Recently I had the privilege of listening to and gleaning from a panel of three business owners in Kern County, all who have one thing in common: their gender. All three are females who have spearheaded their businesses here in Kern for many years. As a young twenty-something, this is not abnormal for me to see or experience; women owning and running their own businesses. But I know it is unusual for many who grew up in a generation where women in the U.S. were considered of lesser-value, and treated as such. I won’t dive into that discussion, but it was a reality that dominated our American culture and still is an undercurrent in our society while influencing much of our world today.
I am encouraged and challenged by women who choose to lead the way in their field with passion as their fuel. Women who are born leaders, but have learned what it takes to lead by example with integrity and passion. They understand the level of commitment and drive that it takes to make a dream reality, even in this often times disheartening society. This is what I see in the three women who were a part of the “Female-owned Businesses” panel at our recent Alliance of Women in Energy luncheon—Tracy Leach, Owner of Providence Strategic Consulting, Inc. and Dagny Energy Group, Robin Brassfield-Cooper, Owner of Robin’s Envirovac, and Karen Martinez, Owner of Antrox Engineering, Inc. All three women live, work and play in Kern County but they also have something else in common—their love of working in the energy industry.
Tracy owns our public affairs firm, which assists businesses and organizations with strategic public outreach and communications, a lot of that business coming from the energy sector. She said she loves setting goals for our clients and achieving them, as well as building relationships with many amazing people in our community. Tracy is one of the hardest working people I know; she epitomizes hard work (full disclosure: I work here!). She said it herself, balance is hard to find. She attributes her struggle with balance to her drive and desire to satisfy our clients. But amidst the constant deadlines and client expectations, she manages to keep her sense of humor and let things roll.
Robin’s company has been assisting in oil field maintenance for about 16 years. She says their goal is, “Focusing on working safe and maintaining a clean safe work record.” As Robin spoke, I sensed her love for what she does and those that she works with. I also sensed the love and respect those in the room have for her. It was evident that she’s made a positive mark on Kern County and the business community. She is a woman that is well-respected. When asked what one thing she would have done differently when starting out, she replied “pursue my education.” Although Robin jumped into the workforce at a young age and now has an extremely successful business, she sees the importance and value of higher education. Robin embodies the passion and commitment needed to overcome obstacles along the way.
Karen owns Antrox Engineering, named after her two children, Anthony and Roxanne (adorable, right?). Karen is a consulting electrical engineer who specializes in electrical design for commercial, institutional, retail and industrial facilities, architectural lighting, solar plans, industrial control system design and programming, and renewable energy projects. This woman stays busy and seems to have a brain that functions on a whole other level from the average individual! She is brilliant, and her satisfied clients can attest to that. Karen quickly became someone that I respect and would trust as a consultant, someone that has the expertise as well as integrity.
When asked how to overcome the potential barriers that can stand in the way of being a woman and owning your own business, all three women agreed: “Work hard and prove yourself. That is what matters. When people see the hard work and a job well done, you will be respected and taken seriously.” Tracy, Robin and Karen lead three of an estimated 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. that produce more than $1.4 trillion in revenues, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN. I hope to see many more female-owned businesses sprout up all around Kern County and beyond in the years to come and I am assured that there are many women who are currently paving the way for generations of future businesswomen.
“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” – Anonymous
By Julie Bell, Office Manager/Project Coordinator