Casas De Reyes Features Mercedes’ Own Fixer Uppers
Growing up on north Vermont Street in Mercedes, Maria Carmen Reyes saw firsthand what it takes to own and run a business as the daughter of a shopkeeper.
Garcia’s Grocery Store was the business and Petrita Garcia as the owner and proprietor kept things straight and her children busy working at the store. It doubled as their home with their residence attached to the store as the backdrop to the family enterprise. Maria Carmen’s father, Leonardo, was involved in construction work, and so taken together – the store and construction – she had had two building blocks that would never leave her.
Maria Carmen would go on to a 30-year career in education as a teacher and coach at three school districts, including a long stint for the Mercedes school district. When her teaching career came to an end in 2008, she had an epiphany as to what her next chapter would be.
“I want to build homes,’’ she announced to her husband, Jimmy, at a family dinner.
He had no doubt his wife meant it. Jimmy describes Maria Carmen as the type of person that “when she puts her mind to do something, she does it.’’
And so, she has, with the support of her husband, establishing the Mercedes-based Casas De Reyes, with a focus on building and remodeling homes in the Mid-Valley, although the range of their business has gone as far west as Edinburg and to the east and Brownsville. Maria Carmen and Jimmy where fixer uppers before other couples became television stars doing the same thing.
“She sees a project before anyone else does in seeing what it will look like,’’ Jimmy said of his wife.
It’s a partnership built on a clear understanding of the roles each plays.
“She’s the president and I manage the workers,’’ said Jimmy, who worked at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg for nearly 30 years before retiring to be his wife’s assistant.
They most enjoy helping younger couples through the home building process. Casas De Reyes focuses on a few homes at a time so the company president and her manager can spend plenty of time with their clients.
“I tell our clients, it’s now how much money you spend, it’s how much you can get out of your money,’’ Maria Carmen said. “For us, it’s about helping people and improving their lives.’’
The homes they build are custom made, “no cookie cutters,’’ Jimmy said, “with any question being a good question.’’
The reward comes at the end, just as it does on television with the celebrity fixer uppers who have less experience at the craft then the couple behind Casas De Reyes.
“Our reward is at the end of the project and seeing the experiences on their faces,’’ Maria Carmen said.
-Ricardo D. Cavazos