Baby-sit­ting firm ma­tures

Proud part­ners ex­pand Time Out Sit­ters to new ci­ties and add ser­vices, see their suc­cess as ‘very hum­bling’

San Antonio Express-News - - OTHER VIEWS - By Madi­son Is­zler

Tif­fany Murgo and Katie Rakowitz met in an English class at Bradley Mid­dle School and be­came fast friends. They re­mained close through high school and col­lege, were in each other’s wed­dings and have raised their kids to­gether.

In 2011, af­ter Rakowitz had her first child, she started look­ing for work she could do from home. She ended up ac­quir­ing a small baby-sit­ting busi­ness a year later from a woman she met through a moms group. At the time, the busi­ness had 35 baby sit­ters and was book­ing about 125 jobs a month.

Murgo of­fi­cially be­came a part­ner in 2014, and the best friends worked to re­brand and grow the busi­ness.

To­day, Time Out Sit­ters has about 250 baby sit­ters and han­dles about 1,000 jobs a month. The part­ners also have added petand house-sit­ting ser­vices.

They’ve ex­panded north up In­ter­state 35 to Austin and Waco, among other ci­ties. Now they’re work­ing to grow their pres­ence in those mar­kets and hire more sit­ters.

“We’ve come a long way,” Rakowitz said. “We’re thank­ful for the com­mu­nity. We’re deal­ing with your ba­bies, and that’s a big deal. It re­ally is very hum­bling.”

The name, Time Out Sit­ters, stems from “when par­ents need time out,” she said. Peo­ple in need of child care reg­is­ter through the web­site and sub­mit a re­quest with the date, time and lo­ca­tion. Rakowitz and Murgo match them with pre­s­e­lected sit­ters.

The part­ners say the vet­ting process is part of what dis­tin­guishes Time Out Sit­ters from sim­i­lar ser­vices. All sit­ters are 18 or older, have prior child care ex­pe­ri­ence, are CPR- and first aid-cer­ti­fied, and un­dergo back­ground checks. Rakowitz and Murgo, both 38, said they per­son­ally in­ter­view each can­di­date and call their ref­er­ences be­fore they are hired.

Af­ter be­ing set up with a sit­ter, a client gets an email con­fir­ma­tion with a pic­ture and bi­og­ra­phy of the sit­ter, who also calls the day be­fore the job to in­tro­duce them­selves.

“Our rule of thumb is, if we wouldn’t have them come into our home to watch our chil­dren, then we’re not go­ing to bring them on the team to watch other peo­ple’s chil­dren,” Murgo said.

Can­di­dates, who are typ­i­cally re­ferred by other sit­ters, are in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors.

Those us­ing the ser­vice pay an an­nual mem­ber­ship fee of $50. Hourly rates are based on time, the num­ber of chil­dren and other fac­tors — if a child is sick, for ex­am­ple, or a sit­ter is needed on a hol­i­day.

In-home rates start at $13.50 an hour for one child, with an­other $1 per hour for each ad­di­tional child and $3 per hour for each friend or guest. Job min­i­mums start at three hours Mon­day through Thurs­day, with

higher min­i­mums on week­ends and hol­i­days. They have dis­cussed surge pric­ing for busy times, Rakowitz said. There are group rates for out­ings and events.

Time Out also has sit­ters who are able to care for chil­dren with spe­cial needs. They also have about 10 sit­ters cer­ti­fied to care for foster chil­dren.

“We talk a lot about the trust that the clients have in us, but it’s also the trust that the sit­ters have in us,” Murgo said. “We have two clients.”

An­other fac­tor they be­lieve sets Time Out apart is their con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity as long­time San An­to­nio res­i­dents.

Be­fore they teamed up on the busi­ness, Rakowitz worked in sales and ca­ter­ing. Murgo also worked in sales and helped man­age her hus­band’s busi­ness. The pair would of­ten bounce ideas for busi­nesses off each other. They talked about a child and pet bou­tique, and a sand­wich cook­book.

