Rogue Vela discovered bowling in the 1970s. Hooked, he bought a bowling ball, joined seven leagues – and purchased 15% of Laredo’s Jett Bowling Lanes Inc. stock. Soon the military veteran became the company’s general manager and assisted with the construction of Pla-Mor Sports Center, a family entertainment facility that was ahead of its time. By 1979, Vela and his wife, Cookie, became the owners of Jett Bowling, Inc. and Pla-Mor Sports Center, Inc.
Over the next 40 years, the Velas guided the company’s evolution in meeting the needs of a rapidly changing community. The company’s latest innovation involves constructing a new state-of-the-art Pla-Mor Entertainment LLC. The new facility is being made possible through an SBA 504 loan with the assistance of Armando Ruiz, Texas Certified Development Company (TxCDC) and Falcon International Bank.
Vela commissioned a feasibility study in 2014 that determined that a family entertainment center would thrive in northeast Laredo. Banker (and fellow bowler) Alonzo Ramirez then encouraged Vela to consider an SBA 504 loan with a low fixed-interested rate. However, Vela initially wasn’t thrilled with the idea because of the required paperwork. Two of Vela’s advisors – Webb County Judge Mercurio Martinez and Texas A&M International University Small Business Development Center’s Angelo Piccirillo — encouraged Vela to reconsider and introduced him to Ruiz.
The TxCDC consultant’s expertise impressed Vela. Ruiz also described how he could make the application process painless. Vela found Ruiz’s offer was too good to pass up.
Vela remembers one of his earliest visits to the bowling center in the early 1970s when his then-infant daughter Yvonne was not well cared for in the facility’s babysitting area. That incident informs Vela’s commitment to ensuring that every customer – from the very youngest to the oldest – is treated with the greatest respect
Now Yvonne works with her brother, Roque Jr., and her oldest daughter, Alexandra, as well as her parents – who were named recipients of the 2017 SBA Regional Minority Owned Business of the Year Award — in running the business. The family sees Ruiz and TxCDC’s staff as part of their extended family. “Without Armando, we wouldn’t have been able to do an SBA loan,” Vela said. “They walked us through every step and took care of us like we were family.”