Baby-sitting firm matures
Proud partners expand Time Out Sitters to new cities and add services, see their success as ‘very humbling’
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bahrain usually follows OPEC’s lead in production. OPEC meets Dec. 6 in Vienna over rising stockpiles.