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Administrative manager for Sonoma County’s Stony Point Rock Quarry wins North Bay Latino business leadership award

Evelyn Barragan

Administrative manager

Stony Point Rock Quarry a Soiland Company

7171 Stony Point Road, Cotati

707- 795-1775

stonypointrockquarry.com

Quick Takes

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Kristina Harris, chief financial officer at Hat Creek Construction and Materials, Inc.

Kristina Harris is great role model, she is smart, knowledgeable, and is not afraid to be aggressive when necessary, especially in this industry. At the same time, she has a welcoming and warm personality.

Current reading: "Principles of Microeconomics "

Stress relievers: Hiking, dancing, a good conversation

Favorite hobbies: Exercise, watch soccer, traveling

Read about other winners of this year’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.

Evelyn Barragan of Soiland Company refused to be labeled and overcame challenges. She is a 2020 winner of the Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.

Professional background: 16 years of office professional experience in small businesses.

Education: Three classes away from an Associated of Arts in business administration.

Tell us your story and that of your organization: I am originally from Mexico City, a.k.a. Monster City. I come from a very small family … just my mom and me. During 1999 I joined the student movement at the National Autonomous University of Mexico UNAM, in which many students throughout the city united to maintain a free and autonomous university.

My mother decided to immigrate to California. I arrived in Rohnert Park and attended Rancho Cotati High School. I joined the MECHA club and helped its members showcase some traditions from the Latin culture, such as an offering for Dia de Los Muertos.

I attended Santa Rosa Junior College in 2012 as a part time student and started taking GED, ESL and Microsoft classes. I am currently in my final year and will earn an AA degree in business administration.

In 2018 I was invited to be part of The National Society of Leadership and Success and be part of an elite group of leaders locally and nationally. Even though it has been a long journey, I am still very inspired to continue with my education. I believe the sky is the limit!

In 2013 I joined Soiland Co., Inc. to work as a weighmaster and remain excited and happy to be part of such a great company. After four years, I became part of the sales team and several years later I became the administrative manager for Stony Point Rock Quarry.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

In the past year, I became a single mother due to an unanticipated circumstance with my partner. This happened right when COVID -19 had just hit our county.

During this time, I had to relocate my family, which consists of my teenage daughter, my two cats, and my betta fish. I was also taking two classes at the junior college and working 40 hours per week. This was a very tough time for me and my family, for everything changed in a matter of hours.

To this day, we are still trying to recover and adjust to our new home and circumstance, but I am happy that I didn’t mentally or emotionally break, and was able to make the best decisions for me and my family.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

When I came to this country at the age of 17, I left all my friends and memories behind, and I fell into a deep depression. I did not want to come to this country, what was required and obligated to follow my mother. Coming to a new country with a different language, scenography, and where people had a different ideology than mine was a big obstacle.

I did not know how to cope with it. I did not fit in the stereotype of how an immigrant teenager coming from Mexico should look like or act.

Fortunately, at high school there was a group of exchange students coming from Europe, we became friends and that is how I started my immersion in the English language and the American culture.

Later on, as I learned English, I felt more confident to communicate in English. I started to participate in school programs and outside the school. I was a member of a Danza Azteca Group, now called Coyolxautli.

Three students from Sonoma State University, and a professor and I, would meet to bring back the dances and traditions from our Indigenous culture. I started meeting more people and getting more acclimated to the town, the people, the laws, and even the winter! I had survived one of the biggest changes in my life.

What is your biggest challenge today?

One of the biggest challenges I am facing today is that of being a Latin woman in a white man’s industry. Many times, I have been underestimated, and it has been a challenge to stand out in this business.

However, throughout the years, I have seen this industry expand and provide opportunity to women. I still remember the first time I saw a woman driving a big truck!

Also, meeting the controller of our company, who is a well-educated, smart, and strong woman. Women in various trades have cleared the path and set the standard for future generations.

What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?

Working in the front lines of the rock quarry, I have been able to meet many people. My first year, working as a weighmaster, I was not able to spot the Latin community.

Little by little, people started to show up. I called it, “coming out of the shadow.” They would come to the scale and speak their native language or throw out some Spanish on the CV radio. I remember this one person in particular … he came into the quarry in this old truck that he had bought used from another party.

