The 2022 Laredo Business Hall of Fame honored the Asmussen family, Hank and Elizabeth Sames, and Gerald Schwebel

Laredo is a city where many businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, and Thursday evening at the Laredo Country Club, some of the city’s most distinguished minds were honored. 

The 2022 Laredo Business Hall of Fame honored three individuals and families for their major contributions to the community and the local business world.

The new laureates for the Hall of Fame included: the Asmussen family, Hank and Elizabeth Sames, and Gerald Schwebel.

The event was a little more special this year for those honored after it had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic. All of the laureates truly felt honored for the experience.


“This is real nice, as it is something that you never expect,” Keith Asmussen, owner and trainer of the Asmussen Horse Center, said.

Marilyn Asmussen, who is Keith’s wife, says the recognition for the whole family was something in the making for two years, as they were aware of and had been waiting for the recognition due to COVID.

“It was delayed from 2020, so we have known about it for two years,” she said. “But we are so thrilled. If this would have happened two years ago, our whole family would have probably not been able to make it, but now all things worked out this way and we are here.”

The Asmussens’ horse, Epicenter, competed this past weekend at the 2022 Kentucky Derby, entering as the overall favorite with 4-to-1 odds for the sport’s biggest race of the year. Epicenter took second overall after a stunning win by Rich Strike, the second-biggest longshot in Derby history to win at 80-to-1.

Following the race, the family already has its tickets ready to go to the 2022 Preakness Stakes that will be held in Baltimore, Maryland later this month. 

The Sames family was equally proud of their honor from the Laredo Business Hall of Fame. They said it is something they hope shows not how they contribute to the community but rather displaying to others how helping the community is a good thing to prioritize. 

“We are very proud, as our family has been in Laredo for 110-plus years,” Elizabeth Sames, president of the Sames Auto Group and Director of the Laredo Area Community Foundation, said. “We have always thought that it is important to give back to the community, and this is about honoring us for giving back to the community. (The award) is not the reason why we give back, as we give back because it makes us feel good.”

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Elizabeth Sames — who said she prefers the titles of wife, mother, bookclub member, tennis court organizer and grandmother of 14 — was also proud to share the honor with her husband, Hank.

“It is a big honor, a very big honor, and we are humbled that they choose us,” she said. “But we do what we do because it comes from our heart, and we want to give back to our community that has been very good to us.”

Hank Sames said in the future, they are looking to further expand their business sites as they “are firm believers in Laredo,” especially now that their daughter, Evelyn, is at the helm of the company. 

“Laredo is going to grow, and our plan for Laredo is that we grow with Laredo and take it to the next level,” Hank said. 

Schwebel was the other individual recognized for his outstanding work. And the Executive Vice President of the International Bank of Commerce was credited for making the area internationally recognized in the business world and working to bring many infrastructure efforts to the city.

“I am very humbled and honored to be among the Asmussen family and the Sames family, as it is quite an honor to be included amongst them,” Schwebel said. 

Schwebel, who is involved in many business projects in the community and also across the state and in Mexico, said he has earned the knowledge he has now in the business world because he finds what he does fun. He said he is fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of good people in his life and at his company. 

“You’ve got to have a passion, you’ve got to be positive and you’ve got to be willing to give back to the community that has given you so much, and I value that a lot,” Schwebel said. “I am fortunate of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, which I was raised in both cities, has given me so much, and whatever I can do to make it better is what I strive for.”

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Schwebel’s son, Gerry Schwebel Jr. — a software engineer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — said he is inspired by the recognition given to his father, as he is someone equally at home the same as in public. He says he has learned many valuable lessons from his father, but the most important has been that of respecting others.

“I think respecting others is something that I have always kept with me, as he is a very humble person. And I think people are drawn to that, and people respect that,” Schwebel Jr. said. “He has been a staple for me and someone that I have always looked up to.”

The three distinguished laureates also offered advice to any aspiring individual or child wanting to get into the business world. 

“It is important to find something that you are passionate about and follow your dreams, as our two sons are really an example of that. One of them is a leading rider in France, and Steven is a leading trainer in North America and has a lot of races won,” Marilyn Asmussen said. “They are very passionate and dedicated at what they do, and they are very successful at it.”

Hank Sames said in efforts for somebody to prosper in the business world, one must be willing to work any type of job. He said they must never get too comfortable and always try to get that promotion or raise, because that is how they will know their worth. He said they must also know when it is time for them to branch out into the business world alone.

“Entrepreneurship is something it is easy and yet a hard thing, because you can have this bright idea in your head and what you want to do, but you have to have the perseverance to stick it out,” Elizabeth Sames said. “If you are going to open your new business, it is going to take a while as you are not going to become a success overnight, and you have to stick with it and persevere through it in the good times and the bad times.

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“We have been in business for over 110 years now, and there has been a lot of ups and downs. There has been times when the business was great, there were times when we thought that the business was not going to make it — like the devolution of the pesos in the 1980s, the 2008 economic disaster. My advice is to persevere.”

And for his part, Schwebel says there “are many more dreams to come” and that his work is not done yet. He plans to assist with the construction of new bridges, the Binational River Park, highways and other international projects that only make Laredo a stronger and better city for all. 

“I often say that I might not be the smartest guy in the room, but I will be the hardest working guy in the room, and that’s for sure,” Schwebel said. “Hard work ethic, positive attitude, strive for excellence, be humble, understand that God will be your guide and have faith that you will succeed in everything that comes before you. Take on the challenges, raise your hand and volunteer and be part of the community, and give back and engage in everything and the processes on whatever it is that impacts your life. Don’t wait for others to do it, you have to step in and get involved.”

For 26 years, since 1994, the Laredo Business Hall of Fame has annually paid tribute to the most esteemed business leaders of the community. The laureates are considered distinguished because of their contributions to the betterment of Laredo through business excellence, vision, innovation, inspiring leadership and for their service to the community. 

All proceeds collected at the Laredo Business Hall of Fame benefit the Junior Achievement’s economic education programs in the Laredo area.