Mercedes Natives Take Leadership Roles At Iconic Company
Joanna Ybarra and Amanda Brewer are Mercedes born-and-raised.
Their connections run deep in one of Mercedes’ more iconic companies. The boots made at Rios of Mercedes are shipped around the country – and world – and its line of boots are made to fit for working cowboys and customers wearing them casually for dances and more formally for office settings.
The boots and cowboy imagery is big to the community of Mercedes. It’s shown in the 30 cowboy boot statutes seen throughout the city on street corners. The public art of the boots when combined with the yearly staging of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in Mercedes points to the western heritage of the city.
Rios of Mercedes is a big part of that heritage in the city. Ybarra and Brewer have grown up in that heritage and work in partnership with each other.
Ybarra is the accounting manager at Rios of Mercedes Boot Company. She is the daughter of one of Rios’ foremost boot makers and production experts – Art Jilpas – and began working at the company while still a student as Mercedes High School. She has made her own mark, working her way up, learning from mentors and working in a family-like atmosphere where so many like her are from Mercedes.
She’s is part of a younger generation of leaders at Rios of Mercedes that is stepping up in management as company founders Trainor Evans and Pat Moody scale back oversight of operations to those groomed to take their places. Ybarra has seen in her 15 years at Rios a change to greater use of technology, a transition that become more pronounced with new chief executive officer Ryan Vaughan and Clayton Evans, the chief financial officer.
“It’s been a good change for me as part of the younger generation coming up at the company,’’ she said, noting the recent retirement of her longtime boss, Aurora Flores, who worked at Rios for 40 years.
Brewer was also mentored by Flores. She is the accounts receivable and credit analyst for the company. From her desk, she sees the national reach of the Mercedes-based company in working with Rios retailers from around the country. The company ships out about 75,000 pairs of boots from Mercedes every year – and another 100,000 pair made in Mexico with its operations there.
The Rios way, she said, remains the same, with the lessons of their elders firmly in mind.
“We’re held to a high standard here,’’ said Brewer, who has worked at Rios for 16 years and lives just blocks away from the Mercedes boot factory. “We don’t want to let them down.’’
– Ricardo D. Cavazos