Byline: Nancy Salem email@example.com / 823-3675
Edna Lopez never set out to run her own business, but circumstance changed her goals. Now Compa Industries, which her husband founded, is thriving.
Last year was a great one for Compa Industries Inc.
Edna Lopez's Albuquerque company was named outstanding small business of 2002 by the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, vendor of the year by Sandia National Laboratories and one of the state's top 25 woman-owned companies by New Mexico Woman magazine.
Lopez smiled through the applause and graciously accepted the honors, but the success was bittersweet.
Compa was the dream of her husband, Rene LaForm Lopez. A kid from an El Paso barrio, Lopez built his management services company after working for more than two decades in nuclear engineering for giants like Bechtel Corp.
Edna was a traditional wife and mother.
She raised five sons, was active in church and schools, volunteered and worked odd jobs during the lean times.
Rene was killed in 1996, at age 53, in an auto accident near Las Cruces. The death of the charismatic businessman sent the Lopezes reeling.
"He was the commander of the family and the business," said son Daniel Jensenlopez.
Edna faced a difficult decision. She could shut down Compa and stay home, or go into a line of work she knew better, such as teaching. Seven family members were employed by Compa, three of whom had relocated to Albuquerque from California.
"If I was a different kind of person, I'd say, 'Heck with those guys. I'm out of here,'" she said.
Edna took over.
"I really didn't want to do the business," she said. "I thought I'd step in for a couple of years and turn it over to my sons. I wanted to finish raising my youngest and take care of my family."
But Edna's business chops were easily …