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March 5, 2018 Business leaders of the year

Lopez grew up in business, community advocacy

Photo | Nathan Fiske Rachel Lopez

Back when Resource Management Inc. was a fledgling company trying to get off the ground with just a single full-time worker, Rachel Lopez was counted on to process its clients’ payroll.

She was all of 14 at the time.

“I really enjoyed coming in to work with my father,” Lopez said. “It was kind of a thrilling experience to be a part of it from the inception,” she added, calling herself “a passenger in this whole journey.”

CEO Reinaldo Lopez started the company in 1995, and his daughter has been there throughout its history. Last year, she was promoted to the company’s No. 2 spot as president, where she oversees operations, including the potential addition of new markets, either geographically or into new areas like deferred compensation plans.

The promotion was part of a big year for Lopez, who in July was appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to his 27-member Latino Advisory Commission.

“I have been impressed with Rachel’s leadership and commitment to helping not only the Latino community succeed, but all residents of the commonwealth,” said Framingham State University President Javier Cevallos, who serves with Lopez on the commission.

The group advocates for the prosperity and wellbeing of the state’s Latino community by pushing initiatives like English as a second language school programs. The members meet quarterly and are tasked with presenting a report with findings and priorities to Baker.

“We have some really remarkable people who have a genuine desire to implement change,” Lopez said.

Lopez, a mother of two who grew up and still lives in Fitchburg, embraced a role as a leader in the Latino business community as the second-in-charge of the largest minority-owned business in Central Massachusetts.

“It can highlight the fact that if you have the desire and a community that’s supportive, all the hard work can pay off,” Lopez said. “People root for you, and they want to see you succeed.”

Lopez also serves on the boards of the Fitchburg Art Museum and Centro, a Worcester services agency.

RMI has about 50 employees to help the company’s clients with human resources, payroll, risk management, accounting and other needs. Its clients – from auto body shops to lawyers and doctor’s offices – are spread across 38 states and have a combined 6,000 employees.

If it could sound like helping get RMI off the ground was a lot of work for 14-year-old Rachel Lopez, she didn’t see it that way.

“It grounded me,” she said of the responsibility then. “It gave me good structure, and a really good foundation to grow off of that in due time.”

Lopez went from payroll to human resources, then workers’ compensation. She’s been the head of the sales and implementation department, bringing in new clients. She now looks back fondly on her and RMI’s start and how far they’ve come under her father’s leadership.

“Some of that vision, drive and desire to make something on his company rubbed off on me, without a doubt,” Lopez said.

Similarly, those who’ve worked with Lopez see how much pride she takes in leading the company forward, too.

“Rachel’s always been a great resource to go to,” said Rocco Mammone, RMI’s human resources supervisor and an employee since 2010.

“I’ve seen her do sales, overseeing the workers’ comp department,” he added, “being out there and being a great asset for the company, and being vocal for networking.”

Alexander Diaz, RMI’s implementation team leader and an employee since 2015, called Lopez an effective communicator who gives workers leeway to make their own decisions on most matters.

“She puts people in places where they can succeed. She empowers people to excel,” he said.

That creates an environment where people love to work, Diaz said.

“Everybody has this positive attitude, a respectful attitude,” he said. “Everyone has the utmost respect for each other.”

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