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Lori A. Torres: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before

To me, corporate culture is of the utmost importance. I am passionate about creating and maintaining a special work environment. We have a “special spirit” at Parcel Pending. We view and treat everyone as special individuals. Each team member brings a special skillset, personality and spirit to the table and we work hard to honor […]

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To me, corporate culture is of the utmost importance. I am passionate about creating and maintaining a special work environment. We have a “special spirit” at Parcel Pending. We view and treat everyone as special individuals. Each team member brings a special skillset, personality and spirit to the table and we work hard to honor that. I am so proud of the fact that we have been able to maintain our special spirit even while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our company culture truly speaks to our commitment to recognizing that every package is special, every recipient is special and every property is special.


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lori A. Torres.

Lori A. Torres is the founder and CEO of Parcel Pending, the leading provider of package management solutions for residential, commercial, retail and university properties in the United States and Canada. She is a dynamic and successful entrepreneur with more than 25 years of real estate experience. Additionally, she has been recognized on multiple occasions for her leadership, including being named EY Entrepreneur Of the Year® 2019 Orange County, 2017 “Innovator of the Year” by the Orange County Business Journal and chosen as one of 13 entrepreneurs admitted into the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ 2017 North America class.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iworked for 13-years at The Irvine Company, a leading real estate investment company and master planner based in Irvine, Calif., serving in various senior positions, including SVP of property operations. At The Irvine Company, I was responsible for the operational oversight of the company’s entire multifamily portfolio, consisting of 1,200 property management associates operating over 44,000 apartment homes.

While at The Irvine Company, I regularly walked-through many of their multifamily communities. Initially, package delivery was not a major issue. It used to be that property managers only took a few minutes out of their day to manage a small amount of deliveries for residents. However, as time went on and online shopping became increasingly popular, I noticed that property managers were struggling to devote enough space, time and money to properly manage the major influx in resident deliveries. At the same time, residents were becoming increasingly frustrated with having to pick-up their packages during office hours, disappearing packages and tracking packages that never arrived. I knew there had to be a better way and set out to find a solution.

I founded Parcel Pending in 2013 to provide seamless package management solutions to multifamily communities. In 2019, Parcel Pending was acquired by Quadient (formerly Neopost), the global leader in parcel, mailing, customer experience and business process automation solutions. Parcel Pending by Quadient, with an average of 2 million packages successfully delivered monthly, offers a wide range of solutions that ensure the simple and secure delivery and retrieval of packages and online orders for residential, commercial, retail and university properties in the United States and Canada.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

Walking away from a stable corporate job to start your own business is never easy. There were definitely some struggles, especially early on. For example, when I first started the company, I was the only person to delegate tasks to. We didn’t have the budget to afford the top talent that was needed. Instead, we had a lean team but we worked effectively and collaboratively to move the company forward. Another struggle was office space. Despite the fact that we planned for growth, we still ended up outgrowing four different office spaces over the span of four and a half years. This was certainly a good but very expensive problem to have!

I think one of the biggest lessons I learned early on was the importance of communication. I remember my operations manager approached me one day to discuss what kind of carpet I would like for our new office. Since I was running a mile a minute trying to get the company off of the ground, I dismissed the conversation and said he could handle it without my input. At the time, I didn’t think carpet was a big deal but oh boy was I wrong! I walked into the office a few days later and was unhappy with the awful blue carpet that was installed.

Since I spent the majority of my time at the office, I knew deep down that I needed to change the carpet to something that I would love. So, we ripped out the blue carpet and installed a modern grey carpet. It was a costly mistake but also an important business lesson. I learned to slow down, ask questions and pay attention to every business detail and step. It really is all about talking less and listening more. To this day, I have a framed sample of that blue carpet in my desk drawer to serve as a reminder to myself to take the time to ask thoughtful questions and slow down. You’d be surprised at how your business decisions can change when you take the time to think things through.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

I’ve been blessed to have a network of advisors that I can reach out to for guidance. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their mentorship.

I think one of the factors that led to my eventual success was my ability to ask for help. I never let pride get in my way. Whenever I was perplexed by something or needed guidance I would simply pick up the phone and reach out to my mentors and advisors. I was never afraid to ask for help.

However, I don’t think enough entrepreneurs ask for help because they are afraid of looking weak or foolish. This type of stigma needs to change. I have found that most people are willing to help, you just have to ask for it.

