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What-a-promotion!
by Tim Delaney
Jan 17, 2014 | 75 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo
Pam Boenig Cox was promoted to Whataburger vice president of communications for the more than 750 Whataburgers in 10 states on Jan. 7. Her parents live in Woodsboro.
Contributed photo Pam Boenig Cox was promoted to Whataburger vice president of communications for the more than 750 Whataburgers in 10 states on Jan. 7. Her parents live in Woodsboro.
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REFUGIO – When Pam Boenig Cox thinks about her career, three words come to mind: sincerity, honesty and humbleness.

The traits have guided her since being raised in Portland, being graduated from Gregory-Portland High School and graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos—not too far from where she lives currently in New Braunfels.

But she says the company she has been with the past 12 years exudes those qualities, and that’s why she loves her job.

Cox was in Refugio County on Sunday, Jan. 12, visiting her parents—Charlie and Fran Boenig—in Woodsboro.

She stopped to visit the Whataburger in Refugio, one of the more than 500 corporate restaurants in the chain. The franchises make up the more than 750 Whataburger restaurants, covering 10 states.

On Jan. 7, the San Antonio-based corporation announced that Cox was promoted to vice president of communications, taking on expanded duties and responsibility.

Cox previously was the group director of corporate communications.

“We are thrilled to promote Pam ...,” said Whataburger Chief Executive Officer Preston Atkinson. Atkinson added that Cox has proven her exceptional capabilities over her years with Whataburger.

Cox noted that Whataburger is a $1.2 billion company.

She said the great thing about Whataburger is those three traits—sincerity, honesty and humbleness.

“It’s not always about the bottom line—it’s providing the best experience possible,” she said.

During her time at Whataburger, she said she “never once was asked—in a situation—to go out and say something uncomfortable.”

She said the CEO (Atkinson) and the Dobson family, notably Tom Dobson, are people who also love those three traits usually found in small communities.

“Atkinson is a good man. He takes a real collaborative approach. He’s respectful of other people’s opinions, and he’s from Edna—a small town, too.”

Cox said she lives in New Braunfels because she likes the smaller towns.

After she earned a degree in mass communications, she went to work for Coastal Bend Youth City, an organization that helps abused and neglected children. She was the organization’s director of public relations.

At about 26 years old, she moved to Friendswood to work in marketing for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Then she took about five years off to raise her two children—Kaitlyn, now 17, and Garrett, now 13.

While she tended her children, she started her own business—Signature Socials, a company whose service involved planned events where companies could raise money. That’s where she met Diane DeCou, who was with Whataburger.

“She recommended me for a position. And I got it. I went from marketing to communication,” she said.

A couple of years ago, Whataburger went through a re-imaging campaign that is almost finished among its restaurants in 10 states. It dealt with exterior image of its restaurants.

Cox said the campaign included taking the blue out of the colors and focusing on orange and white.

The company had gone through another imaging campaign about 10 years ago that took out the brown color and focused on the blue.

Some exteriors in the new campaign include adding stone, but the idea is to create an image of newness while considering the local community, and that gives a sense of excitement.

“We are focusing on markets we’re in. There’s room to grow. We want to create good systems that are reliable, easy to replicate and continue to provide the best burger and products to customers,” she said.

“Our goal is to connect in a way that’s more meaningful – different things are important to different towns. It’s a simple approach but hard to do,” she said.

“It requires a lot of communication and collaboration. We truly work as a team,” she added.

And the credit for the good company environment goes to Atkinson and Dobson, Cox said. For they help to foster that feeling.

She said the company is developing products for an online store, and it is expanding its retail aspect.

For example, Whataburger catsup is now available in H-E-B.

“It’s been a big hit with customers,” Cox noted.

Cox is responsible for directing all internal communications activities, special events and meetings, public relations and social media efforts for the company.

Family-owned Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi.

Dobson gave his restaurant a name he hoped to hear customers say every time they took a bite of his made-to-order burgers: “What a burger!”

Within the first week, people lined up around the block for his 25 cent, 100-percent beef burgers served on five-inch buns.

Cox said it’s the small-town traits and friendliness that spells success for the company. And that success is something she has shared in with her personal triumphs.

All that sincerity, honesty and humbleness coming from a small-town environment served to benefit Cox.

“I think it goes back to growing up in a small town like a Portland or a Refugio. It’s great for character building,” she said.

“It’s unique: good people, humility, goodness of folks in small towns,” she added.

“You have a tendency to never get too big for your britches. It keeps you grounded – it’s family.

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