Triple Win campus development prioritizes community engagement

By Lilly Price

Walking around the grounds at 1129 Webster Ave., you get the sense it is a space with deep history. The five-acre property, owned by Brazos River Capital, was once home to Khoury Inc., a family cabinet company that operated for nearly seven decades. 

The food entrepreneurship summer students sell their products on the Triple Win Food Truck.

Now, it’s the location of a new joint venture operated by Triple Win Waco, an informal out-of-school-time work-based learning program that combines students and businesses for everything from manufacturing to running a food truck. 

Originally, Triple Win used a workshop on Franklin Avenue and facilities at Connally Career Tech for its pilot programs, but it eventually found the space at Webster in 2020. Waco Pedal Tours, Triple Win, and Brazos River Capital agreed upon a three-year lease giving Triple Win the time to invest in research and development of their program with facilities large enough to host their vision. Founders Clay Springer and Cory Dickman chose the property because of its location near downtown and the geographic proximity to many of the students that Triple Win serves. 

The group has grand plans for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) campus. At present it houses a workshop and offices for local businesses, but eventually it will host a commissary kitchen, artist co-studio, maker’s market, food truck park, general store, student center, and co-working space. 

Triple Win Waco and Rapoport Academy Public School are making a three-year commitment of almost $1 million dollars in seed funds, personnel funds, and equipment to execute Project Launch. The campus will direct and enrich work-based learning and thought leadership in STEM education and entrepreneurship to have a lasting impact on the Greater Waco community. The Webster campus will help serve as an incubator for student businesses, giving them access to resources and start-up funds with a path to profitability.

Triple Win starts at the individual level, connecting the interests of each student who enters the program. More broadly, the team behind Triple Win hopes the Webster campus will be a resource for all of Waco by leading the charge on STEM education in our city. 

By advocating for each stakeholder involved in Triple Win — students, education, and businesses– the program works to cultivate the creativity and love of learning that every person has when they walk through the front doors.

Mechatronics students take a break after working hard in the shop.

The fully renovated campus is set to unveil in February 2022 and will feature an expansion of Maker’s Edge Makerspace in partnership with Rogue Capital Investments. There’s something so appropriate about a building with a rich history of manufacturing and woodworking being transferred to students who are getting their start learning the ropes of fabrication and entrepreneurship. 

In a way, it affirms the ongoing importance of work in STEM fields and the way industrial sectors will continue to benefit the local community. The Triple Win campus lies in the heart of South Waco, neighbored by spots like Jesse’s Tortilla Factory, Cotton Palace Park, and the Talitha Koum Institute. 

Sustainable and equitable city growth means innovation that is led by people who live and work in the neighborhoods being developed, and Triple Win has made it a priority to partner with local businesses and organizations to see growth that reflects the culture of the city.

Beyond the practical significance of the Webster campus, the leaders of Triple Win hope the renovated property will become a community resource ideologically, as well as a place where people can work together and find a sense of belonging. 

The Webster campus is represented by Hector Sabido, city councilman for District 2- which includes South Waco, Baylor, and downtown. “An educational resource like Triple Win would be transformative,” Sabido said. “Having a workspace that allows people to prepare for their future ideas and how they can implement those ideas and including the educational component and mentorship, that is something I want to see more of in my district … for people to be able to live out a dream they have.” 

Instructor Thomas Ellis lifts the ax trailer frame in order to place jacks underneath.

Central to Triple Win’s vision and values is the Waco community. By connecting families, students, businesses and educators, Triple Win seeks first to foster economic prosperity and continuing education for all. The renovation of the Webster campus is representative of that goal, which has motivated the work done at Triple Win since its inception in 2018. 

For people like Rachel Pate, who was raised in the South Waco neighborhood and serves as vice president of economic development for Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, the work Triple Win is doing in the community is significant. “The Triple Win space brings new opportunities into an underserved community … better training means better opportunities and a better quality of life,” Pate said. 

For students, the Webster campus represents a safe place, instructors who know their names and stories, friends who share their interests, and confidence gained from having the tools they need to build something new. 

