Women in Business: A passion for minding their own business

An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

There is an undaunted spirit that is required to take on a business venture, to go beyond, or outside of the relatively safe zone of the employed into the outer infinite and mysterious realm of business ownership. In the instance of these four remarkable businesswomen, they hold certain qualities in common though each is quite different. For one thing, none of them set out to start up a company when first setting foot outside the classroom. Their careers evolved over decades. They all profess a passion for helping others. They all had supportive parents. They each needed more, or something other than what they thought they wanted at the start of their careers.
In each case there was an ignition, an opportunity, a niche inviting them in. They are all standouts in their given field, recognized experts, award winners. Not one of them ever mentioned wanting to make a million dollars. The drive seems to be more related to the passion — or delving into new territories, which includes leadership. They either want to accomplish a goal or fill a need. They enjoy leading their companies and their staffs into the light of excellence.

Being faced with an opportunity could read as a challenge to be met or just the next natural step to take. Not one of them ever declined to take that step. It would have seemed unnatural. There doesn’t seem to be a word for “that’s just too much” in their vocabularies..


Martha Jordan takes pride in developing Subway team members who started at the entry level as she did. She affectionately refers to those as the “underserved,” who may have any level of education, yet they can succeed as long as they exhibit leadership capability. Martha states, “I am also proud to have 18 percent of the company holding tenures of five to 20 years. It’s rewarding, a way of giving it back.”
Martha was born in Harlingen, where her father was stationed in the Air Force. She started working as a “sandwich artist” at a Subway in San Antonio in 1986 while she was attending college and became the manager of her location the same year. Now, 28 years later, she is still with the company, making a model of climbing the corporate ladder. Martha is a partner in business with Rick Riley and Cathy Amato. She began with the purchase of three Subway franchise locations with her partners. The first two are downtown, including the one on Alamo Plaza, which she expanded, and the third is in Houston.

There are currently 58 Subway Restaurants that employ over 500 team members — 180-plus in San Antonio and the surrounding region. Martha says, “Subway is the most economical of franchises.” Martha’s next step up was working for the department of the director of operations development in the South Central Texas Territory, becoming the office manager while she learned the ropes. She was exposed to every aspect of operations from marketing and advertising to development, leasing and construction. Then she became the director of operations and oversees 466 restaurants by working with local franchisees. Martha has held this position for 22 years.

The Subway organization is active in the community and participates either with sponsorships or by making food donations through the local franchisees to such events as the San Antonio Sports Foundation’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and American Heart Association or Subway sponsorship participation in Kids Rock in December and the Valero Texas Open next March. In addition to being a Subway franchisee and director of operations, Martha received a call from corporate, headquartered in Milford, Conn., to serve as the only female on Subway’s advertising board and advisory council committee. She has also been providing input while serving on the 2015 global strategies plan for the last four years. In the past, she served on the Subway/Coca-Cola advisory committee. She has been a member of the local Subway advertising board for over 10 years and is part of the Subway Mega Multiple Unit Owners (MMUO) group with local franchisees that own 50- plus restaurants.

Martha loves the food industry, so even her personal time is spent with food. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their friends, especially on wine junkets. She loves visiting Alaska and traveling to experience different cultures through their love of food and wine. She also tunes in to watch cooking shows on TV. Martha Jordan has a favorite quote from Michael Jordan (no relation): “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.” She is very grateful to her parents and acknowledges her father for instilling a solid work ethic in her — and having pride in what you do. Certainly he is proud of what his daughter is doing.


Kim Stevens had been living in Chicago and working for a Fortune 500 company for 18 years and loved it. Then she learned of a new luxury day spa franchise. Kim says, “I was determined that I needed to branch out on my own and decided a franchise would be the best option for me.” Woodhouse Day Spas really appealed to Kim. She opened her first spa location in Austin and her first San Antonio location at The Quarry Market in 2005. In 2008, she opened another at the Rim at La Cantera. She loves San Antonio, and wanting to pursue the market here, she sold the Austin spa in 2011.

Kim developed the “hotel model” for the Woodhouse franchise and opened two spas on the River Walk in 2011. The first was at the Westin, and the other at the Hotel Contessa. Last year she expanded to the Hill Country La Cantera Resort and also opened a location on Main Street in Boerne. Kim, who now lives in Boerne, says she enjoys having her office near her sixth Woodhouse Day Spa in this area.
Kim is quick to credit her team for the success of the spas, and the success has not gone without notice. She recently became responsible for opening more than 60 Woodhouse franchise locations on the East Coast. She has essentially become the franchisor, developing subfranchisees for the Woodhouse Corporation. Her first sub- franchisee will be in Bethesda, Md. The Woodhouse Corporation has received numerous awards nationwide. American Spa Magazine named Woodhouse Day Spas favorite day spa nationwide in 2012 and 2013, and Inc. Magazine recognized them among America’s fastest-growing private companies. Just this year Entrepreneur Magazine awarded them Franchise 500 top personal service award, and The Franchise Business Review awarded the corporation the 2014 franchise satisfaction award.
San Antonio is consistently awarded top honors with the Woodhouse Corporation, and Kim has been asked to be a speaker at Woodhouse national conventions. They have also been recognized locally. For the past two years they have been noted as best spa and a top workplace in San Antonio by the Express-News, an accolade Kim says she is especially proud of.

