Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Rosa Lopez

RML Company

New Hyde Park, New York

“My loan consultant would always explain everything to me and walk me through things. For me, it’s always Ascendus. I don’t go to anyone else. I recommend Ascendus to everyone.” –Rosa Lopez


In 2011, Rosa was laid off from her job. She was working as an analyst in downtown Manhattan, a position she had held for 13 years. In her final year working, Rosa’s father became ill and Rosa began to devote more and more time to caring for him. With the Family Leave Act still new and less effective, Rosa had no choice but to juggle a full-time job and taking care of her family, a circumstance she believes influenced her termination. For Rosa, the news of being let go was devastating and confusing. “I felt like I had worked so hard and I wondered “why did they let me go? I did everything right,” she explained.

Feeling rejected and unappreciated by the corporate world, Rosa decided to embark on a complete career transition. “I was there for thirteen years and to have received this smack in the face, I just thought I don’t want to do this anymore. I did everything right and I was still being laid off?. I thought, I’d rather just work for myself.” The transition came in the form of RML company, a duct cleaning business which Rosa had started three years prior at the request of her boyfriend. Because of her full-time job, Rosa’s investment to her business was limited. Yet after being let go, Rosa challenged the expectations her boyfriend and business partner had of her role in the company by dedicating herself completely to the business.


When Rosa decided she would take the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) certification test, her boyfriend had already taken and passed it, meaning that her company was already certified. Yet relying on someone else’s certification was not enough for Rosa. She was determined to assert her independence within the company and be able to depend solely on herself.

With a binder of more than 200 pages of notes to reference from, studying for the test wasn’t easy. Despite her partner’s concern that Rosa wouldn’t be able to pass the test, Rosa was motivated. “I was determined to show him that I was going to pass that test. Don’t ever tell me I can’t do anything because it just gives me more power to want to do it.”

The test took place in Puerto Rico, the island where both Rosa’s parents were born. While nervous to take on such a career defining challenge, Rosa was also overwhelmed by the bittersweet feeling of returning to her parents’ homeland. In 2011, when Rosa passed the NADCA certification test, she became the first woman in New York to be certified by NADCA, joining 25 other NADCA certified women throughout the country. Since Rosa’s certification, three other women in New York have passed the test as well. “It’s a good thing for a woman in an HVAC man’s world to have passed such a test. In my opinion, it gives women an empowerment in the HVAC industry which is mainly a “man’s” industry.”

After becoming certified, Rosa needed capital in order to continue expanding the business. She went to several lenders but couldn’t qualify for a loan. Rosa heard about Ascendus through Santander Bank and was approved for a loan, which she used to buy more supplies as well as assisting in payroll. “I have not had the experiences with anyone else as I’ve had with Ascendus,” Rosa said. “My loan consultant would always explain everything to me and walk me through things. For me, it’s always Ascendus. I don’t go to anyone else. I recommend Ascendus to everyone.”


While RML is nearing its decade mark and employs two other workers, Rosa explains that the biggest challenge in running her business continues to be getting new work as a female-owned business. “I don’t think that companies have faith in women owned business. My biggest challenge is getting people to see, yes — I’m a woman-owned business and I can do this work myself. I have to get people to believe that I can actually get the work done.”

Rosa also wishes she had known more about running a business when she first started out. Yet the challenges she faced and difficult lessons she learned have only made her more eager to help others out with their own entrepreneurial ventures. Rosa’s own daughter plans to start her own business eventually, and Rosa intends to provide the kind of back-end guidance that she would have wanted when she was just beginning.

Despite the challenges she’s faced, Rosa remains committed to her business and maintaining a sense of resilience and determination. She explained that, “it’s a man’s world in the HVAC business, but I’m trying to change that. It’s not always easy, but I’m trying. Every little effort counts.”

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