By working in a collaborative environment with facilities that are flexible to individual student interests, the Webster campus aims to foster innovation and a passion for exploration. To keep up to date with Triple Win’s renovation journey, visit

Lilly Price is a Baylor University alum and the Public Relations Coordinator for Triple Win Waco. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco-born business sticks, with help from students

By Cory Dickman

I met Thomas Ellis at church back in the Fall of 2006. I was a freshman at Baylor and had no idea that 13 years later, we were going to start Waco Axe Co., the city’s first axe-throwing venue. Thomas and I, along with fellow partners Cody Beeler and Jared Dauenhauer, embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship and axe throwing.

Students from the Triple Win training program construct an axe-throwing trailer for Waco Axe Co.

We leased a space on Washington Avenue and began the buildout of our venue, but when construction was taking longer than expected, we came up with an idea to build a mobile axe-throwing trailer. This would allow us to run events and tailgates, expand marketing, and most importantly, keep us busy during construction.

We approached Clay Springer and Triple Win Waco, a work-based learning apprenticeship program, about partnering with students to construct the trailer. The students would get paid for the hours they put in while earning valuable certifications along the way. Triple Win recruited students from Rapoport Academy and Connally Career Tech to join the project and after a build time of just three months, Waco’s first axe throwing-venue now had Waco’s first and only axe-throwing trailer.

The mobile axe trailer turned out to be a major success. We broke even on the project after four months of operation and just in time for our venue to open up on Feb. 14, 2020. Over the next 27 days, we experienced a lot of traffic from both local Wacoans and our tourist population. Then on the 28th day, the axes had to be put away as the Covid-19 pandemic began ramping up. For us, much like everyone else, the rest of 2020 was a blur. From a business perspective, we all lost employees, revenue, and a sense of time. 

It wasn’t until Christmas break of 2020 that sales began to increase as people became more comfortable going out in public again. We were feeling (axe)cited and ready to hit (the mark) in 2021. One of our regulars, Gib Reynolds from Startup Waco, approached us regarding the Kiva program. Kiva is a nonprofit designed to help crowd source funding for entrepreneurs and allow the community to invest in businesses.

We applied for the program and were accepted up to $15,000. We decided to use those funds to build not one but two more axe trailers following the notable performance of the initial trailer. Because the experience working with Triple Win students was so positive and their team developed expertise on our product, we partnered with the organization again to complete our additional trailers. Triple Win had a new design in mind that would allow us to accommodate more people by having eight axe targets per trailer. The design was creative, innovative, and bigger (much bigger) than the first trailer. 

Triple Win was awarded a Summer Career and Technical Education Grant, $30,000 of which was designated to Waco Axe as a project of value. Triple Win recruited an amazing team of students from Rapoport Academy including Azel Rodriguez, Mikayla Lee, Haven Roanke, Harris Cook, Devin Weaver, Caden Sullivan, and Rafi Pena. These students earned their OSHA 30 certifications and gained invaluable experience in welding, metalworking, computer-aided design (CAD), and soft skills like communicating with their employer. Not only do the students get to put together a cool project with their friends, they also see how their hard work directly impacts a local small business. 

The basic goal of axe throwing is to get the axe to stick on the bullseye, but when you’re just learning, it can be the hardest skill to complete. There’s failure at first, but with hard work and determination, the axe will stick and the sense of accomplishment is unmatched. Taking an idea and creating a product from the ground up can feel like trying to get that axe to stick. But when we as a business partner with ambitious students who are eager to learn, we try, fail, and eventually get it right — together. Combine local students and a company that loves to serve the community and you get a Waco-born business that sticks. 

Cory Dickman is owner/founder of Rogue Capital, a company that invests in and supports entrepreneurs in their business ventures. He has founded or co-founded several businesses, including Rogue Media Network, Nexus E-sports, Waco Pedal Tours, Waco Escape Rooms, and Waco Axe. An Oregon Native, Cory originally moved to Waco to go to Baylor University. He moved back in 2015 to start the Waco Escape Rooms. Cory also serves on the Board of Act Locally Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].