“There are so many great projects underway in this town right now that you have to feel encouraged about the future,” said Harold Shepard.
“With the River Walk, Lakeside and new development on the west end, more residents will be spending their tax dollars here. But, we will also be attracting shoppers from other areas of North Texas,” he added.
Mr. Shepard, a former Chairman of the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce, has been a promoter of business growth for many years. He joined the FM Chamber in 1998 and quickly became a leader, initiating the Leads Networking breakfasts along with Flower Mound resident JaLynn West, another Chamber supporter. The duo hosted the morning gatherings for ten years, helping to grow the business community by having entrepreneurs stand up and give short descriptions, known as “spotlights” of their enterprises in a room with a couple of hundred guests at a time.
Harold and JaLynn also started the “Chamber Mixers,” allowing businesses to showcase their products and services on site with light hors de oeuvres and drinks. “I remember the very first mixer we set up,” said Shepard. “It was at Fish City, and my wife’s business (Dee’s Domestics) sponsored it. We expected a small gathering of maybe 40 people but were pleasantly surprised when over 200 showed up. The idea was such a success that it became a standard on the Chamber calendar and has been continued through the years as more and more businesses came on board.”
Harold says he doesn’t feel very comfortable in a crowded room as one of the guests. But, once he “takes to the stage,” so to speak, he’s in his element. “My comfort in front of crowds was never an issue. Yet, if you put me in a room with a small group of people I don’t know; that presents a challenge,” he said. Shepard is on the board of PediPlace, a non-profit pediatric clinic, and is in his fourth year as an active member of the Flower Mound Rotary.
A former Flower Mound resident who now lives in Carrollton, Mr. Shepard continues his involvement with the local business community and manages his office (Business Insurance Benefits) in town where he provides financial planning advice. As a businessman for over 20 years, part of his practice is to help business people with partners to understand and improve their buy-sell agreements. In addition to a social marketing and accounting degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Harold holds a piano and education degree from UNT.
Harold set his goal to be in the financial planning business. Nevertheless, his love for music and performing became a significant part of his lust for life. He was taking piano lessons from age 5 to 8, but complained to his parents that he wanted to be outside playing instead of practicing. They relented and he stopped practicing for a few years. Ultimately, he began to realize that he had a talent for music, even playing by ear, instead of reading from sheet music. A couple of delighted parents sent him back for more lessons.
At the age of 14, he was playing music for money, both piano and guitar. Hence, at the ripe old age of 14, Harold was referred to a jazz musician to further his music talent. He played the keyboard in high school bands, while continuing to learn music theory from his jazz mentor. He went on to open up music stores in Dallas where he sold instruments and P.A. systems to a variety of organizations. Incidentally, when Texas stadium was redone in the 1980’s he renovated their sound system. These days, when Harold is not promoting his primary business, you can find him playing with his New Ground Band at restaurants and night clubs throughout the metropolis. He’s also a regular performer at many Chamber functions in the area. This Valentine’s Day, he’s be tickling the ivories at the Twelve Stones Restaurant in town.
When asked what he sees for the future of the arts in the area, Harold said, “Flower Mound has the potential to be one of the most diverse business, industrial, retail, arts and entertainment capitals it North Texas. What’s exciting is that we have a chance to shape what is going on. The River Walk, for example, should be a great destination point where the arts could be showcased in various ways. I’d love to see a section of the River Walk for the arts where you could not only be entertained, but you could shop for artwork. If the River Walk or Lakeside wants to become a draw and help Flower Mound to become the community it aspires to be, the arts must be a part of it,” he emphasized, adding, “That will take a commitment from the town and the business community.”
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.