"Lacks Cares about the People of the Valley"
He's not a Rio Grande Valley native, but Seth Aaronson says the people of the Valley are his family. Seth Aaronson, son of Lee R. Aaronson, CEO of Lack's Valley Stores, Ltd, recently moved away from his hometown of Austin, TX and traveled south with his wife, to oversee a portion of the company's operations in the Rio Grande Valley. Along with serving a Digital Marketer and Data Analyst for Lacks, Seth may now have a new place to call home, among RGV natives who he says gave him a life that he never anticipated. "It's pretty amazing knowing that this business, the people who we have relationships with and the people who buy from this business, have given me this life," he said.
Lacks has a long history with the Rio Grande Valley that dates back to 1935, when Sam Lack, a Russian immigrant founded the company and opened the first store in McAllen, TX. Sam's son-in-law, Myles Aaronson, began helping him run the business in 1949, and then later purchased the store and expanded. The company changed its name to Lacks Valley Stores, Ltd in 1995 and two years later, his son, Lee Aaronson, became the stores' chief executive officer. Today, Lacks Valley Stores, Ltd has twelve outlets in South Texas and employs over 700 associates.
Lacks has been partnering with UT Pan American since 1987, and as Seth shares, "If you don't give anything, you're not going to get anything back." The company has always been a family business, but in the eyes of Lee R. Aaronson and his son, that "family" extends beyond their own. "Lacks employs over 700 people, and that's 700 families that we have relationships with. This is about family," Seth said.
Lee Aaronson recently made a generous gift of $125,000 on behalf of Lacks Furniture Store to benefit UT Pan American's Student Enrollment and Education Program (SEEP). The program targets fourth-grade students in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties and provides lessons about diabetes, its symptoms and how to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. According to the South Texas Diabetes Initiative, there are almost 70,000 people with adult diabetes, equaling 11% of the population in South Texas. SEEP has the capacity of being carried out to 35 school districts in the RGV, impacting more than 25,000 fourth graders. Last year, the program impacted 16,517 fourth grade students in the Rio Grande Valley and program directors are working toward expanding the program to its maximum capacity.
"Our business depends on a healthy, well-employed and educated workforce to both work for us and buy from us. I took a class at UTPA, many of our associates have graduated from UTPA, and many of their children are being educated there. UTPA is a vital part of the Valley's flourishing economy. Lacks is proud to do a small part in supporting that effort," said Lee Aaronson.
Lee decided to contribute $125,000 over five years to SEEP because of the many employees in his own company who suffer from diabetes themselves or who have family members who are battling the disease. The company also donated furniture to the University's Center of Excellence in STEM Education, which provides activities that strengthen STEM academic programs.
Although a proud Longhorn graduate from The University of Texas at Austin, Seth believes in supporting the local University, "We need to support a local school. The people of the Valley are the people that we care about, because they're the ones that help this business grow," Seth said. "Lacks cares about the growth and development of the Valley. We want to be a part of the success that the Valley will continue to have beyond just our own business. As the times change, there may be needs in different areas [of UTPA], but it's an ongoing and evolving relationship that we hope to continue."