Additionally, I think surrounding myself with a great team also helped me achieve success. I can honestly say that I am nothing without my team. In order to deliver phenomenal customer service, you first have to hire great people who love to help. I rely heavily on the strength, dedication, professionalism and savviness of my team to maintain our success. This has helped us achieve phenomenal growth over the years. At the end of the day, you can have a great idea, product, vision or business plan but if you don’t have a solid team behind you then you will struggle to succeed.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

  • You’ll need a road map! The first step towards starting a business is to write a detailed business plan outlining thoughtful business goals and objectives and revenue projections. You need a roadmap for not only yourself as a business owner and entrepreneur but also for your staff because everyone needs a clear direction. It is vital to have systems, processes, data and resources in place to ensure the long-term success of a business.
  • This is going to be harder than you thought! Being an entrepreneur and CEO is not for the faint of heart. It’s going to be a tough journey but one that is worth it. There really is no easy road to take. You need to be comfortable with asking for help along the way because there will be tough times for sure.
  • You will never sleep again! I wish someone would have told me that I would never sleep again after starting my own company. It really is hard to sleep at night when you are trying to maintain the long-term growth and success of your company.
  • You’ll need to find balance in your life. It’s going to be very difficult to have a work-life balance when you’re starting your own company but balance is important to your health and well-being so make it a priority.
  • Hire smart! You really are nothing without your team so hire great people who love to help, and hire them early on. I wish I would have hired more high-level executives from the start.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

My simple advice is to love what you do to prevent burn out. If you’re unhappy at your job, then talk to your boss. Try to figure out a solution together.

For entrepreneurs, my advice is to create a great company culture and work hard to maintain that company culture even during accelerated growth. This will help your staff continue to thrive and not burn out.

To me, corporate culture is of the utmost importance. I am passionate about creating and maintaining a special work environment. We have a “special spirit” at Parcel Pending. We view and treat everyone as special individuals. Each team member brings a special skillset, personality and spirit to the table and we work hard to honor that. I am so proud of the fact that we have been able to maintain our special spirit even while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our company culture truly speaks to our commitment to recognizing that every package is special, every recipient is special and every property is special.

We’re a customer-focused company and our employees are central to our success. We work hard to maintain an environment that gives our team members the opportunity to thrive through open communication practices and programs to help them achieve positive results. There are many opportunities for our employees to both learn and grow and this is important to building a solid foundation for the company.

As a leader, I also focus strongly on guiding our employees through their career paths to ensure they are driven to their greatest potential and professional strengths. To help your employees thrive, you really have to invest in their overall growth and development. You need to look at the different levels of employees and truly understand that professional development is not a one-size-fits-all approach. After all, these are people not numbers we are talking about. Your approach to helping them thrive needs to be personalized.

Remember to create a company culture in which people love to come to work, and focus on constant communication. It’s not fair to your team if they don’t fully understand a project or the company’s overall goals and objectives. Make sure you are always clearly communicating deliverables to your team to ensure overall success. Check-in with your team often. Keep the conversations going so that everyone is on the same page and understands the task at hand.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When I was first starting out, I was stuck multiple times on many major business decisions so I reached out to different people depending on where I was stuck. One mentor, the former president of The Irvine Company, was so helpful when I needed him. I knew I could call him to pick his brain, ask his opinion and I would get complete and honest feedback. I’m forever grateful for the support I received. The interesting part of my journey was that I came from 30+ years in corporate America, I never raised money and I never built a company from nothing. Had I not had mentors and advisors, I wouldn’t have made it happen!

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

For Parcel Pending, I am working hard to expand our footprint in the retail space and other key sectors. Personally, I am striving for more balance in my life.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I hope to inspire others with my entrepreneurial career. It’s been a wonderful journey over the years. I would like to encourage future entrepreneurs to embrace one of my favorite quotes:

“Inspect what you expect.”

We all have expectations but we can’t make assumptions. Ask questions and inspect what you expect.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

If I could inspire a movement, it would have to do with solving homelessness. Having spent over 25 years in the real estate housing industry, homelessness is an issue that is close to my heart. I have witnessed first-hand how homelessness impacts local communities. That is why I am a board member of Families Forward, a non-profit that provides homeless families or families at risk of homelessness with tools and education to maintain self-sufficiency. I love to solve problems and truly think that homelessness can be solved … we just need to find the right solution!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter @ParcelPending

Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/loritorres/

Instagram: @ParcelPending

Facebook: @parcelpending

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