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Daniel Guzman Navigates a Special Delivery

Daniel Guzman Navigates a Special Delivery

Daniel Guzman is helping beloved Texas grocer H-E-B and Austin-based Favor Delivery navigate novel legal issues as both companies experience rapid growth delivering essential goods to Texans across the state

Photo by Josh Huskin

There are a few things most true Texans can’t do without. Barbeque, football, cowboy boots, country music, and H-E-B. That last one is a regional grocery chain that might be unknown in other parts of the country, but it enjoys cult status in the Lone Star State, where shoppers flock to its 350 locations for basic necessities and fan favorites like hatch chili cookies. When winter storms or seasonal hurricanes strike, Texans rely on two entities for relief—the Red Cross and H-E-B. In 2018, the 116-year-old family-owned business set out to serve Texans in a whole new way by partnering with Favor Delivery.

Daniel Guzman has spent the last four years helping launch the new endeavor. Favor Delivery is a growing on-demand delivery service that is helping H-E-B meet its customers’ changing needs in new ways. Guzman, an adaptable lawyer with a proven history of tackling new and unusual assignments, says he was excited to take on the important job.

“These are two strong companies that have come together in a special way to do something neither could do on its own,” he says. Favor retains its brand but benefits from being H-E-B’s wholly owned subsidiary by tapping into H-E-B’s large customer base. The grocer leverages Favor’s data-driven tech platform and on-demand delivery services.

Daniel Guzman, Managing Counsel, H-E-B and Head of Legal, Favor Delivery
Photo by Josh Huskin

Guzman joined H-E-B in 2014 and added head of legal at Favor Delivery to his duties in late 2018. He managed legal aspects of the acquisition and then shifted to signing new partners, negotiating contracts, overseeing regulatory compliance, managing the company’s litigation, and facilitating Favor’s growth outside Austin to the rest of the state. Along the way Guzman started a wonderful family, marrying his wife Rose. They now have two children, Violet and Dylan. The Favor transition required Guzman to relocate his family from San Antonio to Austin, which they fully supported.

It’s not the first time his career has required a move. Guzman grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and spent his childhood nurturing dual interests in computer science and law. He programmed video games, enrolled in AP classes, watched Law & Order marathons, and entered a local college with enough credits to start as a junior. He applied to law school after his first year, graduated in two years, and was accepted into New York University School of Law when he was just nineteen years old.  His parents, he says, always encouraged him to take on new challenges and to push his limits. They were extremely proud when he was the first person in their immediate family to attend law school.  

Even though Guzman was excited to attend the Big Apple’s oldest law school, the move required him to learn the important skill of adaptability. He went from a rural town to a big city, from warm weather to frigid temperatures, and from being accepted to feeling isolated. Since he couldn’t get into the bars and parties his college-age friends were attending, he doubled down on his studies, passed critical first-year exams, learned how to excel in his new environment, and graduated with an offer from the Manhattan office of the prestigious global law firm Jones Day.

While Guzman was working at one of the world’s top law firms, he developed a love for transactional work and spent five years developing his expertise as a mergers and acquisitions associate. Along the way, he advised Fortune 500 companies on corporate governance issues, completed his first acquisition and IPO, and learned the ins and outs of SEC regulations. In 2013, Guzman went out “on loan” to manage joint ventures and equity investments for Master Card, and the experience opened his eyes to in-house work. He started plotting an eventual return to his home state, and when he noticed that H-E-B had an opening, he seized the opportunity to join one of his favorite companies.

First, Guzman negotiated technology and sponsorship agreements, managed compliance programs, and advised leaders at H-E-B, but since the company acquired Favor Delivery, he’s shifted to help the innovative company harness the power of H-E-B’s network. When the companies joined forces, Favor was in less than fifty markets. Just twelve months later, that number jumped to 130 and its employee count almost tripled. Amongst other things, Guzman has helped streamline and standardize Trust & Safety and driver onboarding processes to take the company’s delivery driver base from ten thousand to eighty thousand while navigating emerging legal issues along the way. Guzman is quick to credit the H-E-B corporate law team, H-E-B’s CCO Steve Mount, the Favor executive team, and Favor’s CEO Jag Bath for helping make his transition successful.

Like most other big assignments throughout his career, the project has required intense levels of adaptability. Guzman relies on the help of one multitalented paralegal to implement new contract software, stay on top of emerging legal issues, monitor what business leaders are doing, and master delivery rules and restrictions that can change by city and county. Frequent changes require him to be in constant communications with his counterparts in marketing, operations, support, product, IT, and engineering who make updates to Favor Delivery’s driver interface and digital app.

Now, Guzman and his colleagues are exploring the future of H-E-B’s partnership with Favor. “In some ways, we’re still just at the start. We know we have the right people, infrastructure and systems to take both H-E-B and Favor to the next level,” he says. In 2022, he expects Favor to partner with new restaurants, grow the business, introduce more options and features, and even experiment with new delivery verticals beyond food. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure—Guzman, H-E-B, and Favor will continue to deliver something special to consumers in the state of Texas.

Pandemic Pivot

Daniel Guzman never lost his childhood interest in gadgets and computers. In fact, he took advantage of the pandemic slowdown to build his own high-end gaming PC with an Nvidia GeForce 30 series graphics card. The hobby also gave him a way to reconnect with once-distant friends while participating in live, multiplayer campaigns. Flexibility and maintaining personal connections both in-person and virtually are important to avoiding burnout. At work, Guzman and other leaders are promoting flexibility while also enticing their colleagues back to the office on a part-time and volunteer basis by providing free food trucks and other perks.

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