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WIPP Member Spotlight - Jeanette Hernandez Prenger

Posted By Laura Berry, Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Jeanette Hernandez Prenger 
President & CEO
ECCO Select
WIPP Member Since 2012

 

Join us for the October Community Connection webinar on October 21 at 2 PM ET to hear Jeanette’s discussion with WIPP leadership.

 

Jeanette Prenger

This is an unprecedented time. How has the global COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?

We have been extremely fortunate in how we have navigated through this time. I must admit, the first couple of weeks were unsettling. Some of our clients were drastically affected by the shutdown. Their own client portfolios consist of industries that were negatively affected in a very severe way. Their return to normal will take longer than some others. We had quite a few contractors released during the first couple of weeks that were within those industries hit the hardest. 

We worked with a sense of urgency and knew which clients would have an increased demand due to the pandemic. We focused on those industries and offered our clients several options to help support business continuity. 

The pandemic has enabled me to look back at similar challenges we faced after 9/11. One of the first things we did was to look at how quickly we could reduce variable expenses. I was so naïve about the consequences of how hard 9/11 impacted our economy. I thought we would be back to normal in a short period of time. I should have reduced headcount and gone through additional cost-cutting measures much sooner. 

When our country shut down due to the pandemic, we immediately knew that we would have to go on a drastic cost reduction exercise. We did not need to reduce headcount, but we did reduce expenses, and that enabled us to be in a better cash flow position to survive this economic environment for a much longer period.  

I am proud to say that we are tracking better than budgeted for the year due to our sense of urgency. We have also seen how well we can work from home as we have maintained or exceeded productivity prior to the pandemic. Like other companies that chose to allow associates back in the office, we offer a choice of where they work as well as flex time. For those who come into our office, we practice social distancing and follow local guidelines to provide a safe and healthy environment.  


How has WIPP helped during this time? 

The emails and webinars have allowed us to stay connected and informed with what is going on across the country, as well as within our government. Knowing what our elected leaders are contemplating as well as understanding bills that have passed and policies coming out of D.C., allows us to identify how we are affected and if we need to do anything different in our operations. Having the ability to hear how this affects us as women business owners is a huge asset in helping us make business decisions.

Thank you for being a leader in our community, including sitting on the Board and LAC, testifying before Congress, and referring new members. How has WIPP’s advocacy and updates assisted you in developing your business or becoming more profitable?

I love meeting other women business owners. I learn so much from their stories, successes, and challenges. We have formed relationships with a couple of other WIPP members and we continue to look for businesses who complement our offerings and can be potential teaming partners.  

I read and distribute the advocacy and updates communicated to our WIPP members to my executive team. They glean applicable content and share with their organizations. WIPP communications have been timely and have motivated me to become better acquainted with my elected officials so that they know how their decisions affect entrepreneurs. If I did not have access to this information, I would be unaware of key decisions or conversations that could negatively impact women-owned businesses or could be unfavorable to entrepreneurs.

What are some common hurdles you see for women business owners? 

One of the hurdles I see for women business owners is accelerated growth and access to capital. We do not see very many women-owned businesses with exponential growth unless they take on investors. I have questioned my own growth strategy and struggled with the thought of bringing on investors to fund mergers and acquisitions. Do I self-fund when money is so cheap? Do I try to continue to grow organically? I would love to see how my story compares to other successful businesses. 

Would you share your proudest moment as a business owner?

A lot of proud moments come to mind when I think about being in business for almost 25 years. I think my proudest moment as a business owner was when we moved into a commercial building that we purchased. So many of my associates complimented us on our investment. They viewed the purchase as our commitment to growing a legacy business with a culture that promotes continuous improvement and excellence in all that we do. 

There is a sense of security that comes from being in a company that works like a family. We work hard to do our best, not only for ourselves but for our families, this business, and our community.

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. Find others in your industry and view them as potential partners, not competitors. 

This organization is an asset for women business owners and should be part of your portfolio of membership organizations. The information, data, and educational webinars support our businesses in understanding the political environment, policies, and decisions that affect us. It is also a great networking organization that encourages professional and business development opportunities.

 


ECCO Select

Learn more about Jeanette and her team at ECCO Select at https://www.eccoselect.com.

 
Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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