Christine Vargas ’93 (industrial engineering) was just a few years out of school when she had three months to take 80,000 square feet of space and turn it into a workspace for more than 300 Xerox employees.
“There were big technology needs,” Vargas said. “It involved an incredible amount of planning.”
Throughout the project, colleagues told her she wasn’t going to make the deadline. She did, and that marathon project and others that followed have defined Vargas, who is now the president of Vargas Associates in Rochester.
“For me, my life has been about trying to capture opportunities,” she said. “You don’t know when the opportunities are going to head your way. If you prepare yourself, you can be ready to catch them.”
Vargas started her company in 2004 and today has 10 employees—eight of them are RIT graduates.
The staff delivers facilities project management, relocation management, space planning and interior design work for public clients like the Rochester Police Department, City of Rochester and Rochester City School District’s Facilities Modernization Project, and for private companies, such as Toshiba Business Solutions and Frontier Communications.
Vargas got her start at Xerox through RIT’s co-op program on a software project.
“I wasn’t crazy about the position but I just wanted to get into Xerox because through the co-op program you see people being hired so you think just get in the door,” she said.
Within two weeks she was asked to work on a facilities project, and before she got her diploma, she was put in charge of two $1 million renovation projects for Xerox.
After she graduated, she continued to work with Xerox but as director of project management for FM Technologies, which won a contract for facilities project management services.
She stayed with FM Technologies for 10 years before she decided to start her own company.
One project led to another and slowly she began adding staff.
In 2008, she added interior design to the company’s portfolio. Vargas Associates is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise in New York state.
Her company has merged two branches of the Irondequoit, N.Y., Public Library and relocated entire schools.
“We have relocated 4 million square feet of space over four summers for the Rochester School District.”
Vargas Associates also worked on the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester and is currently working with Kaleida Health on the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
It’s not uncommon for the company to have 20 different projects going at one time. The work comes, she said, because they build on their successes.
“I wanted to create a company that would be held in high regard to the quality of work we do,” she said. “I want to be the gold standard.”