Award winner shares business advice

ROCHESTER — As Rochester Hispanic Business Association’s Business Person of the Year, Sergio Estéban has three pieces of advice for running a successful business.

During his speech at the RHBA’s annual luncheon on Sept. 25, Estéban advised staying true to your values, treating people and clients like one would want to be treated, and giving back to the community. Estéban is chairman and chief executive officer of LaBella Associates.

"It’s not a nice thing to do, it’s a responsibility we all have," he said of donating time and money to local organizations. "It’s very important … to make the community even better than what it is today."

Estéban is a former RHBA president and is a member of several boards of directors including Nazareth College, Monroe Community College Foundation and Rochester Rotary Club. He is the incoming chairman of Geva Theatre’s board of trustees.

Grace Tillinghast, RHBA’s president, said that she was honored to finally present Estéban with the award at the luncheon held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. José Maria Cirujano, a fellow Spaniard and vice president of operations for Iberdrola USA, was the keynote speaker. Iberdrola is Rochester Gas & Electric Corp.’s parent company.

Estéban is so humble, Tilllinghast noted, that he always felt there were more worthy honorees when he was nominated in past years. This year, she called him and simply told him he was the honoree, she explained.

"He exhibits all the qualities of a leader," she added. "He is capable. He is responsible. He is humble. … And he always treats everyone he meets with great respect."

Sal LaBella, who created LaBella Associates, said that Estéban exhibits a level of energy that few can emulate.

"He is dedicated to the people, that’s what energizes him," LaBella added. "Being around people and helping people grow — he’s very good at that."

Estéban said that he is proud to say he learned his values from his father.

"He was a person for everybody," Estéban said. "He was just a wonderful example."

Father Tony Mugavero, pastor of Holy Apostles Church, said that Estéban is following in his father’s footsteps of being a good role model for the entire community.

"It’s so inspiring to be with someone so accomplished, who has his value systems, who is so people-oriented," added Father Mugavero, who said the invocation and closing prayer. "What a blessing."

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