A Remarkable Journey
By Cristobal Tinoco
The winter of 2017 was for me a time of new challenges, excitement, and uncertainties. I had just transferred to ASU to complete my bachelor’s degree, and was also looking for
employment — with the goal of finding a company that valued education and promoted self-empowerment. I quickly discovered that this was more difficult than I had anticipated, because many employers just want someone to perform specific tasks rather than come up with new ideas and innovations. In addition, few companies seemed willing to work with a student’s hectic schedule.
When I found an opening at Agave, however, my life turned around completely, and I finally achieved the goals I had set for myself. At Agave, education always comes first; I started my experience in 2017 by joining the estimating team led by Ernie Uranga, a well-respected name in the industry, from whom I acquired vast knowledge in top-tier estimating practices and became familiar with architectural plans. Leaving things for another day instead of addressing our clients’ concerns was not tolerated, and this philosophy helped me build discipline and become more accountable, making my work ethic even stronger.
Aside from discipline, Agave values critical thinking and innovation, which differentiate us from many competitors. Agave disrupted the landscape industry in Arizona in the 90s and early 2000s with a technique called assisted digging, which uses machinery to process native plant materials, resulting in exponentially lower prices for customers.
After nearly two years in estimating and with my graduation approaching, Agave’s management and ownership took a personal interest in me and thought I would be a good fit for project management. This new job role came with duties that allow me to display my strengths, including communication, negotiating lead times, broadening our vendor and subcontractor channels, purchasing, and working and coordinating directly with other employees and solving problems for our clients. This position and the empowerment Agave give me validated my decision to start my career with the company.
After graduating from college with a degree in Business, many of my friends went to work at Fortune 500 corporations, but today many express frustration with their lack of opportunities and involvement in the way their organization is run. However, I found that joining a local company with a rich work culture and innovative projects proved to be far more beneficial. Agave made an offer to me which made it easy not to consider leaving the company; in addition, I knew that this was a place where my voice would be heard, and with a strong work ethic, I could quickly become a leader.
I was not wrong. AEC is a place that allows individuals to meet their professional needs and develop personal skill sets that can turn into leadership opportunities. I have been able to bring my educational experience to my workplace as well as work on innovative projects, such as Agave’s nonprofit Urban Farming Education initiative and the 6-month remodeling of our office. Moreover, I have often been included in the planning process — opportunities a young college graduate just wouldn’t have in a larger, more inflexible corporation. Three years into my career with Agave, I can proudly say that I have found an organization with a solid and well-designed work culture that provides the means to make my dreams a reality.
The main reason is that this is not just a landscape company; it is a company national developers recognize and trust, a company with a community approach that always looks to give back to those in need. I could not imagine a better, more diverse and dynamic company to start my career with, and feel three years here was worth as much as the four years spent at college — and maybe more.
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