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Latina Entrepreneur Makes Mark in Printing Industry


Starting a business is difficult, and women entrepreneurs can face added obstacles. But one woman business owner has found success in an industry dominated by men -- industrial-scale printing.

At a facility in central Los Angeles, Carmen Rad said she is one of a handful of women who do large-scale printing in the United States, and one of the few who is Hispanic. She was born in Puerto Rico, a Spanish-speaking U.S. territory. Her company, called CR&A Custom, creates some of the oversized banners and posters at nearby Staples Center arena and the surrounding entertainment district called L.A. Live.

She said her corporate customers are sometimes surprised when they first meet her.

“They do not usually imagine a Latina woman owning equipment at this scale, so that is an obstacle that I do face,” said Rad.

She said people are impressed at the size of her operation. Printers that cost as much as $1 million can print posters more than three meters wide.

Rad’s company also designs graphics and creates paper cut-outs for marketing campaigns. It covered a U.S. government building in San Diego with a printed fabric and framing.

Rad has faced difficult times in the 20 years since she founded the company. She began by making jerseys and specialty clothing, but competition from China led her out of the clothing and into the printing business.

“Like any small business, you have your peaks and your valleys. So I have done really well and then I have been really broke,” said Rad.

She said the job of an entrepreneur brings added responsibility, in her case overseeing a staff of 40 workers.

“People think, oh, you are the boss, you are going to work less. You will work more than anyone else in your company because now you are responsible for so many others,” said Rad.

This is one of three million Hispanic-owned small businesses in the United States, and the number is growing by the decade, said the chairman of the Latino Coalition, Hector Barreto. The organization recently hosted a panel on Latino women in business.

“Those three million Hispanic businesses are scheduled to double every five years, so three million will turn into 12 million Hispanic businesses, not just in California, Texas and Florida, but all across the United States,” said Barreto.

He said many of them are owned by women. Rad said she is working in an industry that she could not have envisioned when she started her company.

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