A few things about Rick Erling: he’s from the suburbs of Buffalo, he survived the blizzard of 1977 that dumped snow as high as 100 inches in places, he rooted for the Buffalo Bills when they played (and lost – sorry Rick) in four straight Super Bowls and he loves buffalo chicken wings.
Erling began his career in Buffalo as a manufacturing engineer at Textron. In 1991, Erling relocated to Allen for work with Intergraph Corporation. Over the last 26 years, he’s worked in business and corporations of various sizes in sales and marketing, helping sales teams perform more effectively and driving execution in new business development. He also publishes the Town Hall Guide of North Texas, a guide to the best restaurants, services and shopping in Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Plano and surrounding areas of North Texas.
Erling was just named the new president of the Allen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a branch of the Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (TCRHCC). For the last three years, he was president of the McKinney Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He’s been married to his wife, Kerry, for 32 years, and has two sons: Ricky, 28, and Robert, 25.
He sat down to talk with us about his new role, business and CB handles.
I think quite a few people are unaware that the Allen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce exists. How can you raise the awareness of your organization?
Aside from scheduling monthly/weekly networking events, luncheons and workshops that one would expect from a chamber, a big item for us will be National Hispanic Heritage Month. We will begin planning with Allen businesses and community organizations that have an interest in working together with us to recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the U.S. and celebrate their heritage and culture. As an example of past events, our branch chambers have worked together in Frisco with The Texas Legends to have a Hispanic Heritage Night, the McKinney Public Library did Hispanic Heritage month and the city of Denton and University of North Texas have already put large-scale Latino cultural events on the calendar to introduce the culture to the community.
Why not just incorporate your chamber into the Allen-Fairview Chamber of Commerce? Why is there that divide?
It’s interesting that you call it a divide -- that puts even more emphasis on the importance of our mission to bridge that mindset gap today. As one single example of many, most city chambers like Allen-Fairview have created Young Professionals groups to address the pressing need for a group that speaks directly to the needs of the next generation of leaders. However, one item city chambers have overlooked is that the future of Texas is tied not only to Young Professionals, but also to the Latino population. The 2014 purchasing power of Latinos in Texas totaled over $240 billion -- an increase of 634 percent since 1990. Hispanics are expected to outnumber Anglos in Texas by 2020. As these multicultural consumers continue to grow in size and spending power, brands will increasingly need to integrate multicultural insights into core business strategies. The Allen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce should not be looked upon as divided to the Allen-Fairview Chamber, but as a bridge of multicultural insight for how to connect with an additional $240 billion stream of commerce.
The Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said you would help “bridge the gap between the Hispanic and the Anglo business communities.” How do you go about doing that?
Our chamber remains open and accessible to individuals of all backgrounds. We offer programs, workshops, business certification and educational seminars conducted in English and Spanish. Perhaps most importantly, we serve as the conduit to connect and expand Hispanic business opportunities into the non-Hispanic consumer base and educate non-Hispanic business owners of the great economic impact the fastest growing population will have in the near future. As one example, this growing Latino population is impacting perception of their brand, leaving companies wondering how they can market themselves and their products to a more culturally diverse audience.
What can the Hispanic business community offer that is unique to it?
Three words: bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural. You can learn the Spanish or English language in a classroom or even with an app on your phone today and become bilingual. But, becoming bi-literate and bicultural is an experiential experience that can’t be taught in a classroom or with an app. I invite every Hispanic-owned and non-Hispanic business to join our chamber so your company can economically benefit from the Hispanic community’s growth and its tremendous growing purchasing power. Learn more at allenhcc.org or call me at 972-727-6880.
How would you spend your ideal Saturday?
A bluebird day on the slopes at Park City, Utah.
What’s the first car you ever had?
1972 Camaro Rally Sport with a “split bumper.” What I wouldn’t give to have that car back today!
If you could give your 18-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
Time is not a limitless commodity.
Is Tom Brady the best quarterback of all time?
I think his five Super Bowl rings make a pretty bold statement about that.
Name a movie you never get tired of.
If you owned a CB radio, what would your “handle” be?