Award Recipients

The Translational Health Research Center at Texas State University is honored to announce seven recipients of the first-ever GRIT Awards.

The GRIT Awards recognize small businesses across the state of Texas that demonstrated resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winner Profiles

Achieve Integrative Health


Cedar Park, TX

Achieve Integrative Health is an acupuncture clinic in Cedar Park, Texas, that specializes in neurological conditions, chronic pain relief, and supportive cancer care. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Achieve Integrative Health developed a new business model for medical clinics by embracing social media and remote work. Achieve owner, Jimmy Yen, leveraged social media to educate his patients and, as a result, developed an online presence of over 1 million followers on multiple platforms. The clinic shifted to a remote-work model while continuing to serve patients in person and increasing its team from 2 to 20 team members. Despite the pandemic, the clinic has grown by 45% and is now the largest acupuncture clinic in the Austin Metro Area.   

Owner: Jimmy Yen

Industry: Healthcare

Achieve Integrative Health team smile for a photo at lunch

HillDay Public Relations, Inc.


Houston, TX

HillDay is an independent, full-service public relations consulting agency, which uses unique strategies that integrate multi-channel business communication and project management support services in order to position clients for success in any market.

HillDay Public Relations is an example to other small businesses about how business experience and personal connections can be parlayed into a thriving, resilient business. This public relations firm offers a niche service to commercial construction companies that work with government-funded contracts. As the owner of HillDay Public Relations, Argentina James has fostered trust and developed strong, enduring relationships with her clients and the communities they serve. As a result of her efforts, the firm experienced their greatest period of growth and prosperity during the pandemic.

Owner: Argentina M. James

Industry: Public relations agency



Sherman, TX

TekWav is an internet service provider based in Sherman, Texas, that offers clients the quality of a large company with the support of a locally-owned, community-focused business.

TekWav addressed an immediate and critical need during the COVID-19 pandemic by finding an innovative way to provide internet access for their community, including local underserved and rural areas. TekWav owner, JJ McGrath, generously shared best practices he developed with other service providers who were struggling to meet customer demands during this challenging time. The innovation and generosity of TekWav provided access to a critical resource that kept communities connected, informed, and engaged during the pandemic.

Owner: JJ McGrath

Industry: Internet service provider

TekWav owner, JJ McGrath, headshot
A. Miller Consulting Services team poses for a photo on Microsoft Teams

A. Miller Consulting Services


Carrollton, TX

A. Miller Consulting Services (MCS) is a certified woman-owned, small business that provides technical writing, regulatory compliance, and records management services to the energy and engineering industries.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, MCS had a culture of cross-training and collaboration to support the ebb and flow of projects, priorities, and life events. This established culture enabled their staff to share and learn new skills, pitch in, expand opportunities, and handle administrative hurdles throughout the pandemic. Led by owner Amy Miller, team members were motivated to collaborate and to learn new skills during this pandemic, which ultimately allowed MCS to emerge with additional services being offered, increased supplier diversity, and opportunities in new business sectors.

Owner: Amy Miller

Industry: Professional services

E Contractors


Sugar Land, TX

E Contractors provides services for commercial and municipal construction projects and has developed a reputation as one of the most trusted general contractors in the Houston area given their steadfast commitment to their clients and employees.

The principal of E Contractors, Irfan Abji, understands that resilience requires putting core values to action when faced with adversity. For E Contractors, dependability is a core value. During Hurricane Harvey, employees of E Contractors delivered resources and found housing for those in need. During the pandemic, they used new technologies to coordinate their team and ensure projects not only continued but were completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The E Contractors’ team is undoubtably dependable and an example of “True Texas Grit.”

Owner: Irfan Abji & Maria A. Cobas

Industry: Contractors


Salon One 12


Buda, TX

Salon One 12 is a full-service hair salon that focuses on perfecting the client’s experience by making guests feel beautiful, creating a space where positivity is shared, and working to strengthen the community.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Salon One 12 quickly pivoted to ensure the safety of staff and clients while incorporating new approaches to continue and expand their services. Founder and owner, Rebecca Acosta-Ojeda, recognized the importance of adapting to frequent changes. With her team members, Salon One 12 leveraged the power of social media to remain connected with clients, developed new ways to offer services (including delivering customized care packages), and launched an e-commerce venture. She now shares her experience by educating other salon owners and continues to find ways to elevate the company’s culture and quickly adapt to new opportunities.

Owner: Rebecca Acosta-Ojeda

Industry: Beauty salon

Texas Tito's, Inc.


New Braunfels, TX

Texas Tito’s is an innovative leader in food manufacturing that ships products worldwide, using foods that are locally grown, processed, and packaged in Texas.

Texas Tito’s entered the COVID-19 pandemic with an existing continuity plan, which allowed the company to continue operations and navigate substantial business interruptions caused by the pandemic. With the foresight of their leadership, a pandemic-specific plan was developed to address staffing shortages and social distancing. These plans allowed Texas Tito’s to fill service gaps and continue providing high-quality products when other businesses were unable.

Owner: Chris Snider

Industry: Food manufacturing


Join us for the GRIT Showcase | April 25, 2023

Join us to celebrate our winners at the GRIT Showcase on April 25, 2023.

All are invited to attend; RSVP information to come.

GRIT Winners receive the following benefits:

1) Featured in our state-wide showcase event to share their story with the business community.

2) Access to a network of small businesses in Texas and variety of resources to grow their business and build economic resilience.

3) Media to share their story and promote your business, including a professional video, press release, and social media content.