Woodhouse Spas was also named 2012 entrepreneur of the year and best spa from 2009 to 2013 by San Antonio Magazine and KENS-TV, as well as best massage, best facial, and other “bests,” and was included among the largest female-owned businesses in San Antonio by the San Antonio Business Journal. Woodhouse Day Spas are quietly involved in their communities and do not wish to benefit from their “pay it forward” donations, including working with Sara Richardson-Paniagua at Fisher House for many years, providing complimentary spa services to the families of wounded soldiers. Kim says, “We believe it is important to help heal the families as well as our brave soldiers, and we are supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project.” They are also longtime supporters of St. Jude Hospital, among other nonprofit causes.
You would think Kim would be too tied down to take much time away from her spa business. Well, maybe you’re right. She loves going places in their motor coach. It has become her “moving office.”


Pamela Potyka Goble and her twin sister were born in Pittsburgh and grew up in San Antonio, graduating from Churchill High School. Following softly in her father’s emergency-room-doctor footsteps, Pam earned her master’s in speech pathology at Baylor University in 1986. She gained 15 years’ experience in her field working in Pennsylvania and moved back to San Antonio in 2008. Pam worked in speech pathology for 25 years before going into business for herself. Her experience was mostly in the school districts and in Home Health Care speech pathology, including the Head Start program. She points to this as the main impetus that “catapulted her to go it on her own.” She was asked to be a partner with Home Health Care in January 2006 as pediatric speech pathologist. In December 2009, Pam bought out her partner and established Ability Pediatric Therapy, Inc. Now she is sole owner, president and CEO. She says she “is a very involved CEO in a well-oiled machine.” She keeps in good working order herself by exercising with a trainer three times a week.

Pam is passionate about the success of Ability Pediatric Therapy and attributes a great deal of it to the staff’s love for their 1,000 patients. She says, ”It’s fun to grow.” They have fun in their office environment and even have a “fun bell” to ring when something upbeat, positive or otherwise worthy of a bell ringing happens. Pam is happy and excited to be in this business and adds, “I find working behind a desk is not as limiting as I thought it would be.” Her participation in the Head Start program in 2007 gave Ability Pediatric Therapy its first sizable contract. It was to provide 88 pediatric therapists and evaluate home health Medicaid children and families as to the appropriate therapies needed. Pam often got attached to the families and the patients receiving the therapies. Their services cover speech, occupational and physical therapies — diversifying for the families in the home and in their first-rate clinic.
Since 2007 Pam has also owned a clinic in Houston, Ability All for Kids, with eight employees. There are 90 therapists employed by Ability Pediatric Therapy in San Antonio. Combined, they have 125 employees.

Ability Pediatric Therapy has established a reputation for excellent customer and employee services and is very much involved in the community, operating pediatric therapy services for Communicare S.A. on the West Side. The Spurs have their Coyote mascot. Have you met the Ability Pediatric Therapy mascot, Sandy the Yorkie, who is named after Pam’s own little furry friend? Sandy, the mascot, is on hand to greet the children at fundraising events around town such as Any Baby Can and Pre-K 4 S.A., one of Mayor Castro’s initiatives for services to children. There are two quotes that Pam likes to refer to for encouragement: “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” Gary Player; and “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” John C. Maxwell.

In July 2010, Pam won the Business Achievement Award from the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and last year her company was recognized by the San Antonio Express-News as one of the top workplaces in San Antonio. There was probably a lot of bell ringing when they heard that news traveling through the Ability Pediatric Therapy offices.


This woman’s entrepreneurial spirit was born of necessity. As a single mother, Jennifer Scroggins had to deal with many financial issues. Her 20-year financial services professional career came alive working with other women having similar financial challenges and possibly intimidated by them. There is a lot of emotion around the decision-making process. Jennifer was going to pursue a teaching career, but at age 22, she was quickly promoted at the Dallas bank where she was working. Part of her role as regional sales manager was teaching bankers how to build relationships and offer services. In 1992 she received her securities licensing and is currently studying for a Retirement Income Certified Professional designation.

“Women in all sorts of situations — divorced, widowed, high-end executive, professionals and business-owners — want to be independent and knowledgeable about their financial well-being,” says Jennifer. She feels she has “a talent and passion for teaching and building relationships in support of other women. I am intimately involved with each client’s financial plan.”
She says, “I chose Platinum Wealth Solutions of Texas. It was important for me to seek out a broker dealer with technology, marketing and staff at a fair cost.” She continues, “The distinguishing factor was the way they treat their advisors like family. They are invested in our future just as much as we are. I learned every financial service business is the same.” Jennifer explains, “What people need to understand about my business as a franchise is there is no seed money to get started. However, there is a period of nine to 12 months before you turn a profit, and it takes commitment, hard work and long hours. It’s networking, getting involved in the community and defining a clear market that you relate to that can help others meet their goals with passion. Of course, you need to have the credentials, the education to back it up. When you do that consistently and effectively, while keeping the clients’ needs first, you can be successful in this business/franchise.” All that commitment and long hours have paid off. Now Jennifer has more time for personal pursuits. She is training, “hopefully” she says, for the 2015 Boston Marathon and runs 7 miles a day and plays softball, too. She is also involved in a number of organizations and with her family.

Jennifer believes, “It is because of the independence I have running my own business that I have been able to be the active mother I wanted to be.” All three of her children are competitive athletes as well as top scholars. Zack Scroggins is working in the oil and gas industry. Ashley Hawkins is attending the University of Southern California, majoring in engineering and film. Megan Hawkins plays tennis for Reagan High School and is already talking about following in her mother’s footsteps in the financial industry. Jennifer says, “My greatest influencer is my mom, who was admitted to Rice University with a full scholarship, which she gave up to raise me. When my dad returned from military duty in Japan, Mom went to work at the state Department of Insurance and eventually became the highest-ranking female in the IBM manufacturing plant. I am my mom made over.”

By Carolyn Seldon Lay
Photography by Case Howell

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