President, Manzana Products Co., Inc., 9141 Green Valley Rd., Sebastopol 95472; 707-823-5313; www.manzanaproducts.com
Professional background: I worked in this company almost all my life but took a break to become a flight attendant and then raise my children.
Education: Two years at Santa Rosa Junior College then flight attendant training
Staff: 45 during the off-season and 95 during apple season
Tell us about yourself and your company: Manzana was a small business started by my grandfather. I grew up in this business, picking up apples as a child. At 14, I was in the cannery trimming apples; at 15, peeling apples; at 16, in the office. This continued until I left for flight attendant training. When my children were old enough for me to return to work, I returned to Manzana to work in quality control seasonally.
In 1991, I worked constantly at Manzana wearing many different hats. We were a small company struggling to stay alive. I did anything necessary to keep us going.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: Sold the business to a French agricultural cooperative, which plans to continue what we have built up and expand the business in ways that would have been impossible for our small family to manage. [See the story "Merger to give Sebastopol apple processor wider reach," April 9.]
What is the achievement you are most proud of?: That finally after many years of struggle, Manzana has been financially stable and growing.
What is your biggest challenge today?: To continue to grow, when we need more apples.
Words that best describe you: Very busy workaholic
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: The biggest obstacle is when sales decreased, when we couldn’t get apples. We budgeted, cut back as much as possible, diversified, installed a cup machine to uses fewer apples. We kept going, carefully, but our competitors went out of business. At that point, the whole business climate changed.
Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: I don’t have only one mentor. Everyone at Manzana is helpful and important. The same is true with my family. My father worked at the company all of his life. I wouldn’t have been there, if I weren’t born into the family.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: I would say to find a balance. Don’t give up your life for a company. I realize as I say that, if I followed that advice, Manzana might not have survived.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Recently, I worked with Clay Stephens and Scott Shapiro at Warren Capital, attorneys Tom Passalacqua and Mike Carlson and CPA Mike Musson. They are a dream team.
Current reading: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Most want to meet: Oprah Winfrey
Stress relievers: Exercise
Favorite hobbies: Walking, spending time with family and friends
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