? Are you all over the place, I mean, being in the business that you’re in?
Ed: Yeah, it’s been a difficult transition back and forth. We’re turning to the office in fits and starts. We had a lot of us, all came rushing back into the office a few months ago, and then, sadly, as it happens, a few of us got sick and we had to sort of take a few days off or a week off to not be in person again.
Right now, I’m working in the office about three days a week, working at home about two days a week. I like going to the office on Monday with us as a group and sort of getting us off on the right foot, if that makes sense, but otherwise, I’m kind of flexible. The way the paper and the news day goes, I could be working anywhere from [9:00] to [9:00], depending on– I’m a little lucky, I don’t have to do the same sort of schedule that our friends at the daily newspapers have to do. We don’t have night cops. We don’t cover crime. We cover business, and so [9:00] to [5:00] is when most of our news stories take place, but that’s not always that way. [07:12].3]
But as far as the days, I’m trying to keep it loose and open and let events dictate it, but we’re becoming more and more consistent with what days we’re coming back, what days we’re asking everyone to come back, but it’s still in a lot of flux.
Darryl: Yeah, that makes sense. Now, since you made that contrast, I wanted to let the audience know, the San Antonio Business Journal and most, I assume most community business journals may be overlooked by the majority of the community, but for those that have any business interests, it is one of the most important resources to get information about what’s going on in the business community.
When somebody says the San Antonio Business Journal, it’s actually a pretty critical resource to know what’s happening, where the growth is happening, where the threats are happening, so I don’t want to understate that to the audience that may have not picked up a business journal before and I think you know that. But there’s a lot of people, like my parents, who have never picked up the business journal, which is okay. [08:08].4]
Darryl: For those that are just trying to understand and move dirt or start a business, you’ve got to open that.
Ed: Yeah. I mean, this is one of the things that is sort of part of our creed. We are of a different sort of modus operandi at ACBJ. It’s very clear in our mission statement that part of what our responsibility is is to help grow your business. It’s, in fact, one of the first things that we say in our creed that we have as a corporation, which is our motivation, as a media provider, is to give you information that will allow you to grow your business, simplify your professional life, meet the new people in town, meet the people that you want to do business with, find out who’s doing business where.
We intend to create it, not just as a new source, which is very important, but as a resource tool for people trying to– San Antonio, along with a lot of our other markets, too, there’s 45 ACBJ markets across the country now. Part of the goal is to introduce new people to town to who they should know, and introduce readers to new people coming to town who are having an impact in the business community. [09:10].2]
It’s different from a lot of different daily newspaper and TV news operations that people are familiar with. We just have a different underlying theme with what we do. What we’re supposed to do with every story is consider how it would impact someone’s business and give them actionable information that they can actually use to grow their own and interface with a broader business community.
Darryl: Yeah, that makes sense and I can see that. One of the things that’s recently troubled me, and maybe we could speak to this a little bit, is we’re a financial services company, PAX Financial Group, and we’re homegrown. We’ve just been grinding from the bottom up, not any outside capital or anything like that. I would aspire to be able to have a greater impact in our community and beyond, and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of pain when a company called Self became, I guess, the sponsor of the Spurs and put the logo on the jersey. I would’ve been okay with it if Self was from San Antonio, but they were from a little town north of us called Austin, Texas. [10:09].0]
Ed: Right, I might have heard of it.
Darryl: For those that don’t know, Austin is really close to Texas. That’s my little punch at Austin. I love Austin. They’re obviously different, but the reality is that I wanted a San Antonio company to be here and be that sponsor. Also, I would like to see a better financial representation in San Antonio, similar to what you see in Dallas. I mean, we do have the USAA and the Frost, and that’s a great start, but there’s still some opportunities. Can I just speak on the financial services sector, in general?
Ed: Yes, yes.
Darryl: Are you seeing any progress momentum there or are we taking a step back relative to Austin?
Ed: I think it’s tough to say, because when you’re looking at these things, it’s almost like we’re playing two different games sometimes, the way I look at Austin and San Antonio, despite what you’re talking about, which is these are companies that work for the same mediums. [10:56].8]
But if you look at sort of the biggest heavyweights in San Antonio’s financial sector, obviously Frost and USAA, they make their own weather. They’re the biggest players around, as far as it goes, but, secondarily, some of the biggest players in our market are not banks, but credit unions. We have two of the largest 10 largest credit unions in town and they have their own sort of industry around them. Huge presences for Navy PenFed and huge presences for maybe–
Ed: Yeah, Randolph-Brooks. There are just huge amounts of sort of institutional credit unions that, really, Austin just doesn’t have. I mean, they have credit unions, but not on their scale, not even close. Obviously, this goes back to a lot of the military and public service history that we have here in San Antonio.
But if we’re drilling down a little deeper, if we’re drilling down to actual financial advisors, wealth management firms, local entities that are doing less of the broad bank stuff and more individual financial, I’ve seen a lot of well-known names in the last two or three years get snatched up by larger, broader [entities].
