Change, Gratitude

Marcelo Vergara | Jan 11, 2024

"In another time's forgotten space

Your eyes looked from your mother's face

Wildflower seed on the sand and stone

May the four winds blow you safely home"

Songwriters: Robert C. Hunter / Jerome J. Garcia / William Kreutzmann

In Honor of Anna

On October 15, 2023 the P3 Team suffered the loss of Anna Oliveira. Anna's body had succumbed to a very rare and aggressive metastatic breast cancer (Metaplastic Breast Carcinoma (MBC)). During her fight with this horrible illness, she did her best to support us through a difficult transition of her work to myself, Joey Betzen, Kelsey Shockley, and Courtney Cooper. She continued to be supportive of us and strived to help as best she could till the last month of her life when the aphasia and tumors in her brain made it impossible for her to do so. Frankly, it was a heroic effort and dedication of the likes I have never witnessed in life. True love and care are often shown most clearly through difficult times. We miss her so much.

Anna's Work at P3

She restarted her career at P3 in 2006 and was our longest-tenured team member. She brought to her role many of the traits we admire. Honesty (at times brutal honesty), Integrity, Work Ethic, Care, Compassion, Empathy and Love. She was responsible for daily work in Human Resources, Accounting, and Admin Support. She was our rock. We, at times, called her methods and process a bit antiquated, but she was a results-driven team member and executed her job extremely well throughout her work life at P3.

Anna cared deeply about her colleagues. She strove to show them all the respect and care they deserve and always led me to consider their needs first. She encouraged me to build my business head and heart around the concept of "The Golden Rule." She was a presence at the office from 2006 till 2015 till minor health challenges made it more comfortable for her to work from home. From 2015 till May 3, 2023, she worked from her home office but remained ingrained in our teams' work life as usual.

Anna's Career

Prior to her time at P3, Anna started her career as an administrative assistant to the CEO of Puma Shoes in Brazil in the late 60's. She rose through the ranks and was promoted to Chief of Staff. Then, she was offered an opportunity to run a division called ArcoFlex in the USA. So in December of 1973, she packed up her Mom, brother, and 8-year-old son and moved from São Paulo, Brazil, to St. Louis, MO.

In 1977, Puma Brazil decided to close the ArcoFlex venture. Anna immediately set out to find another job in STL. This was a difficult task for a single mom at that time. We knew that to stay in the U.S., she needed to get a work visa, then a job, and then her Green Card. So, in true Anna fashion, she devised a plan to do both. As our visas expired, she worked with a Canadian colleague to let us stay with his family in Toronto until she renewed her visa. After 2 months in Toronto, she earned her work visa, and we returned to STL and then applied for her Green Card. She was awarded her Green Card in the late summer of 1978; we were now officially Resident Aliens. More importantly, Anna could work freely and earn a living in the USA. The dream of so many people on planet Earth, and she had done it.

From 1978 to 1980, my Mom worked four jobs; she was a bartender at a Mexican restaurant and at a piano bar, she worked at a travel agency as an admin, and she worked as a waitress at a truck stop restaurant near Lambert Field in STL. The latter was a very rough place, and it took more grit than I could ever muster to work there.

In 1980, she got a job as a sales rep for an industrial hardware company called Durbin Durco. In this role, she thrived and developed a cult-like following of customers. By far their most successful sales rep, she devoured territory, covering Southern Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and occasional forays into Texas, Nebraska, and Iowa. All this was done in a 1984 Chevy Celebrity wagon and many nights in Red Roof Inns and other motels.

In 1986, Durbin Durco, a business run by second-generation owners, did what happens so often: they tanked the firm. So she turned on her entrepreneurial chops and started her own Manufacturer's Rep firm. Her clients all called in chits with their suppliers and often strong-armed them to hire Anna as their rep. She won several good lines and added New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona to her drive territory. By 1988, she represented 8 lines of hardware and was on the road most of the time. Still, she always made time to see me in Lawrence and would spend time there with me to encourage and support me as I worked through KU. She loved Lawrence, Kansas, as much as I do.

In 1997, with changes in the hardware business taking place. Life on the road was very tough, so she decided to figure out Plan B. So again, in Anna fashion, she and her daughter-in-law at that time, Jenny Vergara, and friends Christina Ely and Vera Karam started The Brazilian Cargo Company. From 1997 till it closed in 2005, that store was the center of the Brazilian community in KC. She was known as "Tia" or "Dona Anna". She became the surrogate Mamãe for so many students from Brazil. She was a kind, loving friend to all who entered. She created a place for people to gather, to share saudades of home and family and it became place where new life-long friendships would blossom. I could write for days about that time of her life as so many people were touched by her love during the Brazilian Cargo Era. She was her happiest and most fulfilled from a work-life perspective.

Anna's Professional Legacy

As life moved forward, partners moved, and things changed, so did her desire to continue with Brazilian Cargo alone. So, in 2005, she and I started talking about the challenges I was having with P3 as a startup. I needed help, and there she was, ready, willing, and able. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made, as she turned out to be a gem of a manager. Anna was and remains in my heart a big part of the ethos of P3. She helped us create a caring culture, often at the lunch table with Willa Cline and Dan Mingori. Or nurturing Big Dave and loving on him as her own son. Appreciating the work ethic, drive and product of John Holland. And she was caring and supportive of every one of our over 90 teammates since her tenure began in 2006.

Anna was the very best. Not perfect, always a work in progress, full of love and support.

Honor, Gratitude and Love for Anna

So, on this day, January 11, 2024, instead of just celebrating her birthday (she would have been 80 years old today). Instead, I hope you all who knew her will take a moment and bring her presence to the forefront of your thoughts and let that force of nature have a little access to your heart so you can share in that wonderful energy that she gave us all. And those who are reading this who did not know her will consider that we all have people like Anna in our lives and that we take a moment to reach out to them and say, "I Love You and Thank You for Being Part of My Life."

I miss her greatly, and I am forever grateful that I was the one human who was lucky to have her as my professional colleague and my Mamãe.

All My Love,


Marcelo Vergara
Marcelo Vergara, Owner + Operator
The bus came by and I got on... that's when it all began.