It is said that long-term employees reflect a stable work environment and a great degree of employee satisfaction.
But for Juan Andres Galarraga, Chief Financial Officer of Doral-based Prime Group Holdings, it’s not just a matter of being happy on the job, working here has become an extension of his family.
Galarraga celebrated his 20th anniversary Oct. 12, in good company, with Prime Group executives and management, sharing stories of the “good old days.” After all, he was just 20 years old when he joined this promising start-up in a tight little office in Quito focusing on the flower trade.
Right in line after the company’s first two employees, founders Roger Paredes and Omar Zambrano, Galarraga got onboard in October of 1999 for the ride of a lifetime, quite literally. Along the way, through the ups and downs of business, they also became great friends.
A Family Affair
“But it goes further with me. Over the years, Roger and Omar not only became close friends, they became like a family. And I am so grateful to be a part of it all.”
As a result, Galarraga carries the title “Employee Number 3” – a designation he proudly touts to this day, and plans to hold onto for at least another 20 years.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” he says. “Amazing work and the reassuring feeling of family.
From his long-time perspective, Galarraga sees how most employees also have a great sense of camaraderie, of being part of something big and exciting – as the company expands across the globe with new services and products.
“Their ongoing passion and commitment to this company, something I have witnessed firsthand in Roger and Omar for years, makes a big impression on the employee group every day,” he added.
For Galarraga’s part, he brings great passion to the job, as well. “Don’t get me wrong, I have total commitment to this company, one that comes from dedication to the field of finance – but mostly it’s out of loyalty to the partners.”
Paredes says he normally would prepare remarks in advance of such an occasion, but because it was more a “family reunion” than a formal affair, he chose to speak directly from the heart.
Reflecting on Galarraga’s humble beginnings, he noted, “We were all just a bunch of very young men… But from the very beginning, through all the good times and tough times, to this very day, we remain grateful for the talent and contributions he brings to our company.”
Starting basically as a messenger, Galarraga signed on during college. And quite soon after, while the ink was still wet on his financial engineering diploma, he moved directly into working full time with their flower-trading venture, all the while taking on more and more responsibilities.
He was there for the launch of PrimeAir, the first of what would become four divisions of the Prime Group. By 2006, Galarraga and his wife transferred from Ecuador to the company’s headquarters in Miami in search of new opportunities, and began a family here.
“With Omar overseeing operations and Roger on the commercial side, my place has always been right in the middle, working directly with both of them, serving as a conduit – and smoothing communications when needed,” he said.
“It’s almost too much to fathom, but half of my life has been with this company,” Galarraga shared. “The opportunities they’ve given me are nothing short of amazing. And as the company grows, I also get to grow, both personally and professionally.”
In fact, just last month, Galarraga was appointed CFO for the entire Group, consisting of PrimeAir, Prime Air & Ocean Cargo, Prime Fresh Handling, and Prime Fresh Products.
In his new capacity, Galarraga will not only continue to ensure that all business processes are in place and functioning well, but he will now focus more on the bigger picture – financial strategies that will help Prime Group continue to grow and prosper well into the future.
Says Galarraga, “We work incredibly well together. They trust me entirely and I trust them also. It’s a perfect equation.”
Paredes agrees. “It is so very important to find someone you can totally trust – someone like Juan who fights for us as though it’s his own money. That’s a good thing… Congratulations, Juan!”