Before going in depth into the 2018 Mineral Wells Index Woman and Man of the Year, sponsored by Diamond Pharmacy, some caveats are important to note.
An economic rejuvenation of the city, especially the central business district, has been a work in progress for several years involving dozens of people planning and executing those plans and visions to bring Mineral Wells out of a decade-long slump and slumber.
Certainly you have to give credit to former Mayor Mike Allen and his legacy project Envision Mineral Wells. That was later taken on by the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce, to the point the chamber reorganized and amended its bylaws around Envision Mineral Wells implementation. One of the main focal points of EMW is downtown redevelopment.
Mineral Wells city staff and current and past city councils have worked and invested city resources in plans, designs and improvements for the city's central business district. A streetscaping project downtown is expected to begin sometime after the first of the year.
Credit goes to people like Jacy Roach, who took ideas from Envision Mineral Wells to help create and organize Merry Wells and Spooky Wells. The three events to date have attracted thousands of people each time downtown to explore, visit and see what is often overlooked and unknown along Oak Avenue and the downtown side streets.
Then there are the business owners downtown, some who for years and years have hung on by their fingernails, waiting for a spark and rebirth. Some are relatively newer ventures, helping keep downtown from going completely "ghostal," like The Kraze, Merrimac & North, Fresh & Fruity Bouquets and Bakery & Delicatessen, 940 Vapes, All-Star Athletics and the very popular and successful Brazos Market & Bistro.
Yes, there have been recent signs of life, a small pulse, in downtown thanks to some brave investors and business hopefuls. But it is Randy and Nix who not only awakened a sleeping giant, but pulled off the covers, rolled him out of bed and kicked his rear into gear. For that, they are the 2018 Index Man and Woman of the Year, receiving nominations from many who contacted the Index.
Without the Nixes efforts, and their personal investments, the citizens of Mineral Wells would likely still be waiting and wondering about the Baker Hotel, hoping the project might begin one day, or one year, to provide an economic rejuvenation. Thanks to the Nixes, and now other downtown investors who have joined in, the downtown's future no longer hinges on the Baker Hotel project.
There is such momentum now that not even local negativity – some incredibly directed at the Nixes – can stop it. There is no burning it down and rebuilding it. The rebuilding is well under way and Randy and Misty Nix have taken the bull by its horns and are leading the charge.
Not only have they purchased and redeveloped, or are in the process or redeveloping, a number of downtown properties – most notably the Crazy Water Hotel – putting in new stores and businesses to create a diverse, eclectic and more upscale downtown experience, they want the rising waters they are creating to lift all businesses and owners. They are working with businesses up and down the thoroughfare to cross-promote and send visitors and shoppers along the main drag in search of what to buy, eat and browse.
With their ventures like The Market @ 76067 and its collection of individual boutiques, and Coffee and Cocktails @ 76067, they are also giving others their own opportunities at business growth and success.
"You see what you see, but beyond that they are really good people,"said Christie Rucker, who with partner Wes Franklin recently opened Coffee and Cocktails @ 76067 at the corner of West Hubbard Street and North Oak Avenue. "I get emotional talking about it because they have been my mentors for the last five years. They have shown me the way. When we first met I was having a rough time, was going through a divorce. They helped me through that. Helpful doesn't even begin to describe these people."
Rucker helped the Nixes oversee and manage their Chicken Express enterprises in Oklahoma as well as other business concerns under their NSC Properties umbrella. Rucker said the Nixes built themselves up from doing lawn care and installing irrigation systems, to acquiring residential and commercial properties and then into the fast-food restaurant business.
Zeke Dorr narrates one of the videos about the planned renovation and reopening of the Crazy Water Hotel by a group of investors that have for…
"They are self-made people, 100 percent," Rucker said. "They were mowing yards. They would mow yards then sit on the side of the road and sell landscaping stuff until it was gone. Then they would go and enjoy a night at the lake. They are definitely self made. They know what they want. He is an entrepreneur and a true businessman and I look up to him. He has been a father-figure in my life the last several years."