Evelyn Barragan

Administrative manager

Stony Point Rock Quarry a Soiland Company

7171 Stony Point Road, Cotati

707- 795-1775

stonypointrockquarry.com

Quick Takes

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Kristina Harris, chief financial officer at Hat Creek Construction and Materials, Inc.

Kristina Harris is great role model, she is smart, knowledgeable, and is not afraid to be aggressive when necessary, especially in this industry. At the same time, she has a welcoming and warm personality.

Current reading: "Principles of Microeconomics "

Stress relievers: Hiking, dancing, a good conversation

Favorite hobbies: Exercise, watch soccer, traveling

Read about other winners of this year’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.

The next year he had two more trucks, and now he owns 20 plus trucks. His business has grown dramatically over the years, which is a very great achievement for the Latin community.

This success not only shows persistence, but it also shows us that no matter what nationality we are, or what kind of obstacles we have; as long as we have the drive, hunger and belief to succeed, success will happen.

I know other success stories of landscapers, gardeners, contractors, and administrative managers, who put in the work, stayed consistent and kept moving forward.

Words that best describe you: Honest, perfectionist, direct, objective, fair, caring, passionate, and self-reflective.

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest obstacles I have faced has been when people have boxed me or tagged me under a label. People often assume that I am an uneducated Latin woman, sometimes only able to listen to my accent instead of what I have to say. But being patient and having empathy for the other person, I have overcome this obstacle.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?:

The industry where I work is depending on the natural resources available, which are limited. Eventually these resources will be depleted, and we will have to adapt to the changing industry. It is important that we are proactive and innovative, adapting to the new era and technology, keeping ourselves relevant, instead of trying to react and catch up in the end.

Who was your most important mentor?

There have been several people in my list of mentors which have all left an imprint in who I am today. My mentors have taught me how to think about others needs and share what I have. They have taught me to look at the smallest details to find answers. They have taught me to be passionate about what I do and not to hesitate to close a door if it no longer offers anything positive in my life. Most importantly, I have learned from my mentors to stay humble and help others when is possible.

Tell us about your community involvement: I am always happy to help in my community. When there has been time, I have volunteered for my daughter's school activities to drive kids to field trips, staple paperwork for the professors, and teach salsa dance to a 4th grade class.

I have also volunteered to drive my daughter's soccer teammates to games or organize the ordering of uniforms for the team.

On a greater scale, I have done some volunteer work for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night. I am always happy to participate in events that will help others whether they are big or small. It just fills my heart.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

As the mother of a teenager I want to say, “Do not to let your mental obstacles stopped you from what you want to do for yourself, for your family, for your future.

You are not too young to make important decisions so do not be afraid. Follow your heart and your conscious. Use your available resources and your community to make an educated decision. Remember that every decision you take will have a positive or negative effect in your life and will shape who you are.”

It’s a challenging time for all but the COVID-19 virus has been especially tough on the Latino community. Tell us your experience either personally or with the group or company you work with in dealing with the economic impact of the virus.

My co-workers and I are very fortunate to work for a company that takes these issues seriously and cares for its employees and customers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Soiland has kept its employees informed with communications pertaining to the virus and how it will affect our industry.

We have seen a decrease in homeowners fixing their homes, or contractors finishing jobs that were planned before the pandemic. I don't think anyone planned for a pandemic in their 2020 budget, but I am happy and proud to say that Soiland has made the employees feel safe and we have kept our doors open.

Our company has worked diligently to make every employee mindful of the situation and has given us the tools to care for each other, our families, and our customers.

What are the lessons of this difficult year – including the COVID-19 virus, the economic downturn and the fires – for you and how has it changed your outlook for the future?

The crisis we are experiencing during this time has reminded us how precious the human body is and how keeping it healthy is one of the key components for a human being to thrive.

Many of us are changing our eating habits, consuming more vegetables, and exercising more. We are now thinking of the future, saving money when possible, gathering important documents, and having an emergency plan for any circumstance that pops up.

We may be a little more conscious of the footprint we are leaving behind and how our decisions are affecting other living beings.

We are more conscious of our relationships with each other. Although we practice social distancing and don’t have physical contact like we used to, I appreciate speaking with friends and co-workers and sharing stories about this most difficult time.

Indeed, 2020 has not been the best year, but it is giving us a vital lesson to be able to shape our future.

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