Three businesses – Cause Labs, The Law Offices of Rosa Maria Berdeja and Game Theory Restaurant and Bar – are the finalists from among 30 nominations for the Rotary Club of Fort Worth Minority Business Awards.

This is the third year for the competition that began when leaders at the club realized they weren’t really engaging with the community as a whole. 

“We certainly weren’t reflecting the community,” said Chris Jordan, founder of Electro Acoustics and a member of the board at the Rotary Club of Fort Worth that year. “Out of about 211 members, we only had seven minority business owners at the time. So, frankly, minority businesses were not part of our club. We were risking becoming irrelevant, really.” 

The idea grew out of a series of meetings the club had initiated by then-president Carlo Capua, now chief of strategy and innovation at the city of Fort Worth. One of those meetings, termed Crucial Conversations, centered around how to better engage with minority businesses. 

Jordan’s 39-year-old company, which designs and installs audio, video and lighting systems for sports facilities, houses of worship, performance venues, corporations, and civic centers, had won many awards over the years and he knew how important those awards were to the business. 

“Those really helped us in terms of being known in the community,” he said. 

Jordan made the proposal of an awards program to highlight minority businesses in Fort Worth. 

The board and the leadership of the club got behind the idea. “They decided to focus on that for 2021,” he said.

Jordan said it was not a mentoring program, but a way to foster relationships with others in the club and in the community. They had 45 nominations the first year.

“We had members call up the companies that were nominated and invite them to Rotary and start to build a relationship,” said Jordan. 

The first year, the winner got a one-year membership to Rotary, a three-minute video and a photo with the mayor. This year, the top three winners will receive a one-year membership and a three-minute video. Other honorees will receive a plaque and can set up in a room to promote their business. It’s a way for the Rotarians to come in and meet these businesses.”

The Rotary Club is an international service organization of businesspeople who raise funds for projects in the community. The Rotary Club of Fort Worth dates back to 1913. 

Samantha Renz, owner of Evolving Texas, a civil engineering and consulting firm and winner of the first year’s RMBA, said the award and video and a photo with the mayor were great, but connecting with the members made a big difference. 

“The best thing about winning the Minority Business Award is the relationships that have come out of it,” she said. 

Richard Knight, chief operating officer of Knight Waste Services, a minority business owner, a previous finalist and now chair of the RMBA Committee, said he sees the awards as important to the community as a whole. 

“I think when everyone is a stakeholder in the community, then everybody comes together,” he said. “I think it’s important that we continue to work together collectively as a community to not only foster proper healthy business relationships, but personal relationships as well.”

It doesn’t mean they all have to agree on everything, he said. 

“If everybody’s getting along on an economic standpoint and personal standpoint, then we can always come to some type of view,” he said. “It  may not be on everything, but at least we have a common ground to come to some compromise.” 

The minority businesses are not the only ones to find value in the awards program. Since implementing the program, the Downtown Rotary club has seen membership jump, from 211 in 2021 to near 300 recently. 

“I think that’s because we’re more relevant,” said Jordan. 

Courtney Lewis, executive vice president of Fort Worth commercial banking at Cadence Bank, and a recent president of the Fort Worth club, said the club has also increased its minority membership.

“I think you have to reflect your community and, while we’re not there, we’re doing a better job of that,” she said.   

Other Rotary Clubs around the country have been interested to learn about how the Downtown Fort Worth club put the program together.

Jordan and others presented a white paper on the program at the Rotary International Convention in Houston earlier this year.

“We’ve had interest from over 40 clubs,” he said. 

The third-annual competition is presented by the Bank of Texas. 

If You Go

Rotary Club of Fort Worth Minority Business Awards 

When: noon, Friday, April 21

Where: The Fort Worth Club

The finalists:

  • Cause Labs: A public benefit corporation that designs custom websites, applications, and platforms. 
  • The Law Offices of Rosa Maria Berdeja: An immigration attorney who helps immigrants get their deportations stopped, clears up their immigration status, and works to attain citizenship. 
  • Game Theory Restaurant and Bar: A great place to eat, drink, and get your game on with a fully curated game library.

The finalists receive a three-minute promotional video produced by Farlow Media, a sponsor of the competition, and valued at $7,500. They also will receive a six-month membership to the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, a $650 value, and promotion at the Rotary Club of Fort Worth and on the Rotary Club of Fort Worth’s Facebook page.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at
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Bob FrancisBusiness Editor

Robert Francis is a Fort Worth native and journalist who has extensive experience covering business and technology locally, nationally and internationally. He is also a former president of the local Society...