I’m trying to remember all of them, but I know South Texas Money Management was purchased earlier during the pandemic, basically, and they kind of finished the deal afterwards, but that was a well-known, well-respected local firm and still is. The team there is excellent. I know them and I think they’re great. [12:09].4]
But it is showing that San Antonio is drawing more attention. There are more outside suitors now coming in to buy us up and to put money into us, which is a positive, but you run the risk of losing a little bit of the identity, which is I think what you started this conversation with, talking about Self. I don’t have anything against Self either and I understand why the Spurs would want to try to make themselves into a regional player and try to get as many customers as they can. We all understand that. But there’s something about losing that little piece of real estate to a company that isn’t a San Antonio company.
But I do think it rankles locals and it does speak to a desire in the local services industry in the local business community to still remain independent and to remain San Antonio-centric. But Austin doesn’t seem to have that kind of problem. I feel like a lot of times they can outbid whoever is trying to come into them and we often are sort of left taking bids from bigger companies that are outside of town. [13:06].6]
Darryl: Yeah, that makes sense.
Ed: I’d love to see more growth.
Darryl: I guess I’ll express it here. I’ve expressed it with my team. PAX has had offers from very large outside companies, enough that I would be in a position financially to just check out and enjoy my life, but I’ve declined those because I think there’s a bigger mission here and I think there’s an opportunity for a company like ours to really be homegrown and make a staple in the community. Hopefully, one day you’ll see our name on those jerseys.
Ed: I’d love to see that. That would be great. I want to see it on the stadium. That’s where I want to see it.
Darryl: Yeah, there you go.
Ed: I want it on the arena. That’s where I want to see it.
Darryl: Look, I’m 45, so I still have a good 20 years at least, right?
Ed: You have plenty of time, yeah. You have plenty of time. You have plenty of time.
Darryl: Tell me a little bit about the San Antonio community. What are you seeing as you talk to your padres or your compadres over at the others, the Austin, Houston, and Dallas? What do you see different there in the business cultures and climates? [13:58].0]
Ed: Yeah, I think that’s huge for us. I mean, San Antonio, despite all this growth, still has its own authenticity inside. It’s still a very core business community here in San Antonio. Austin, Dallas, and Houston, to them, a lot of times it feels like a free for all, where, suddenly, they don’t know who the players are. People are moving into those communities at such a rapid pace.
People are moving to our communities, too, but what we’ve found, and, in fact, this is going to be the subject of the cover story in the next few weeks, and this is probably speaks to your clientele and customers as well, we’ve found more Texans moving from other cities to San Antonio than we have people from out of state moving to San Antonio.
Ed: It’s almost as if Californians, people from Colorado, Oklahoma and Louisiana are moving to Houston, Dallas, Austin, and people who had been living in Austin for a long time and living in Houston for a long time, feeling themselves squeezed out—maybe they get an offer on their home. They’re close to retirement. They get a great offer on their home—and they find San Antonio to be a really welcoming place where they can still get a pretty good deal on a home, where the cost of living is still under control, and so the business community sort of reflects that. [15:07].4]
There’s lots and lots of people moving here, but unlike Austin and Dallas, particularly and to a lesser extent, Houston, the people that are moving here are moving for opportunities, not necessarily for lower costs, if that makes some sense. We have people moving from Austin to Houston maybe to save a little money around retirement. We’re also having tons and tons of people still moving up from the valley, as you know and you are aware of, and from Corpus, who are looking for better jobs in a better market and a higher standard of living in cases. Those two things blend together for a remarkably healthy influx, as far as I’m concerned, as far as San Antonio is concerned.
I think Austin is still struggling with how to handle their influx. We read about it all the time. Dallas is so big that it has no shortage of places to stick everyone for the influx, whereas in San Antonio, we still seem to be sort of reflecting the character that San Antonio has traditionally, even though we have tons and tons of new people moving here, and I think that has a lot to do with who is choosing to live here. [16:01].4]
Darryl: I think I want to leave on that note. I think that there’s so much to talk about here and I wanted to get to all of it. I didn’t even get to half of it, but I think that’s worthy of consideration. San Antonio is a special place, not for just outside of the state, but also within the state. Although I’d love to sometime, and I know I might have to do this, just bring on somebody from Houston and Dallas in your role and hear their story as well.
Darryl: But I think that they would all admit that San Antonio does have a special flavor. As I end on that note, I definitely have to ask you about your special flavor. What is your favorite salsa?
Ed: Okay. I’m a verde man. I like a green salsa. I like a nice tomatillo salsa. I like it to be extra hot. But if you’re giving that, people ask me what kind of enchiladas I like, red or green. I’m a mole man. I’d much rather have mole, in general. I’m a mole man. But if we’re talking about salsa, nice green, a really hot, spicy tomatillo that’s really fresh. You can’t do better.
Darryl: That is good stuff. In fact, we’re recording this on Friday afternoon and you’ve got me hungry already. [17:04].6]
Ed: I love it. Let’s get out of here and grab a taco.
Darryl: Thank You so much for being on today. I really appreciate it.
Ed: No problem, Darryl. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
Darryl: For those that have stayed to the end of the show, I do appreciate you. You’re listening to Retire in Texas, and if you need to speak to an advisor, text “Texas” to 74868—and, remember, you think different when you think long term.
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