Local Santa Clarita Valley manufacturer Lief Organics hosted multiple California State University Northridge students this week for a tour of the company’s facilities and a meeting with the company’s chief executive officer.
Participating students said they made the trip from Northridge because of the valuable lessons and internship opportunities that were shared during the tour.
In between visits to the company’s four separate sites, CSUN scholars enjoyed the opportunity to speak with multiple figures, including founder and CEO Adel Villalobos, who shared his unique story with the group.
After dropping out of school two months into college because he was an engineering major who didn’t enjoy physics, Villalobos said he returned home and enrolled in a local junior college, where he would discover that subjects like biology and chemistry enthralled him.
“I realized I wanted to go to college, but I picked a degree I didn’t have passion for,” Villalobos said, adding that he soon learned passion was one of the keys to success. “Once you find a passion, you can really become engrossed in it.”
All in all, it took 10 years to get a bachelor’s degree, “but I enjoyed the ride,” Villalobos said. “Finding my passion early on loaded me with knowledge and it allowed me to realize if you really enjoy something then you pour your heart into it — and that can only bring success.”
Passion is necessary to become an entrepreneur, Villalobos said, but so is lacking a fear of failure.
“Fear can be paralyzing,” Villalobos said to students. “But being OK with failure is not a bad thing.”
Instead of letting fear get the better of him, Villalobos said he started a manufacturing company shortly after college, but only a few months would pass before he found himself in charge of a failing business.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Villalobos said. Out of cash and with his largest client not paying him, he went home and remained in the fetal position — “paralyzed with fear.”
He’d make a call to a mentor and within two weeks he found himself back on the ladder to success.
Two years later, he’d go on to establish Lief Organics Lief Labs, which has been around since 2008 and employs a growing workforce of more than 200 people.
“I was not a great student,” Villalobos said, “But there was a passion, and I was not going to give up on the things I enjoyed doing. This allowed me to become a leader.”