If you ask the Espinals what the most important things are, they are quick to answer: faith, family and travel.
Arlen Espinal has learned how to listen to the women in his life — growing up with ten sisters has a way of doing that to a guy. Born in Honduras, he was one of six children. When he was only 3 years old, his mother put his 12-year-old sister in charge and came to the United States in pursuit of a better life for her family. For several years, Arlen, his four sisters and his brother waited for the day they could be reunited with their mom, and that day came when he was 9 — not only with his mom, but with a whole new crew of siblings! The Brady Bunch had nothing on the Espinal Family — “My mom met my (adoptive) father in the U.S. and he also had several children — six daughters! We are definitely a large — and very close — family,” says Arlen.
Arlen’s parents set up a life for their family in Louisiana. It was there that Arlen met Ashley. “We met when we were 14, started dating at 15 and were married at 21,” Ashley recalls happily. “We have been married 29 years now,” says Arlen. “We went to college three hours away from each other — so I just bought myself a car and went to see her,” he smiles.
As the young couple started their family, Arlen was a restaurant owner in Louisiana. But his father-in-law, who owned a pharmaceutical sales company, saw his potential in sales, and when oldest daughter, Alexis, was 6 months old, he went to work for Pan American Laboratories. “That was 1995 and it was a tiny company. It was 100% commission, but I had a lot of encouragement from Ashley and my father-in-law. They really believed in me,” he says. “So, I moved to San Antonio and lived in motels for about six months, selling antihistamines and cough syrup until I was able to bring Ashley and Alexis to San Antonio with me.”
Arlen kept learning the business from his father-in-law and excelled in sales. During his 26-year career, Arlen was consistently ranked in the Top 5. He started out in sales, then moved to District Management and ultimately ended up as a Sales Director. The journey within the company took them back to Louisiana for a while, but after a trip to visit some friends who had moved to Cordillera Ranch, Ashley knew their path would lead right back to Texas. She says, “I came down to see our good friends Will and Lisa Hawkins. Will is the owner of All Pro, and they were some of the earliest families to move into Cordillera. Lisa and I were taking our girls to camp at His Hill, and I absolutely loved it here.” Ashley knew that to make another move happen, she needed to get approval at the highest level. “I PRAYED about it, and told Arlen, ‘It’s gonna work out.’” And it did. “Three days after I told him we were moving, he called and said ‘San Antonio territory is available again!’ God really took care of us on all corners.”
“We went to college three hours away from each other — so I just bought myself a car and went to see her.” – Arlen Espinal
Ashley, who has a PhD in Theology and Christian Counseling, is the Director for Honeyrock Endtime Foundation, and has extended her faith into her job. The HRE Foundation supports ministries that in some way, shape or form promote the Gospel of Christ. Ashley explains, “We give money to ministries all over the United States and the world. One of our newest is The Retreat Home for Children right here in Boerne. The Retreat provides trauma-informed, medical and psychological stabilization with on-site services for girls, ages 10 to 17 who have been exploited through sex trafficking, and we are very proud to be a part of that.”
Today, the high school sweethearts have two grown daughters, Alexis (26) and Juliet (22), and in keeping with what seems to be a family tradition, Juliet married her high school sweetheart in May of 2021. (Ashley’s parents were also high school sweethearts!) Juliet’s wedding to Buddy Kyle — a civil engineer at Pape Dawson in San Antonio — took place at the family’s home in Cordillera Ranch, located on Oakland Hills. “She originally wanted a small, intimate wedding, and of course I wanted a huge one,” laughs Arlen. The ladies won again and a small destination wedding was planned for Italy. Then COVID changed their plans. “It ended up being perfect,” says Ashley. “They actually got engaged in the backyard of our first home in Cordillera, so this community was a very special place to have the ceremony.” Alexis is also close by in San Antonio, where she works as a speech language pathologist treating elderly patients. Fun story: at Juliet’s wedding, Alexis met one of the Espinals’ dearest friend’s son, Vincent Liberato, and they have been dating ever since.
Cordillera has proven to be the perfect home for the pair. Arlen, who retired in January of 2020, has become an avid golfer. “We’ve been in Cordillera since 2013, originally on Rio Cordillera,” shares Ashley. “But Oakland Hills is closer to the golf course which makes Arlen very happy,” she laughs. Arlen’s next venture will be partnering with his daughter, Juliet, in her new business that she started on her own called Lore Lingerie, and is excited about its upcoming launch in January of 2022.
The couple loves all of the amenities that come with a life in Cordillera Ranch, but there’s more to it than that, says Ashley. “We do love everything that Cordillera has to offer, but it’s really more about the people that we have met here. They are ALL such good people,” she shares. “Fantastic, interesting and amazing people live here and that is really the thing that we love best.”
As much as the Espinal family loves it here, they also love to travel, whether it is to visit family in Louisiana, hang out at their ranch in Bandera or explore new places. Arlen says, “We really love to travel together, and we have been very fortunate to have been able to travel as a family to many countries! Ashley and I had a desire to travel with our kids starting when they were old enough to remember the trips. We wanted them to visit the places they were studying in school and in Scripture while they had the time to do it. It is something that has continued as the girls have grown up. We are not sure what the future holds as far as travel, but we know it will be fun going together.”