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Posted: January 01, 2011

Colorado Business Hall of Fame: Ann Padilla

Temp agency founder has deep connections with business, civic and arts groups

Maria Martin

Padilla_jan11.jpg

It's one of her favorite lines, Ann Padilla says with a laugh.

"When people ask me what business I was in, I give them a quick answer," says the retired founder and owner of Sunny Side/Temp Side. "I tell them I was in the business of helping people put food on the table and a roof over their heads."

Though she sold her business to a national chain four years ago, she's still as proud of her business as she was when she started it 35 years ago.
Because of her passion, as well as her compassion, she's been named to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame.

"Client companies would call and say they needed administrative support, or engineers. They might be looking for someone for six months or three years," says Padilla, whose given name is Mary Ann.

The employees the service hired out often became like family to the staff of 21 people.

"We recruited people through marketing," she says "About 90 percent of those were referrals, or people we had worked with before. It was a good deal all the way."

The key to her success, she says, was a great staff.

"They allowed me to get out in the community and help out," she says.

Over the years, Padilla has served on several boards. She's been involved with everything from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to the Mile High United Way. She produced a Hispanic community affairs program for KCNC-TV (CBS4) in Denver and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business. And those are just a few on a long list of achievements for the 67-year-old businesswoman.

These days, she's a trustee at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and counsels small- and women-owned business owners.

"If we don't give back, we really won't have much of a community," she says. "Financial support is important, but so is getting out there and volunteering. Our staff, even way back in the early years, worked all day, then got out and volunteered at night.

Padilla says she's also been blessed with a husband who has a great sense of humor and a sensible nature, she says.

"I'll come up with a crazy idea, and he'll say, ‘Hmmm, let me take a look at that,'" she says.

Over the years, Padilla has hired some of her siblings, in-laws, nephews and nieces to work at her business.

"People ask me, ‘How can you work with family?'" she says. "I say, ‘It's easy. They're all great friends. They're really talented. We were raised with the same work ethic.'"

Friend and former business partner Ronald Montoya has known Padilla for around 30 years. They've worked together both as business owners and volunteers with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver and other business groups.

"She's a dynamic leader, a clear thinker and a sympathetic soul," he says. "She cares about people. You can't ask for a better friend. I'm her No. 1 fan. She's a happy person, and you can't help but feel joy when you're with her."

Padilla notes that most of the people working for her were employed by the company that bought Sunny Side/Temp Side.

"Why wouldn't they be?" she says. "They were a tremendous group of people who believed in what they were doing. The attitude that I had, and every one of my staffers had, is that there's dignity in our work, and there's dignity in every individual who walked through our door."

Padilla pauses and clears her throat, as if gathering her thoughts.

"I'm in my 60s, and I stay active," she says. "But I loved my job. And I loved the people who came through our doors and the people who worked with me. They were all the finest of people."

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Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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