Mary Ann Seymour is a self-taught businesswoman, who got her first taste of entrepreneurship operating a corner lemonade stand when she was 9. The La Puente native would grow up and go on to major in business management and marketing at Citrus College in Glendora, but never graduated with a degree.

“Life itself has been my best teacher so far,” said Seymour, who has also taken business courses at UCLA and USC. In addition, she cites her strongest career asset as “a natural talent to connect with people.”

She will be bringing her life lessons and natural talents to bear on behalf of the California Small Business Association, which recently named her to its board. She will serve as co-chairwoman of the small-business advocacy group’s procurement committee, where she will work to acquire resources for the state’s small businesses.

Seymour is aware of the challenges that small businesses face as chief executive of Discount Computer Supplies, an L.A. computer product retailer she launched in 2000.

She had worked for another computer products company until a friend helped her see the opportunities in starting her own business. “I saw that it was lucrative and I just took off from there,” she said.

In 2008, the company was only $200,000 short of hitting $2 million in sales for the first time.

The greatest challenges for Seymour as chief executive are finding quality salespeople and dealing with administrative work.

“I don’t like doing (paperwork); I like being in front of the customer,” she said.

She attributes her success to focusing on the customer, and describes herself as an “old-school girl” who is nostalgic for the days of traditional customer service.

“I grew up with gas stations and men who pump your gas,” said Seymour, who has found an attendant at a local Chevron who will pump her gas without forcing her to use the more expensive full-service pumps. “I go when he’s there so I can experience good old-fashioned service.”

Seymour is divorced and lives with her daughter in View Park near Baldwin Hills. She enjoys reading, traveling and napping on the beach.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.