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Icela Martin of Napa's Agricultura Safety wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Icela Martin

Health & Safety Consultant/CEO

Agricultura Safety

811 Jefferson Street Napa 94559

707-731-7276

www.agriculturasafety.com

Icela Martin of Napa's Agricultura Safety said her journey started when she was fired for having a second job.

Professional background: Loss control, labor management consultant

Education: Some college (no degree)

Staff: None

Biography: My career commenced in 2005 with a Napa Valley farm labor contractor as a Human Resources/Safety Coordinator.

This is where I found my calling for farm safety. Agricultura safety came to me many years before I went into business. I knew I wanted to own my own business, but I couldn’t because I didn’t believe in myself -if anyone would hire me and I was a woman of color doing business mainly with Anglo farmers and ranchers and their employees were mainly Latino (macho may I add) men in the state of California, Arizona and Oregon.

Also, I was low income living (having just survived homelessness a few years prior) in a shared rental with no real assets to pull it off with.

My journey started when I was fired from a company – for having a side job. I cried in the parking lot and asked myself, “What am I going to do?”

Through the rear view mirror and I could see a small vineyard behind me (and the bright ideas came flying in) and while I whipped my tears away I pulled myself together and drove into town – filed for my business license with the city/county and published in the paper (spending next month’s rent money- not knowing if I could pull it off).

I went into business that same day and I haven’t looked back.

I run a health and safety consultancy firm mainly for agriculture businesses in Napa and render services in Northern, central valley and central coast of California.

I am the second in my family (my father being the first) who has ventured to start my own small business practice. I train over 1000+ employees yearround. I provide on-site safety audits, heavy equipment certifications, pesticide applicators training, Heat illness prevention, and various employee trainings to name a few. I’ve put on leadership seminars for supervisors and those that want to lead with purpose. I am dedicated advocate for farm workers health and safety for our fields.

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

When I opened up my business I started in my home a few years back and soon found out I had to move it out and I did - I found an office to expand and I did my ribbon cutting a day before the fires and thought I would never survive the whirlwind of events that followed.

I am a true volunteer at heart – I went around protecting my fieldworkers with masks (many people including a lady out of Texas sent N-95 masks).

I had a truck full. I volunteered tirelessly at Napa Valley College and soon realized I was not working in my line of work for over 3.5 months. I came back to work and the community and God responded to my business and I have been here not missing a beat.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Being a minority in so many ways (divorced mother of two, low income, Latina) and opened my business against so many odds/obstacles that may have come my way.

Icela Martin

Health & Safety Consultant/CEO

Agricultura Safety

811 Jefferson Street Napa 94559

707-731-7276

www.agriculturasafety.com

What is your biggest challenge today?

My biggest challenge is doing everything else in the business that doesn’t pertain to safety-where it takes away from the classroom such as marketing, accounting-bookkeeping, office administration. I personally feel as a sole prop going into the corporate world- that everyone faces this challenge and all we need to do to is work a little bit harder to get our 1st employee to come work for us.

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?

More and more Latino/x are going into business and my perception is that I were becoming fearless and taking the challenges to jump.

Challenges: there is always a stigma out there that if one business gives away their secrets the next business will thrive and take away their credit.

So, what! Let it happen we should be happy there are Latinos willing to put in the work, the late nights, our personal time to invest in our community. Bringing a business to any community and wanting it to thrive – is huge!

Community investment is a real thing. There is a definite need for supporting our small business leaders and holding their hands for as long as we need to hold them for. So many associations out there – which ones are the true associations that will stretch my membership dollars and output member services to what my business is looking for and needs.

Words that best describe you: Tenacious. Fearless. Ingenious. Altruistic. Charitable. Community-driven. Independent. Admirable. Generous. Astute. Insightful. Funny. Committed. Purposeful. Trustworthy.

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

Each employee death out in the fields is the reason why I am here. Each time I was told I was a woman, or that I was too young to tell a 50+, 60+ year old male farmworker how to operate a forklift or skid steer safety, I was persistent. I was hardheaded and I kept telling them and I kept showing up. I did not lose hope I could make headway with my trainees.

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

I feel more women will be in my profession – through California. I have definitely met them but they haven’t taken the leap. There will be more competition, but I want us to get out here and take care of business. Tablets/computers will replace paper in my classrooms – and technology will soon reign. It can’t come soon enough but it will definitely streamline much of the work for many of us.

Who was your most important mentor?

Louie (Luis) Uribe is a genuine man that lives in the wonderful city of Greenfield, CA. Although we never worked together – we have the same career in the business of safety. If he picked up the phone to call me and let me know I am the “Can Do” lady…I always felt he called at the right time to give me divine messages from up above. He never knew he was always calling during dark times of hardships and downfalls.

But he would talk for a good half hour each time to remind me that my job was to always work from my heart.

His reminders have never been overseen and they are forever moments that will never be erased. I know where I started and I always remember who was behind me.

Gracias Louie. Your calls, your time has never been overlooked you have been my cheerleader, and an inspiration for so many years without you knowing!

Tell us about your community involvement: I have a radio show called “La Hora” with Icela (the hour with Icela) on 1440 AM it’s a Spanglish radio show. We highlight happenings in and around Napa and the Bay Area.

Topics range from services to history and music, and issues affecting our Latinx/o community (with no political influences). I am trying to set a tone - the same radio stations I hear when I get into Southern California because if they can – so can we!

I am a board member for Napa Valley Unified School District Board of trustees on my first term – fourth year.

I sit on the board with Napa County Hispanic Network helping those first-generation Latino/x students go to college by raising funds and providing scholarships. Napa Valley Latino Heritage Committee – I sit with them to strategize on building a community calendar with events highlighting our community Latino/x events happening in and around our community the link is below https://www.napacountyhispanicnetwork.org/english-calendar-of-events.

I work generously with the Napa County Farm Bureau and in the same building as my office.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Education is a major key to success. I am self-made and I feel I am working double or even triple of what I had to should I had given education more of my love growing up. Opening a business should have happened for me in my twenties not my mid-thirties and it shouldn’t have been this hard either. Taking that leap starts with having a firm foundation and someone rooting in your corner (even if it’s the small voice in your head) telling you to go and get what is yours. I encourage you to take the next step!

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: My father, Jose Guadalupe Martin. My father was (retired now) a landscaper who opened his business without reading or writing the English language. He spoke it very well and was persistent in working, invoicing as he could, and having wonderful customer service to his clients. Although reading and writing was a challenge, he made it work for five sibling and my mother – who was in business as a homemaker.

Current reading: “The virtuous circle: What you are looking for is already in you” by Gaby Natale

Most want to meet: Alejandro González Iñárritu, director, screenwriter and producer

Stress relievers: Getting out of town, sleeping in. Listening to the ocean, dancing to cumbias, singing rancheras.

Favorite hobbies: I love to sing at home and rarely in front of people (I should) on my free time (which is hardly ever).

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

I have two young men Demetrio Martin, who just graduated Marine Corps and is heading to North Carolina in two weeks. JJ Fernandez Martin who is a senior this year and is entertaining the idea of joining the Marine Corps as well.

I am a daughter to Jose G. Martin and Hortensia Martin. Siblings Jessica Martin (sister in law Lara Vidal), Veronica Regalado (brother in law Juan Regalado & two nephews Isaias & Dameion), Erika and Jose Junior Martin. Craig Schnabel and beautiful daughter Isabella Schnabel – everyone named here is my rock and support system since day 1.

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