SBA Women in Business Champion Award

Contributed by

Savannah Wilburn, SBA

Sylvia Martinez, owner and chief executive officer for Altomar Home Healthcare, celebrated her and her company’s success at the U.S. Small Business Administration El Paso Small Business Week awards on May 5.  Martinez was selected as the Region VI 2016 SBA Women in Business Champion.  The purpose of this award is to honor an individual who has fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership by: actively supporting legislative or regulatory actions designed to help small businesses, increasing business and financial opportunities for women, exhibiting financial assistance provided to enhance women’s business ownerships, and volunteering and advocating for women-owned businesses in the community.

Altomar Home Healthcare provides skilled nurses, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social workers, and home health aides to care for both children and adults.  The company started in 1999 after branching off from another family healthcare business, AM Healthcare.  Martinez noticed there was a need in El Paso for home healthcare for children, which is what prompted opening her own business.  The company started with four employees and ten clients and has 90 employees and over 400 clients today.

“We try to treat everyone like family, because the golden rule is, treat others like you want to be treated.  We need to treat people with dignity and respect like they were a member of our own family,” said Martinez.  “We see patients at their most tender times, when they are going through a devastating diagnosis, recent accident, or recovering from surgery and we need to help them during that difficult time.”

In addition to receiving an SBA award, Martinez also utilized SBA loan programs and the Women’s Business Border Center, an SBA resource partner located at the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Martinez received two loans, a line of credit of $150,000 through the SBA CapLine program, and a 504 loan of $455,000 that was used to purchase their office building and conduct renovations.

“The SBA Capline helped us tremendously during the times where there were issues with healthcare reimbursement. I remember when there was an issue with Medicaid that specifically affected home health. We were really grateful that we had that line of credit to use until the issue was straightened out,” said Martinez.

In addition to reimbursement issues, Altomar also struggled to stay on top of the latest health insurance requirements for small business owners. Despite these obstacles, Altomar’s revenue continues to grow each year.  Their revenues have increased from $5 million to $7.7 million since receiving their first SBA loan.  In addition to growing revenues, Martinez enjoys the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning a small business.

“I like that I am able to make my own decisions when it comes to the direction I’d like the business to take,” stated Martinez.

Martinez also worked for Providence Memorial Hospital as a registered nurse prior to deciding to become an entrepreneur.

“If you are thinking of starting a business, just prepare to put in long hours and educate yourself as much as you can on managing a business,” said Martinez. “I was a nurse prior to being a business owner, so I did not know how to manage a business at first. I had to learn the hard way.”