July 23, 2014

La Florida

An American Dream: A Latina-owned business

The largest Latina-owned business in the nation is Carmen Castillo's SDI International.

Mike Vogel | 5/3/2013

Carmen Castillo’s Florida headquarters has just a few employees. "With technology, we don't have to have our people in here. I’m here because I like the warm weather because I grew up on an island," she says. Florida also isn’t a great market. "An entire solution only works for very large corporations, and there are not too many large corporations here," she says.

One thing she sees coming up: More onshoring as costs in offshore countries rise and as domestic companies see a value proposition that includes competitive prices plus innovation and creativity.

"The outsourcing days are starting to tumble a bit," she says. "Countries are not as competitive anymore. With all the hacking, you can't trust them anymore. Their salaries get going. They're not loyal. If someone offers them a dollar more a day, they're going to drop you in a day. They're starting to sue employers more than ever. They are learning the American way. They are learning all the bad things about America in a hurry."

In growth times, her business prospers as companies outsource more. In recessionary times, she prospers as companies cut staff and hire her to save money. "Whether the economy is doing good or bad, we're fine either way," she says. "I never blame the economy for anything. I hate when people blame the economy or blame politicians or this and that. Forget it. Blame yourself. You figure out a way to keep doing right things."

Carmen Castillo

Age: 50

Time Off: Went back to Mallorca for Easter to see her family

Family: Divorced, no children

On Women Business Owners:
She’s much in demand as a speaker at conferences on women in business. “There are incredible women business owners overseas. I remember being at a conference last year in South Africa. It was a conference to promote women in business within the continent of Africa. There was this lady from Nigeria. She makes airplane parts, believe it or not. I said you need to be more visible; this is remarkable. That woman particularly caught my eye because she was raped when she was a baby. Her mother died giving birth to another sibling. Took care of like 10 brothers or sisters. Moved to a different village to go to school. What that woman has accomplished … but they don’t have the visibility and the press. (The press doesn’t) care much about women in those countries. In India, there are lots and lots of women in technology, believe it or not. In China, there are quite a lot of women in business. It’s not even comparable to what the guys are doing, but we’re getting there.”

Tags: La Florida, Hispanics in Florida

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