The Balance of the Power Couple
By Meredith Kay
Photography by David Teran
Ask any couple who works together what makes their partnership successful, and you might get many different answers, but for three local San Antonio couples, the common thread that runs through their stories is respect for one another and never losing sight that their relationship always comes first.
Herb & De Havalan Watts
Herb From the Curb Gourmet BBQ Sauce
They say that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, and for Herb and De Havalan Watts, life has taken some interesting turns during their 32-year marriage. Their story began in the second grade. They both attended Tynan Elementary on the east side, and Herb was smitten with De Havalan from the start, but he was too shy to really speak to her.
It wasn’t until high school that he worked up the nerve to ask her to the military ball when he was a student athlete at T.M.I. She said yes, and they remained friends keeping in touch through letters after Herb joined the Army and shipped off to Korea. They finally began dating when he returned home, and they were married in 1990.
Herb began his career in the warehouse at H-E-B and then moved into a security role at the San Antonio Airport before landing a job with Southwest Airlines as a baggage handler. This is where his nickname, “Herb from the Curb,” came from.
Herb has built friendly relationships with frequent passengers over the years, but he always dreamed of owning his own business. The couple moved to Floresville to build their home in 2001, and together they raised their son, Herb III (29) and De Havalan II (26).
Herb recalls stopping off at a local Floresville barbecue restaurant one day when the owner asked him if he wanted to buy the place. The couple decided to take a leap of faith and eventually renamed it Watts BBQ. De Havalan called her mother to ask for ideas to create a new barbecue sauce recipe, and it was met with rave reviews from customers. In fact, it became so popular that the couple began to bottle the sauce as well. Herb made it well known that his goal was to eventually mass-produce the sauce and make a name for it, and when the restaurant closed, they continued to fine-tune their recipe, cleaning up the ingredients to make it healthier.
One day, Herb was talking to a frequent passenger about his plans, and the man promised to put him in touch with a product development specialist at H-E-B. The grocery store executive saw something special in the couple, and they set them up to distribute their barbecue sauce in 150 stores to start.
Today, Herb From the Curb gourmet BBQ Sauce features a Spicy Mesquite sauce and a Sweet-n-Tangy Hickory sauce. When asked what the secret has been to working together successfully, they will tell you that it is imperative to listen to one another and to seek help when faced with challenges that could threaten the relationship. Herb says that it was a church counselor that told them early on in their endeavor, “This company can fail. Your marriage cannot.” They both took this advice to heart, and this commitment to their dream and to each other has led to their growing success. In fact, their barbecue sauce was named one of H-E-B’s favorite products of the year for 2021, so the future is most definitely looking very sweet – and a little spicy – for Herb and De Havalan Watts.
Doug & Latina Isaacks
Krysus Human Performance & Recovery
For the men and women that serve our country in the military, active duty can take its toll on the human body. Military personnel are required to remain in excellent physical condition, but even the strongest soldiers require a respite from the physicality of their professions so that their bodies can rest and recover, just like athletes. It was this realization and thorough research into the correlation between human performance and recovery that led one dynamic and ambitious couple to create not only a business but a haven for those going through physical and psychological trauma.
Doug and Latina Isaacks met early in their military career while stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. Doug was born and raised in Southern California, and Latina was brought up in Kansas City. They both began their military career in the security forces, but Doug later trained and transitioned into Pararescue, becoming a parajumper, which is an elite team of medically trained soldiers who risk their lives to save others in humanitarian and combat environments.
When the couple transitioned from active duty to reserve duty, they both began to conceptualize a way that they could help other career military men and women recover from years of physical damage to their bodies. Doug, specifically, suffered through years of back pain from repeated parajumper landings, and in 2009 they founded Rescue Athlete, which later became Guardian Premier Solutions, providing innovative training, education, and research in optimizing human performance to military and tactical communities. This practice allowed them to realize that the same psychological and physical stressors affect those outside of the military as well, and they began to look into ways to help anyone needing a physical recovery program.
The idea for Krysus Human Performance and Recovery was launched when Doug and Latina experienced a flotation chamber treatment in Austin. The treatment was so successful for Doug’s back pain that the couple decided to create a multi-faceted recovery clinic in San Antonio. The clinic is located in the Alamo Ranch area and features four different recovery treatment solutions available to anyone experiencing severe stress and pain from injuries, illness, or trauma. Treatments offered include: Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy, Whole-Body Red-Light, Flotation Therapy, and Dry Salt Therapy, or Halotherapy.
When asked how their recovery programs can help, Latina states, “Our recovery treatments are capable of affecting people’s lives in a visible way. Krysus is a place where anyone can come to destress and heal.”
Doug and Latina have two sons, Christian (25) and Kadin (21), who are currently learning the business, and they have very clear goals for how they want to expand and bring the gift of healing, recovery, and increased human performance to everyone.
Mike & Molly Sowry
In order to build something great, you must always start with a solid foundation. This is as true in construction as it is in life, and one San Antonio couple has mastered this principle to create not only a thriving home improvement business but also a successful marriage for 28 years.
Mike and Molly Sowry are the owners of Virtuoso Builders, specializing in home remodels with high-end designer features. They have been in business since 2001, and together they continue to put customer service as the number one priority when working with homeowners and trade partners alike to make remodeling dreams come true.
Mike, originally from Dallas, is a graduate of U.T. Austin. Molly is a native San Antonian, attended Clark High School, and is a graduate of the University of Arizona. The couple met at a wedding in San Antonio during Molly’s senior year of college. Mike had come down from Dallas to attend the wedding of a friend, and Molly was a bridesmaid.
They were married and living in Austin when Mike took a leap of faith and told Molly that he wanted to start his own remodeling company. He was working in the lighting industry at the time, and Molly was working for an advertising agency. They relocated to San Antonio and began their new venture with grassroots marketing, asking friends and family for referrals, and introducing the company with holiday gift bags full of branded specialty items.
Virtuoso Builders has built a stellar reputation in the San Antonio area with their hands-on approach to working closely with the homeowners who contract them. Mike and Molly take the meetings themselves, working to uncover the homeowners’ wishes and realizing those wishes with careful planning, bi-weekly progress meetings, and managed expectations.
The couple works in tandem, but they are very good at setting boundaries with their clients in order to maintain their work/life balance. Molly says, “We strive to maintain mutual respect with our clients. We have to make sure that we are a good fit for each other because our crews will be in their homes for extended periods of time, and that can get pretty personal.”
When you ask the couple how they have managed to remain so successful, they both respond, “You have to have a shared end goal, even though each person may do the same job differently. You have to trust each other to make the right decisions for the good of the company. The partnership is in the checks and balances.”
Virtuoso Builders has the team and the trade partners to orchestrate the perfect home remodel, and their client testimonials speak volumes. Mike and Molly work closely with each individual homeowner in a way that creates a symbiotic relationship for everyone involved. They truly listen to what the homeowner wants, how they live in their space, and what they want the end result to look like. They are also masters of social media marketing and have their own YouTube channel with two monthly original video series, “Remodel Your Thinking” and “Behind the Drywall.”