New York Native Makes Boerne Her Home
Hill Country Weekly recently featured Debi Burrows and her family! The article, "New York Native make Boerne her home" was originally published in the Local Flavor Column in the March 22, 2018 issue of Hill Country Weekly.
Read the full-text below:
Debi Burrows (nee Mastrangelo) grew up in Buffalo, New York, as a second-generation Sicilian-American who was the first person in her extended family of entrepreneurs to go to college. An early indicator of her future career came at age of 9 when she wrote her first press release for her father’s companies which included restaurants and construction. It was not surprising then, that Debi graduated from the University of New York with a degree in Advertising, Communications and Marketing.
Although her family has the stereotypical loud, Catholic Italian characteristics, as a child Debi was so quiet and shy that her mother once took her books away and told her to go out and play. She went to a Catholic elementary school, where she was a cheerleader and played soccer and softball. She then attended Villa Maria, a private all-girls high school. She was determined to break out of her shell, so she walked into the school and introduced herself to the first two girls she met. They are still her best friends and remain close to this day.
At Villa Maria, Debi became your typical over-achiever: captain of the volleyball team; cheerleader; leader of the teacher recognition committee; member of student council; and the Buffalo City-wide Chess Champion (three years in a row!). Having begun playing softball at the age of six (making the all-star team several years), she began coaching at the age of twelve, continued playing in college, and later coached her own kids’ teams.
“In college, I signed up for a class in marketing that I did not have any of the prerequisites for since the class was only offered every three years. I went to the teacher’s office and sat outside his door for three hours. Even though he knew I was there, he didn’t acknowledge me. Finally, he came out and asked if I’d go away. When I said no; he said fine you’re in. I was thrilled. I got an A in the class.” Now that’s the Debi we know today.
After moving her family to Texas, Debi found Boerne when she was looking for a quality school for her son Drew. She surveyed all the area communities; while researching BISD, she saw that the superintendent was from New York and thought that was a sign. Her daughter Cecilie was born in Boerne.
Debi started her company, Penguin Suits, in 1993 and incorporated in 2003 on April 1. It is called Penguin Suits for the namesake onesie she designed for her son. He wore it to a meeting of the mom’s club she started. Everyone wanted one for their child with their favorite animal on it - Penguin Suits was born. From a one-mom home-based business, Debi has grown her marketing and advertising company to seven employees and owns the building the company inhabits.
Debi mentors young business people and has taught marketing classes through the Alamo Colleges Small Business program for several years. As a graduate of the Business Empowerment Plan sponsored by the City of San Antonio and Alamo Colleges, she is the only individual to also serve as an instructor and mentor. In 2018 she is working with the Public Relations Society of America San Antonio chapter’s mentorship program at UTSA.
From 2006 until 2009 Debi directed, hosted and starred in a television show called “Discover Boerne” and then “Discover The Hill Country”. What started as a public access program on GVTC promoting local businesses and area attractions was picked up and aired on KSAT. The show is available on YouTube where you can find segments featuring Debi bouncing on a trampoline at Boerne Gymnastics, hitting a baseball while touting upcoming events, and being tackled by the Boerne High football team. Among the opportunities the show provided were riding horses, camels and even elephant.
Debi belongs to the Hill Country Women in Business, the 100 Women Who Care, and is on the board of the San Antonio Chapter of Texas Association of Air Conditioning Contractors. Debi is an avid Buffalo Bills fan. She loves to cook, travel, takes aerial yoga, and frequently walks the Cibolo Creek trails with Tom.
Debi and her husband of six years, Tom Burrows met on Match.com and embarked on a whirlwind romance that led to their blended family: Drew, Aaron and Cecilie. Drew, 25, is a CPA working at Ernst & Young in Nashville and is married to Hannah. Aaron, 25, graduated from Baylor University and is working at USAA in San Antonio in computer systems. Cecilie, 20, is attending San Angelo State University. Debi and Tom just returned from a cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. She is currently planning a trip to Viet Nam.
Tom grew up in San Antonio and laughingly states he attended most of the universities in Texas before finally getting his degree from the University of Texas, Arlington. He inherited musical talent from his father who played the upright bass and tuba in bands in East Texas and in the Army Marching Band. In high school Tom played the trumpet and then moved on to the electric bass. In between attendance at college he played music for a living. In the late 1970s he played in a cover band at the Dallas club Oasis. In the early 1980s, he was part of a band that released an LP called “From Texas With Love.” Even though he traded in touring and club dates for more stable livelihoods, he has continued jamming with a variety of bands, mostly gospel in churches. He continues to play both his electric bass and his father’s antique upright bass.
As well as being a musician, Tom has always been an audiophile. Since studying Electrical Engineering in school, most of his career he has been involved in audio technology. Among his early jobs after getting his degree was working for a recording studio in San Antonio and serving as chief engineer for a touring sound company who worked with the likes of Cat Stevens. Tom also worked for a company who built design studios and worked in California for a video duplicating company, BASF (magnetic tape manufacturer), and then a Japanese company who made recording equipment. He is currently employed by Sterling Home Technologies and loves what he does; can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.
Over the years, Tom’s audiophile tendencies have led to a vast collection of vintage audio equipment and the supplies needed to restore them, especially vacuum tubes used in radios and amplifiers. In turn, his fascination with these objects led Tom to form Ageless Audio, a company that refurbishes vintage audio and radio electronics (in his spare time).
Together, and separately the Burrows have interesting, full lives. We wish them much success in the coming years in Boerne.
Written by Connie McFall Clark, Freelance Writer