Rucker doesn't believe downtown Mineral Wells would be what it is today, and what it is destined to become, without Randy and Misty Nix.
"Randy is a huge accountable person," said Rucker. "I don't think it would be happening if he wasn't there. He is going to make sure it's going to get done. I have seen him write goals down on a weekly basis. He tells me to write my goals down, and tells me to mark them off and go back and look for those notes to give yourself reminders. Randy is a driver. He knows how to drive people. He will get it done. He has taught me a lot."
Franklin agreed, saying he has learned much from Nix, not just about business, but about life.
"He is big on nobody is perfect and learning from your mistakes," Franklin said. "Owning your mistakes. I have learned that. Knowing him for the past four years and getting to see their working relationship and him being by her side and watching it all happen, I have really learned to own it. As a couple they are very powerful. Everybody sees Randy as the front man with what is going on ... but she carries a lot of his weight. That is how you make it work."
The Nixes left Mineral Wells for a shirt time but eventually returned. From his office looking out on S.E. 1st Street, he created a vision in his mind of what downtown could be and contemplated how he could get it started. He began with what was right in front of him – buying the building across the street and renovating it. It now occupies All-Terrain Fitness. It was just the beginning.
But in the story he tells, he was unaware of the planning and efforts by many until his rental properties manager Kelli Buschow, a chamber director and highly involved in the community, began bringing and showing him what had already begun with regards to downtown planning. Nix said he looked over those – the downtown master development plan and Envision Mineral Wells goals and proposals – and realized there was not only much community alignment with his downtown vision, but the efforts had begun.
Having also worked closely with the Nixes the last four years, Buschow knows them both very well.
"He’s quirky," Buschow said of Randy Nix. "He likes a specific coffee. And, he likes it sweet. Like, really sweet. He likes a hug or a high five when we’ve made a good deal, or had a good idea. He’s focused. Very focused. I guess you could say that he does everything with intensity. His brain never stops. I get emails and messages at all times of the day and night. They are often from Misty. They are the true definition of a dynamic duo. They complement each other in the best of ways. They put their heads together and make things happen. I think one of the most endearing things about Randy Nix is that he knows he couldn’t live without Misty."
Buschow said Misty Nix is as equally driven and as hard-working as her husband.
"She works hard," Buschow said. "People often tell me stories about how they would see her out mowing lawns after a day of working at the bank. She can still hang longer than any youngster. I truly laugh when people insinuate that they started out with money, or that everything came easy to them. They had goals, and there was nothing that would stop them."
She said this past year "has been filled with intensity and an incredible desire to make downtown Mineral Wells a prosperous and thriving destination."
"Randy Nix needs immediate results," Buschow said. "It was not happening fast enough for him. So, he started making things happen. He knew that the Baker project would fail, or not even take off, without a thriving downtown to support the project. Everything started from that. And, although their vision has changed, improved, and grown immensely since its inception, the underlying theme has remained consistent with what the original downtown pioneers and Envision Mineral Wells groups wanted to see."
One cannot forget the Nixes have not just been focused on downtown. They purchased the former Bank of America building east of downtown, and still hope it will be home to a new and enlarged presence for Weatherford College. If not, they have other ideas for the prime commercial building and property. Nix allowed the use of the parking lot to create a new farmer's market – again one component of their overall vision of re-making Mineral Wells into a destination city.
The Nixes are also credited with saving the beloved "Santa House" on North Oak Avenue. They won't be the ones restoring it, but they purchased it to keep it from being demolished. The house has been sold to their new Metroplex friends Denise Duncan and Steve Cooper, who purchased it from the Nixes and plan to restore and reside in it.
