Will you come up sobbing or laughing?
OUT OF THE BLUES
by Maggie Boyle Judi
In the spring of 1995, on a sunny day in Moab, I was rinsing the sandy red dirt from my 16-year-old feet, after a calm and lazy raft trip on the Colorado River, when my peaceful reverie was broken by my good friend, Lupe Alba.
Lupe, being the competitive, fun loving, spontaneous girl that she still is, saw me tranquilly dipping my toes in the water and thought it would be much more fun if we both just took a swim. So she started running.
I could hear her coming. The paradox in sounds, of her swift feet pounding the river bank, and her joyous screeching, confused me as I stood up only to see her grinning and rushing at me, just before she wrapped her arms tightly around me and launched us both out in to the freezing Colorado. I had a choice to make in those first five bone-chilling seconds of delightful deluge: I could come up sobbing or I could come up laughing. Lucky for both of us, I laughed.
Such a story, one of many I could share, illustrates the gumption, the fiestiness, and let’s say the social skills that have propelled Lupe Alba Trujillo to be a hugely successful business owner in Las Vegas, NV.
Lupe grew up in the shadow of the beautiful La Sal mountains, the daughter of the late Narciso and Herlinda Alba. She was the Business Sterling Scholar from Monticello High School in 1996. However, her passion for business actually started on the first day of Mr. Palmer’s accounting class at MHS and with her first job, keeping the books at the San Juan Record.
She says of her new-found love, “I am one of those people if you give me a box of receipts, I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.”
She graduated from Utah State University in 1999 from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and from the University of Nevada Las Vegas College of Business in 2003.
In 2005, after building a successful CPA firm with a partner, Lupe says she woke up one morning and decided she wanted a change. An opportunity arose for her to work with a power couple on their wildly successful real estate business, learning how to broker the real estate deals.
When the couple asked her what a 1099 was, she quickly realized that the infrastructure of their finances needed some serious help. “I set them up with an accounting system, I trained their office manager on the day-to-day accounting, and caught them up on their late tax returns.”
The satisfaction of cleaning up and organizing the financial end of a multi-million dollar business inspired Lupe with a new idea.
“I thought, you know what, this would actually make a fantastic business, I can make a living setting up accounting systems for people and training people on how to use the system.” Her head was spinning with the possibilities of a unique way to manage accounting. Shortly thereafter, Lupe left her new job and in the New Year of 2006 began her company, KG& R Bookkeeping Solutions.
She explains her ingenious business plan this way, “We go out to a client’s office once a week for a whole day and we do payroll, accounts payable, etc. They will have a designated office space for us to show them what their finances will look like in 30 days…in 90 days.”
She is a portable CFO! The intimate relationship with her clients provides her with a sense of ownership, a stake in each business if you will. “If I have a client that I’ve been with for four or five years and they start to struggle…that keeps me up at night. I try to figure out ways that we can save some money or do things different. Their successes are my successes, but their failures are also my failures.”
The early days of her new business were right in the golden days of real estate and construction boom in Las Vegas. Just before the housing bust in 2008, Lupe’s business had ten employees. But inevitably the bottom fell out of the housing market and Lupe’s clients were losing money, leaving town, and going bankrupt.
Naturally she felt the fallout and by 2010, Lupe had downsized to just one other employee. Despite the failure of so many businesses all around her, Lupe’s inherent good nature and will to refuse failure kept her business afloat.
These days, she is back up to five employees, and so many clients, in fact, that she has never had to advertise. “We are completely word of mouth.”
She has also started a new business venture in supply with her husband Javier, who happens to be the Chief Lobbyist for the City of Henderson. The couple are parents to two little boys, Dominick, age five, and baby Enrique.
Her fledgling family echoes that of her time spent in La Sal and Monticello. Narciso passed away shortly after she started her business in 2006. Then her mother passed away from the complications of brain cancer she had battled for years. She keeps her memories of her parents and her hometown close in her heart.
Of her time at Monticello High School, Lupe says, “We were given such great one-on-one attention, and I think that we were all able to specialize in things we wanted to do.”
“I think also about the competitive spirit we had with each other as classmates. It wasn’t cutthroat competition it was healthy competition, because all of us wanted to do good, we all got to play sports, and be on student council.” She adds that these opportunities allowed Lupe and her classmates to discover early on what their strengths were.
And she knows her strengths well. Of those crazy years when her parents passed and her business slowed down, a time when some tend to rest on their laurels, Lupe relied heavily on the strengths she has acquired along the way. She said a lot of prayers, she remembers. And when asked how she managed she simply states, “I just dig in, and that’s what I do.”
Her approach to life, her positivity, zeal, and tenacity, reminds me of a time when I learned to look more towards the brighter side of things. It reminds me of a warm spring day, and a cold river, and a spunky friend that made me laugh.