Inspiration At Hart

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FFor Rhonda and Jessica Minarcin, owners of Hart Employment, their personal work ethic and ability to adapt their business as times have changed have proven invaluable assets. A mother and daughter team, they have become one of the most successful employment agencies not only here, but in California as well. However, their passions run deeper than simply business success, and they work tirelessly on their ranch just outside of Boerne with their animal rescue mission, and continue to strive for success in every facet of their lives.

Rhonda, the original founder of Hart Employment, begins, “I am a proud native Texan and was born in Fort Stockton where my dad was the county agent. I ultimately grew up in New Mexico, attended college aiming for a degree in Human Resources. My husband at the time was going to acting school, so we moved to Los Angeles for a while. While there, I started working at a temp agency. I had always enjoyed working with people, and Human Resources seemed like a good fit for me to get to help people.”

Finding herself in Los Angeles after a humble upbringing in New Mexico was a bit of shock for the young mother, but she adapted quickly and began her career. She continues, “Jessica was born right after college, which I graduated in 3 years. It was quite a cultural change for me of course being in LA. I was working and I went in to apply for an HR job. The company had 5 offices at the time, and they asked me how fast I can type. I said ‘I didn’t go to college for 4 years to type’. But I was ultimately hired as a sales rep, then was promoted to open and manage an office and I learned the trade of staffing by opening their offices. I was their 2nd highest grossing sales person, and after I had Chad (her 2nd child) I wanted to go back to school to get MBA. I really wanted to grow in my career and I had 2 children to support as well now post-divorce, and I thought that it would be a good step for all of us. So we went back to New Mexico for graduate school, my parents were there, and it was a great time for all of us.”

The stressors of single parenthood were right in front of Rhonda however, and she knew that she needed to seek a path that would give them all the best life she could. She explains, “I was working 3 jobs at the time and had a newborn and a 4 year old so we moved back to California and opened Hart Employment on Nov 27, 1987. It was the golden age of California and I knew the market there. The staffing market wasn’t really hot in New Mexico, and I knew I could make a living for the kids in California. I was very motivated to do it – I never expected I’d be a single mom in my wildest dreams, but that’s how it went. I wanted the kids to have everything they would have with a dual income family, so I was financially motivated to support the kids. It was scary. I remember flying into LAX and I had made the decision to sign the lease on this tiny little office – it had one desk and one chair and a borrowed computer – and I would go out all day on sales calls. It was a one-woman show for a while.”

With her determination and work ethic, success quickly followed. “It went excellent. Within 6 months I was able to be supporting us and to pay my parents back the $10,000 I borrowed. It took off and was a great blessing for us. I worked 12-14 hour days, but it was a true gift. I credit it to just the fact that God looks after you. By nature I’m very tenacious and I’m very focused and I’m willing to do the work and that’s what I credit with that. There’s no way I could have done it without being blessed. I had no capital, under pressure, and no matter how hard I worked, it never should have worked but thank God that it did.”

However, the volatility of the race riots from the Rodney King trial in California got a little too close to comfort for the Minarcin family. She explains, “During the LA riots, we were up in the foothills and they started rioting up the street from us. I was watching TV and the cops were just standing there while this all happened. They couldn’t protect people and I didn’t have a gun and I was young and scared. So I prayed about what I wanted for my family, so we moved back to New Mexico, I got the kids going in school and built a home there in the desert and I flew back and forth to California. I was in the office one week out of every 3.” She explains the challenges and the opportunities with her now remote position. “At one time I had 12 people working in the California office, but most of the time we could cover it all with 4 or 5. I would come back and do the marketing and the problem solving so I would see all of our key clients and situations that would come up. It was a lot of conference calls and remote operations. I also got into real estate developments in New Mexico at that time. I would buy raw land, subdivide it and sell it. The business continued to grow and I had 3 or 4 key accounts that we maintained. Business was a lot different then – relationships were so much more important. The people we were associated with helped us keep growing. Truthfully most of the owners of staffing agencies aren’t present in the office. You don’t deal with the same people every single day – clients don’t need to see you every single day, and the internal staff was handling the temps so I made it work.”

As Jessica got to the age of college, some new opportunities presented themselves to the family. Jessica begins, “I enrolled at New Mexico State, but I graduated from Texas State.” Rhonda interjects, “With Jessica in Texas, and with the economic possibilities that existed here…and with the business climate being so much more healthy than California, I began to really look into the area and just fell in love with Boerne. This would be around 2002.”

Jessica continues, “I really wanted to be a vet and they had a great pre-vet program and I was looking at transferring to A&M. I’m a big animal fan. My first word was dog. So my love for animals has been throughout my life.” Rhonda ultimately purchased a large ranch on the Guadalupe River off of 474, and Jessica neared graduation. “I switched to Agriculture Business and graduated in ‘06. Life happened which caused my change in majors. I dropped out of school for a year and did rodeo. When I came back, I knew I didn’t want to be a vet anymore. I had all these vet credits and the only thing I could transfer them into was Ag Business. I wanted to get into animal pharma sales – still vet based and still around animals, but would be financially better off.”

Then the recession of 2008 hit.