"Randy and Misty could have done a million things," Buschow said. "They were happy to spend the entire deer season in Kansas during the past years. They could have found a quaint town in Kansas to invest in. They could spend more time vacationing. Their passion to see Mineral Wells return to the resort town it once was is the driving force that brought their daughter home to reignite a business. They have brought the community together by helping the farmer’s market have a place to hold their event. They have brought dozens of local merchants and artisans together for fabulous retail in The Market a@ 76067, and let’s not forget that they’ve brought together a group on an even larger scale to revitalize the Crazy Water Hotel. It’s easy to see that Randy and Misty have not only invested money in Mineral Wells, but their hearts as well. The goal was always to bring people together. The goal was to create positive change for more than just a few."
Other downtown business owners and property investors are excited for the opportunities ahead and are appreciative for what the Nixes have done to kickstart downtown revitalization.
Shaley Cates, owner of Merrimac & North, said she first became acquainted with the Nixes shortly after opening her store in December 2012. She said they became regular customers, purchasing bakery items, gifts or furniture pieces.
"As their downtown involvement ramped up they opened a tab and brought people by often for a treat while they planned their downtown endeavors," Cates said. "During this time we talked often, to Randy especially, about his plans. He was happy to discuss our ideas and even concerns, often asking for our opinions and suggestions. When he began purchasing numerous downtown buildings we were excited but also nervous about the various ways it would impact our small business. Since the opening of the Market the walking traffic has increased downtown and we are hopeful that will only continue in 2019. All in all our experience with the Nixes has been a positive one and their commitment and investment to our beloved downtown definitely gives them my vote for Mineral Wells (man and woman) of the year."
"Randy and Misty have have been champions of Mineral Wells while embracing the sense of community," said Regan Johnson, a city council member who with Perri Leavelle own and operate Brazos Market & Bistro and The Lofts. "They also allow their employees to give back and invest their time as well. Those two understand the many moving parts and big picture of what it will take to get there – even if things may never move as fast as Randy would like them to!"
Leavelle agreed, saying, "The thing I appreciate so much about those two is that they have embraced the concept that as downtown businesses we are not in competition for our piece of the pie. They truly want to work together to make the pie bigger and to see the whole downtown thrive! We desperately needed the reinforcement and we are glad to have the opportunity to partner with them!"
Johnson and Leavelle have worked with the Nixes to lend their artistic talents by restoring a Bull Durham Tobacco wall advertisement uncovered during a restoration, and more recently painting a large mural on the front of the former and now blue-faced Ritz Theater building that is planned to be the future home of the Mineral Wells Art Association.
Those artistic endeavors have given rise to wall murals across downtown. Continued development and occupation of buildings with new and different ventures continues as plans move forward to develop a downtown park. The Nixes are also helping an effort to save and restore the historic Paul Lawrence Dunbar School south of downtown, possibly turning it into a youth center.
Stay tuned everyone. This is only the beginning.
MINERAL WELLS INDEX WOMAN, MAN OF THE YEAR HONOREES
1993 – Jana Ables, Steve Butcher
1994 – Jean Bumgardner, Steve Perdue
1995 – Connie Ball, Steve Jones
1996 – Debbie Nation, Ron Munday
1997 – Ruby Holliman, Clarence Holliman
1998 – Diane Brown,Raymond Greenwood
1999 – Paula Clifton, Harry Riley
2000 – Pat Dorris,Jim Slattery
2001 – Mary Creighton, Myron Crawford
2002 – Lou Warren, Don Price
2003 – Pat Talkington, Kirk Horton
2004 – Helen Slemmons, Willie Casper
2005 – Lou Pilgrim, Jackie Harvey
2006 – Caris Thetford, Mike Eubank
2007 – Zelda Thompson, Bob Bellamy
2008 – Kathy Foster, Levon Anders
2009 – Penni Beauregard, Richard Ball
2010 – Carol Elder, Chuck Lawrence
2011 – Connie Parker, Ronny Collins
2012 – Tammy Lovell, Jerry Ray
2013 – Robin Allen, Joe Ruelas
2014 – Rose McCombs Jordan, Dr. Richard Hoefelmann, M.D.
2015 – Dacey Malone, Harris Brooks
2016 – Pat Bazzell, Phil "Bud" Garrett
2017 – Erin Hite, Lee Downs
2018 – Misty Nix, Randy Nix