Murgo typ­i­cally han­dles job re­quests, in­voic­ing and emails, while Rakowitz fo­cuses on hir­ing and mak­ing sure sit­ters’ doc­u­ments are up to date. As they ap­proach the hol­i­days, which are usu­ally busy, they start ac­cel­er­at­ing hir­ing in Oc­to­ber and No­vem­ber.

Rakowitz and Murgo de­clined to dis­close what cut they take from the fees. They com­pare man­ag­ing a busi­ness to­gether to a mar­riage: There are highs and lows, but work­ing through the strug­gles is re­ward­ing. They re­spect each other. And if they were too sim­i­lar, they agree, they would butt heads far more of­ten.

“It makes it so much more grat­i­fy­ing be­cause we’ve been through all th­ese re­ally hard things to­gether,” Murgo said.

Even­tu­ally they hope to add a mo­bile app and ex­pand to more ci­ties, but for now they are fo­cus­ing on Austin and Waco.

“We do want to keep on grow­ing, but we also need to make sure we stick to how we hire and do­ing things the Time Out Sit­ters way,” Rakowitz said. in­vested in the pipe­line sec­tor, where there’s more room for growth. Phillips 66’s pipe­line spinoff is build­ing the Gray Oak oil pipe­line from West Texas’ boom­ing Per­mian Basin to Cor­pus Christi and Freeport.

The com­pany said it is plan­ning to ex­pand the Gray Oak sys­tem with ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity and new ori­gin sta­tions through­out much of the Per­mian.

The pipe­line sys­tem is on track to be built by the end of 2019, but the ex­pan­sion

The on­go­ing shale story

Nowhere has pro­duc­tion risen as quickly as in the U.S. shale plays, led by Per­mian, de­spite the pre­dic­tions of a pipe­line-in­duced slow­down.

A year ago, U.S. oil pro­duc­tion hit 10 mil­lion bar­rels a day for the first time since 1970. Now, U.S. out­put has reached a record of 11.6 mil­lion bar­rels a day, with nearly one-third pro­duced in in West Texas. “The Per­mian con­tin­ues to grow de­spite the pre­vail­ing be­lief that the Per­mian can’t grow,” West said.

Mean­while, less Ira­nian oil is com­ing off the mar­ket fol­low­ing waivers granted by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that would al­low many of the world’s big­gest en­ergy con­sumers, in­clud­ing China, In­dia and Ja­pan, to con­tinue to buy Ira­nian crude for at least six months. And, in an­tic­i­pa­tion

will take un­til late 2020.

Mean­while, Mag­el­lan Mid­stream Part­ners of Tulsa, Okla., and Nav­i­ga­tor En­ergy Ser­vices of Dal­las an­nounced an open sea­son to gauge in­ter­est in a 500mile, 250,000-bar­rel-a-day pipe­line from Cush­ing to Hous­ton. The pipe­line would ter­mi­nate at Mag­el­lan’s ter­mi­nal in Hous­ton, where oil and con­den­sate could be de­liv­ered to re­finer­ies or oil ex­port ter­mi­nals in that city and in Texas City. of the sanc­tions tak­ing a big­ger bite from global sup­plies, both Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia, the sec­ond and third big­gest pro­duc­ers af­ter the United States, kicked up their pro­duc­tion.

At $60 a bar­rel, oil prices re­main rel­a­tively healthy, an­a­lysts said, and com­pa­nies can still make money. Pavel Molchanov, an en­ergy an­a­lyst for Ray­mond James, said a bot­tom to this lat­est sell-off doesn’t ap­pear too far off. He said the re­cent plunge is a tem­po­rary set­back be­fore oil prices re­sume an up­ward tra­jec­tory.

“Oil is hav­ing a nor­mal cor­rec­tion within a bull

The oil and con­den­sate, which is an oil byprod­uct, would be sourced from the Rocky Moun­tains re­gion and North Dakota’s Bakken shale field.

If the pipe­line is built, it is ex­pected to come on­line by the end of 2020.

