At the age of 11, Ruth Hernandez Flores had all the tools she would ever need to be a successful businesswoman. Watching her mother and grandmother work in their native Honduras as a young girl stuck with her, and with three businesses of her own in a family full of entrepreneurs, she credits all that she has to the foundational principles she learned before coming to the United States.
“My mother taught me discipline, respect, morals, love and God above all,” Flores said. “I knew I needed to hold on to those things that I learned from my mother to eventually succeed in business in the United States.”
Flores’ story doesn’t have the same start that most other business leaders do, which by design may have been to her benefit in the end. A graduate of Grace King High School in Metairie, Louisiana, Flores earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health and began working immediately out of college for the LSU Med Center’s oncology department. However, working primarily in the health industry didn’t seem like the only path she could take, and that’s when Flores followed another passion and became a cosmetologist, a career she's excelled at for 33 years at the same location on Williams Blvd.
That was until Hurricane Katrina changed everything, leading Flores down another path that she, fortunately, was ready for. After graduating from Dillard University in New Orleans, Flores began studying business and eventually got into insurance, a practicing agent for 26 years. After the devastating effects of Katrina, Flores chose to devote herself to building her insurance business. Thanks to the help of Hancock Whitney, she was able to find a financial institution that gave her the backing to succeed.
Before becoming a Hancock Whitney client, Flores was with another company working with a familiar banker. When that banker switched to Hancock Whitney, she took her business endeavors there. Before long, a new financial center opened near her business that made working with Hancock Whitney even easier. “I’m always grateful for their amazing service,” Flores said. “I feel like I’m treated like family.”
With the challenges of having multiple business ventures and keeping all of them running successfully, Flores appreciates the convenience of a nearby location and face-to-face service where she can receive the sound advice she needs and get back to work. “I’ve received assistance when applying for loans and their team always leads me through the process step-by-step so that I can make the best decision,” she said.
Hancock Whitney helped Flores establish a line of credit for emergencies, among other business support. She now has six accounts and a safe deposit box with the bank, streamlining her account needs under one roof with an institution that understands her business needs.
“I’ve paid off a few of my properties and had solid credit, so when I went to them for a loan, they approved me on the spot and have shown nothing but full confidence in me and my businesses,” Flores said.
Hurricane Katrina wasn’t the only crisis that Flores faced, the COVID-19 pandemic also forced her businesses to pivot. She was committed to the safety of customers and her staff by reducing hours, disinfecting surfaces, putting up shields and complying with all safety measures at each of Flores’ three insurance agency locations.
“Protecting clients and the staff is a challenge, but it was my main priority,” Flores said.
Through all her hard work, Flores has built an empire of businesses with her son Tulio and daughter Jessica and serves as a critical resource to the Hispanic community in the metro area. The 11-year-old who came to the United States has created a legacy of her own that she can pass down to her family just as they did for her.
“The love I have for people and the vision to grow as a female business owner in the community push my desire to succeed,” Flores said. “Anything is possible with faith, and I know through hard work that I’ve been very blessed.”