Andrew Riojas served nine years in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic – stationed from coast to coast and even Nebraska, where he met his wife, Nikki. After entering civil service, Riojas found his next calling working in the oil industry in Louisiana. He was promoted to general manager of an oilfield manufacturing company, which is what later brought his family to the Coastal Bend and laid the foundation for new business endeavors.
The Riojases’ current ventures — Milestones and Made in Corpus Christi — are housed at 1526 S. Staples St. in a building they renovated mostly by themselves and with the help of family. In the case of Milestones, family also played a large role in getting the store off the ground.
“My wife’s stepfather-in-law Larry had a big awards business back in Lincoln, Nebraska, called Awards Unlimited, and he sold it about a year prior to us moving out here and he retired,” Riojas said. “When we moved here, they were in the process of looking for a winter home and they liked the area and wanted to be around the kids, so they decided to buy a place here.
“He recently passed, but before that, we were driving and he said, ‘I need to talk to you about something serious.’ He said, ‘I think I retired too soon and I don’t want to sit around and play golf.’ He said, ‘Why don’t we start a business? I know the industry and I can help with everything you need to know.’”
Riojas said his father-in-law was in discussions with local athletic directors who noted they were getting items made in San Antonio and Houston because there wasn’t a local company that could fulfill their requirements. He said the opportunity to learn from someone who had been successful in the industry was the springboard he needed.
Riojas said he’s grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much and has taken a hands-on approach to do more custom work for events and private individuals, everything from laser engraving and woodwork to corporate awards and donor appreciation walls.
“We have continued to get more projects because others have seen what we can do around town, and we’re grateful to be here in the Coastal Bend doing what we can do for the community,” he said.