Jessica explains, “The recession hit and the office in California was struggling badly. Mom was talking about closing it down and I had been going with her for a few years to meet clients and do sales meetings and to learn the industry so to speak. I said that I’m not doing my dream job – why don’t I go to California and work for cheap and just turn this around – so that’s what we did.” Rhonda adds, “It was about changing our business model to survive. The focus of our biz was small to medium sized business, and we’ve gone back and forth with all that. We were in the RED. I was very serious about closing it. I figured I could keep doing real estate business development. I sold all my commercial properties in ‘08 – small biz was failing right and left and it was a revolving door of tenants and it was killing me.”

Jessica says, “It went well in California. The business was turned around. We had to think outside the box so we started looking at different opportunities. One of them was that there wasn’t a lot of HUD zoned businesses that have to employ a certain demographic of people and they wanted to increase employment. There wasn’t a woman owned HUD certified staffing agency in Southern California, and we landed Amgen Pharma because of those certifications. We were one of only 5 certified in the country. It saved our company. We went from being in the red to being viable again and it allowed mom to open up Boerne. We billed millions to Amgen at that time. We also got our Government Services Administration certification and this was a huge thing for us. It’s so hard to get because when you bid for federal contracts they look at you far more favorably because you’ve already been vetted.”

As the family’s roots grew in the Boerne area, and with youngest Chad nearing graduation, Rhonda and Jessica began to contemplate a Boerne location for their business. Rhonda explains, “Boerne was a totally different market – it was really a life vest at that time we opened it for the company. We weren’t in the red in California yet, so it was to support that office at that time, but when Amgen came through, they both became self-sustaining. I love it in Boerne. I have a core and a center here. Chad was a sophomore at the time and he did so great here. The office here is a boutique operation here and it was during the recession that we started it and so we didn’t intend to duplicate what we had done in California but we knew it could be successful.”

Jessica was tasked with assisting with the operations here in Boerne, and says, “I’m not a huge fan of California, let’s just say that. It was so expensive and I really missed the sense of community that I had enjoyed here in Boerne. I missed the base and structure of the community. When the opportunity came up for me to help out here, I jumped at it.”She continues, “Boerne has been great. The market here was very strong at that time, and has been since. Doing business here was similar to how mom built her business in California – relationships. Clients want and enjoy the face to face interaction and it was completely different in many ways, but we still focused on those relationships and it worked well.”

As most businesses experienced, COVID was a major turning point in recent months, and Jessica and Rhonda have been pushing through diligently. Jessica explains, “We were doing great this year. We hired a new marketing person this year and we work great together – but then COVID happened. We’re seeing the upswing in things right now but it’s certainly been a hard year. The market this year was super strong to start, and I know it’ll get back to that shortly. Texas has been so resilient. Rhonda adds, “We have rebuilt ourselves so many times, and we trust that coming out of this last chapter we’ll have to make changes, but we remain confident.“

Outside of their professional careers, the mother-daughter duo also have a large passion for animal rescue. Founders of Hay Dude Critter Rescue (because they rescue animals of various types), which they operate on the family ranch just outside of Boerne. Jessica explains, “I started fostering for a rescue group in California before I left. When I got here I got involved with a organization called God’s Dogs Rescue – and in ‘16 I started my own non-profit horse rescue, which ultimately expanded to other animals. We have 106 acres and I’ve always had a passion for horses and so I had no idea there was such a need for equine rescue. Not too long before I started my rescue, a lot of groups got involved with horse slaughter organizations because there was so many unwanted horses – so instead of addressing the issues, they simply put them down. When that was outlawed, there were so many unwanted horses in America – they started shipping them to Mexico where there were no regulations, so we tried to absorb as many as we could to help and to educate the public. We have 17 today and we re-home them or just take care of them. Many are adoptable and some are not.”

Fostering dogs is another passion for the duo, and Jessica continues, “We were still fostering dogs at the same time, and we decided that we have this non profit and we placed 312 dogs into new homes.”

When we would go on vacation we’d always find dogs and we’d bring them home and find homes for them. It’s overwhelming on a good day. We do it because we have a passion for helping people with the agency, and we have a passion for helping these animals – and the rescue kind of merges the two. We’re very picky on the adoptions for all the animals and it’s so rewarding. We’re their last hope and we find them these homes and we get updates on them and stay in touch with them. We can’t save them all, but it’s really important for the ones that we can save. We’re both suffering from compassion fatigue, as we’ve gone through this last chapter, we’ve been focusing on the animals and it’s so hard some days. The stories we go through with the animals can be so hard, yet so rewarding.”

Clearly navigating very full business lives as well as their personal passions, the duo work closely together in their adopted hometown. Rhonda adds, “I love it here so much. I moved here because of that sense of community that is the same as 20 years ago when I was falling in love with it here. Some of the other areas around here are more just sprawl, but Boerne has a town center and a heart and it’s wonderful. I think that people help each other so much here and you can depend on people so much and I love that. It means more to me than most realize.”

Jessica finishes, “Before we finish, I’d like to add that I’m so proud of my mom. I remember when we were in California and I was a young kid and she worked so hard and we were in this tiny little house in this horrible neighborhood and she always told us we’d be ok, and we were. I remember waking up so many nights at 1am and mom was still up working because she had to hustle constantly. At the same time she was at every recital and at every event and it was so heartwarming. And I’ll never forget that and will be forever grateful for it.” Rhonda, wiping away a tear finishes, “It was all just so fun. It was hard, but I assure you that every single step has been beautiful.”

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