Mag­el­lan added that it is also eval­u­at­ing a pos­si­ble oil pipe­line from Hous­ton to Cor­pus Christi and a crude ex­port ter­mi­nal on Har­bor Is­land near Cor­pus Christi. The ter­mi­nal would be able to load Very Large Crude Car­ri­ers, or mar­ket,” he said.

Look­ing over­seas

Oil mar­kets have re­acted in re­cent weeks to in­creas­ing U.S. stock­piles, which have climbed by mil­lions of bar­rels, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. En­ergy Depart­ment.

But Molchanov said mar­kets seem too fo­cused on those in­creases — some which are the re­sult of nor­mal re­fin­ery down­time for main­te­nance fol­low­ing the peak sum­mer driv­ing sea­son — and the out­put of largest pro­duc­ers. At the same time, mar­kets are over­look­ing rapidly fall­ing pro­duc­tion in eco­nom­i­cally suf­fer­ing coun­tries like

VLCCs, which ship­pers pre­fer be­cause of the cost sav­ings re­lated to the ships’ abil­ity to trans­port larger vol­umes.

The Port of Cor­pus Christi has teamed up with as­set man­ager The Car­lyle Group to de­velop a VLCC­ca­pable oil ex­port ter­mi­nal on an­other part of Har­bor Is­land. Swiss com­modi­ties trader Trafigura has voiced in­ter­est in build­ing an off­shore VLCC-ca­pa­ble oil ex­port buoy.

The Port of Cor­pus Christi op­poses the Trafigura Venezuela.

Even with the soft­en­ing of the sanc­tions, Iran’s ex­ports will con­tinue to de­cline, Molchanov said. In ad­di­tion, pro­duc­tion in Mex­ico, Nor­way and the United King­dom is de­clin­ing, while po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity threat­ens pro­duc­tion in Libya and Nige­ria.

And now there’s talk that the Saudis and Rus­sians may in­for­mally agree to cur­tail their pro­duc­tion again to help sta­bi­lize crude prices, an­a­lysts said. The Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries holds its next meet­ing on Dec. 6 in Vi­enna.

Brian Young­berg, an en­ergy an­a­lyst with Ed­ward Jones in St. Louis, said prices in oil mar­kets can quickly change their tra­jec­tory, since they of­ten move on anec­do­tal ev­i­dence, con­flict­ing re­ports and sen­ti­ment. A hint from OPEC that it might cut pro­duc­tion can send prices soar­ing; a tweet from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump call­ing on Saudi Ara­bia boost pro­duc­tion can sent them slid­ing.

“There’s so many pieces around the world that go into oil prices that make it al­most im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict where they’ll end up,” Young­berg said. give a grant to Okin and ex­empt its per­sonal prop­erty and equip­ment from taxes. The city also plans to nom­i­nate it as a Texas En­ter­prise Zone Pro­gram, giv­ing it ac­cess to state in­cen­tive funds worth $1.25 mil­lion over a five-year pe­riod.

Brooks will ren­o­vate two build­ings for tem­po­rary use as Okin’s of­fice space, fi­nanced by the Brooks Tax In­cre­ment Rein­vest­ment Zone, be­fore the com­pany es­tab­lishes a per­ma­nent pres­ence at Brooks. plan and has not voiced an opin­ion on Mag­el­lan’s pos­si­ble ter­mi­nal.

Car­los Javier Sanchez / Con­trib­u­tor

Katie Rakowitz, left, and Tif­fany Murgo run San An­to­nio-based Time Out Sit­ters, help­ing fam­i­lies find child care. The startup has ex­panded to Austin and Waco.

Car­los Javier Sanchez / Con­trib­u­tor

Tif­fany Murgo, left, and Katie Rakowitz, friends since mid­dle school, are part­ners in Time Out Sit­ters. Murgo han­dles job re­quests, in­voic­ing and emails, while Rakowitz fo­cuses on staffing.

Hasan Ja­mali / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bahrain usu­ally fol­lows OPEC’s lead in pro­duc­tion. OPEC meets Dec. 6 in Vi­enna over ris­ing stock­piles.

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