Picture pages: Mike and Layna Netek help relaunch the Forest Image as a staple area publicationBookmark this
Friendship is a powerful thing.
Husband and wife couple Mike and Layna Netek are a perfect example. They not only raised three children together, Jordan, Daniel, and Taylor, they are co-owners of Forest Image magazine along with Veranda restaurant owners and former LocalMeA.com subjects Pat and Ray Guard.
Over sushi dinner, the bond they built on vows and a friendship over 33 years is on full display.
“We’re so much alike,” Layna said. “We’re on the same page about everything - what we want to do at night, if we’re too tired, if we want to keep things quiet.”
“Also, you’ll notice, that if I say the wrong things,” Mike said, “she’ll kick me under the table.”
“I haven’t kicked you once tonight!” exclaimed Layna.
Friendship also worked to build their business. Following an almost two-decade stint with The Observer in advertising sales, Layna decided to move on after it was bought out by the Houston Chronicle. Over those two decades, she became one of the most visible faces in the Lake Houston area, attending events, galas, chamber and nonprofit functions. She became close friends with many of her clients.
“Layna has a natural likeability,” Mike said, no kicks needed. “Not only that, she really showed up to everything. She was all over the place. She was kind of the face of The Observer for years. If Layna wasn’t there, people would ask, ‘Where’s Layna?’ When I was with her, they’d call me Mr. Layna.”
Layna landed at Living magazine following her departure, but the partnership was short-lived. The magazine stopped circulating in the area following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Coincidentally, Pat Guard was left out without a client – she had a contract to shoot photos for the magazine.
Having known each other from Layna’s time at The Observer, the two came together along with their husbands to relaunch Forest Image, a publication the Guards owned, but hadn’t published in a few years. They decided to debut the new edition as a glossy, high-end magazine in a time when similar options weren’t as available to local businesses. The timing was right to take a chance.
Mike, a national sales manager for Thermon, a manufacturer for the oil and gas industry, said the initial goal of the publication was to provide a quality product that focuses on the Lake Houston Area.
“The internet is vast, but to get hyperlocal information, it’s very difficult,” he said. “That’s what motivated me. Other print media in the area will do hyperlocal, but they’ll also do Texas and beyond. This all about the good news from the forest. I want to put out the good news, but I want to be responsible too.”
Forest Image, now on its 18th issue, features a monthly calendar of events happening in the region, exclusive stories about the people that make the Lake Houston Area go, in addition to a space for local businesses to advertise. The magazine is circulated free of charge to nearly 40,000 homes and businesses throughout Kingwood, Humble, and Atascocita.
The Neteks’ goal is to keep building the magazine and perhaps one day hand it off to someone with the same drive and passion they have for the home they’ve lived in for nearly 30 years. One step further, they think it’s the kind of publication that would work in other areas across Houston as well. Those bonds of friendship and goodwill built over decades are paying off.
“When we set out on this thing, we wanted to grow it and make it a staple for the community,” Mike said. “Not only that, if this works here, maybe we can start in other places and help other people out too, franchise it. If that’s their passion, let them have this magazine concept and do it somewhere else too.”