Karla Trotman and Electro Soft: The legacy that keeps on giving
For Karla Trotman, legacy isn’t just a six-letter word for generational success – it’s a motivating force ignited by desires to inspire, uplift, and encourage the Black community to pursue goals normally deemed unobtainable.
Trotman is the President and CEO of Electro Soft, Incorporated, America’s largest Black-owned electronics manufacturing and engineering firm. An origin story of family traditions and shared careers, Trotman’s journey into the business world began with a front-row seat to the thriving Pennsylvania-based electronics-manufacturing company.
Established in 1986, Electro Soft is the brainchild of Trotman’s parents, Jim and Sheila Wallace. Despite it’s familial value, the supply chain expert says following in her parents’ footsteps simply happened by chance.
“Working at my family’s business was never a part of the plans,” she said. “The plan was just for me to have a career.”
Trotman says much of her infatuation with the corporate world can be linked to her experience while studying Business Logistics at Penn State University.
“When you go to college, you are, in essence, being programmed to work in a corporate environment,” said Trotman. “You’re being trained to get a job and seek the highest level within that company and that template doesn’t always work for people of color in our society.”
The desire to work in corporate America took Trotman to GAP, where she worked at their distribution center. Trotman also furthered her experience in supply chain logistics with Metrologic Instruments and IKEA Wholesale, Inc.
Trotman’s independent spirit has served her well as a businesswoman. Most notably, in the field of entrepreneurship where the mother of two channeled her experiences with difficult pregnancies and background in logistics to create BellyButtonBoutique.com, an online site offering expect mother’s relief from their uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.
It is working as an entrepreneur, Trotman says, that opened her eyes to the power of creating a legacy.
“Owning your own business is really such a great thing because all of the ideas that you have come to fruition on your own effort,” she said. “It was going through that exercise [of being an entrepreneur] that I realized how important it is to have a legacy, to have your education, and to have your thoughts go in as input and for you to reap the benefits of your hard work.”
Having such a profound experience with motherhood, Trotman’s love for her children, matched with the wish to provide lifelong familial stability to her loved ones, encouraged the distinguished trailblazer to take on a full-time position with Electro Soft.
“I saw that having a family business gives you the flexibility to not only execute a legacy, but to have flexibility in your life,” said Trotman, who found the work-life balance at Electro Soft particularly attractive. “What my family had given was in essence, a gift and that gift was a legacy.”
Since joining Electro Soft ten years ago, Trotman has enjoyed brief stints as the firm’s Special Projects and Marketing Manager, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer.
Now in her role as the President and CEO of Electro Soft, Trotman hopes to continue building a legacy for her family through the growth and evolution of their firm and community.
“I want to show people that you can work in the business and you can own the business,” said Trotman. “There are people that look like you that have done it.”
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