Maria Rios, Latina Entrepreneurial Powerhouse, Shatters Another Glass Ceiling, As She Is Awarded a Multi-Million Dollar Contract with the City of Houston

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From the trash site to the White House, Rios, President & CEO of Nation Waste, Inc., has emerged as one of Houston’s fastest-growing minority and woman-owned companies.

Maria Rios

Truly, this is a special day because it represents another milestone for me as a business woman and for the people that have built Nation Waste to what it is today.

Maria Rios got the call. She won a multi-million dollar contract providing portable sanitation facilities to the City of Houston. “In the beginning this wouldn’t have seemed like a reality when I was literally wearing every hat in the business—marketing, sales, accounting…you name it,” said Rios. “Now, I can focus on just wearing the hard hat. Truly, this is a special day because it represents another milestone for me as a business woman and for the people that have built Nation Waste, Inc. to what it is today.” Strategically, Rios has evolved from a waste removal service to a waste removal solutions provider.

Rios, who emigrated from El Salvador as a child with her parents, came to the United States to pursue a better life and an education. Ultimately, she received her BA from the University of Houston. While attending college, Rios worked with a large company in the waste removal industry. Upon graduation, Rios began Nation Waste, Inc. with the purchase of two waste removal trucks and with a mindset to provide an optimal level of customer service, which would set her apart in the industry.

A few years back, Rios realized her minority-owned business had the maturity and capacity to pursue certification and procurement opportunities with corporate and governmental sectors in Houston and the State of Texas. One by one, she began compiling certifications. Nation Waste, Inc. is certified as a Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) and as a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) with the cities of Houston, Sugar Land, and Baytown; as well as with the Port of Houston Authority, Metro, the Houston Independent School District, and the State of Texas. Also, Nation Waste Inc. is a Historically Underutilized Business with the State of Texas.

Alongside pursuing certification and procurement options, Rios focused her attention on growing her business and civic leadership. She assumed an Executive Board of Director position at the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HHCC), the largest Hispanic Chamber in the country. In 2011 Rios was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative, which was delivered through the City of Houston, Goldman Sachs, Houston Community College (HCC), the HHCC, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), the University of Houston Small Business Development Center and the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC). “I am thrilled that Mayor Parker and others brought the Goldman Sachs's 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative to Houston. I was one of the first companies to participate. This program has been a catalyst for my plan to expand my business in Houston and across Texas.”

Feeling confident that her business had the capacity to handle the big time, Rios set her sights on the coveted government contracts provided by the City of Houston. “Since 2011, Nation Waste Inc. has grown 30% because of resources provided by the City of Houston and its partners. I learned of the City's commitment to creating a competitive and diverse business environment and how my minority and women status could help my company grow. I became certified as a Minority and Women Business Enterprise, and right away my company was listed in the City of Houston's Online Directory of Certified Businesses. Shortly thereafter, the opportunities started coming my way in both public and private sectors,” said Rios. Looking for resources to support her company, Rios turned to the City of Houston’s new job platform, Tweet My Jobs, Houston! The platform allowed Rios to post open positions at Nation Waste Inc. for free saving the company thousands of dollars in recruitment fees and helped bring on board experienced local people. “It is incredible how many resources the City provides to small businesses and how their innovation saves me money and helps my company grow,” remarked Rios.

At the end of the day, Rios has never forgotten her business beginnings 15 years ago. “Every day, when I see my fleet of trucks, I never forget about the first two and the dreams I set out to accomplish. Back then, I had glass ceilings that were miles up. Now, they are within reach, and I am thrilled that I shattered another one today.”

About Nation Waste, Inc.:
Nation Waste, Inc. is a fully-certified commercial waste disposal company specializing in commercial and industrial solid waste removal and recycling services. Nation Waste, Inc. offers a full range of compactor, front-end load dumpsters, large roll-off waste container solutions, and a variety of portable sanitation facilities for commercial, industrial, government, office, emergency relief, special event venues, and television and film production. Nation Waste, Inc. is certified as a Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) and as a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) with the Cities of Houston, Sugar Land, and Baytown; Port of Houston Authority, Metro and the Houston Independent School District. Nation Waste Inc. is in compliance as a Historically Underutilized Business with the State of Texas.

About Maria Rios:
Maria Rios has received numerous professional accolades. She was selected as one of the 2013 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. In 2012 Rios was named as one of Houston’s Most Influential Women by Houston Woman Magazine. Other honors include the Gold Medal Business Woman of the Year Award from the President of the United States Business Advisory Committee; Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the White House National Congressional Committee; Female Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the Gold Star Award by the Better Business Bureau, the State of Texas Small Business Award for “Best Practices: Business Skills” and “Model for Business Skills Use” from the Office of the Governor and the Texas Workforce Commission.

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