Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
It wasn’t an “ah ha” moment, nor was it something Pilar Gonzalez thought about doing, but in 2006 it all came together, and now she is the owner of Dip It by Pilar and a successful woman-owned, all-female-employee food packaging company.
The 56-year-old is a former Emmy-nominated radio and television news producer and local weekend news anchor who left the journalism business to follow her entrepreneurial spirit and it was South Texas College, among other local organizations that she said played a large role in her success.
“I was getting opportunities I never thought possible,” said Gonzalez. “But as someone fairly new to the industry, I had a lot to learn and STC was my foundation.”
For a while, Gonzalez was content selling her dips in every flavor such as cilantro, chipotle, cream cheese and jalapeño, to only family and friends, including to the new owner of her former restaurant, which she sold during the pandemic.
But as time passed and her dips became more popular, she seized an opportunity through the Mission Economic Development Corporation and was named a 2014 Ruby Red Ventures award winner, earning a large cash prize. She’s gone on to win this award twice.
“This kickstarted my new career,” said Gonzalez. “And it was also through this opportunity that I met the people from STC that would help operate my expanding business.”
She used her prize money to expand her operations and she began working with STC’s Workforce and Continuing Education departments to get trained and certified in the areas such as QuickBooks and pneumatics.
“I had access to so many resources, even grants and scholarships, it was invaluable and unbelievable,” she said. “With people like Leonel Garcia, Esmeralda Adame and Ernesto Avila leading teams at STC, the college is bringing people like me together, to improve our communities and our opportunities.”
Gonzalez is referring to Garcia, STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing training manager, Adame, Ph.D., an STC associate professor of Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Avila, the STC Institute for Advanced Manufacturing training specialist.
As Gonzalez trained, she continued growing her business and entering contests like
H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best contest, earning second place and getting her product on the H-E-B shelves of 200 stores across Texas.
She is also a member of the H-E-B Million Dollar Club, meaning she has reached more than $1 million dollars in sales for the chain.
“Never did I think that my dips would be sold at a major grocery retailer, it wasn’t even a goal, but opportunities and people aligned at just the right moment and from that, success found me,” said Gonzalez.
With her training and her success, Gonzalez has also taken on the industry of food packaging, moving her business in Mission into a new era and earning “Woman Owned Small Business of the Year” by the U. S. Small Business Administration of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
“I took a leap of faith and I’m grateful for everyone who helped me get to where I am,” said Gonzalez. “Everyone has helped me accomplish my goals and has encouraged me to push the envelope, but because I’m a true believer of education, STC is how I’m going to pay it forward, first by ensuring my team receives the training they need and hopefully one day, sharing my talents with the students of STC.”
Gonzalez has been meeting with STC President Ricardo Solis and Culinary Arts Chair Angela Barrera to look for opportunities for the local entrepreneur to share her experience with current students. Gonzalez said it’s all part of giving back to STC.
To learn more about the industry training offered by STC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education departments, visit southtexascollege.edu.