Designer Protests Gender Salary Gap, Poor Industry Wages

Designer Protests Gender Salary Gap, Poor Industry Wages

Dear Janice:

Thank you for publishing the two recent articles about compensation and wages practices in our industry: Hank Darlington’s “Compensation Strategies and Examples,” which ran in the June issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News, and your salary survey, “Fair Wages,” which ran in the July issue of KBDN.

(See also the July 2007 Editorial, Hank Darlington’s April 2007 column and Ken Peterson’s September 2006 column.)

It is really disappointing to know that as women in the kitchen and bath industry, we make so little.

I can tell you that living in Michigan, I have worked at several aspects in this industry, and certification/education doesn’t seem to mean much. Employers don’t seem to care if you have a bachelor’s degree from a private college or an associate’s degree from a community college, let alone going on to get professional certification. Funny how none of those professors at that private college mention that while you are handing over your tuition check! Had I known then what I know now, I might have selected another profession. And that is truly sad.

It is really frustrating to know that women are not valued equally to men in this profession – and I was really outraged when I read it.

The plumbing company that I work for hired Hank Darlington last year, and he spent considerable time with us, giving us direction on how to make our firm more profitable. We have followed a lot of his advice, and separated our decorative plumbing showroom from our “supply house.” We have named our showroom something different and edgy, and have taken on new lines that are more high end and decorative, things that you don’t see in Home Depot, or on the Internet.

We will always have the staples, but our focus has changed to include products that we can raise our gross margin percentage with, and therefore, make more money with.

In the past year, we have seen it happen…slowly, but we see it. Hank was a wonderful man and a brilliant consultant, and I know that we would recommend him to anyone looking to revamp their business.

As for the salary gap between the genders, well, it is truly a shame that women are still being discriminated against when it comes to salaries. This is a specialty field, and I believe that not just anyone can do it, or at least be good at it. I guess we keep plugging away, trying to make a change.

Thank you for a great magazine!

Jennifer Hoogterp
Etna Supply
Grand Rapids, MI

Reader Cites Lack of Respect From Interior Designers

Dear Editor:

I have a good relationship with, and admiration for, many interior designers, however, I simply cannot believe that interior designers consider themselves kitchen designers!

Having started in trade school some 30 years ago as a cabinetmaker – and having the scars and calluses to prove it – my hair bristles when I have an interior designer tell me that he or she is a kitchen designer. In my opinion, their knowledge of wood as well as installation procedures and finishes is limited at best.

I am currently thinking of going back to a local college for my CKD, but what’s the point if I have to be an interior designer in order to legally design?

To that end, most of the interior designers I have worked with are acting as de facto contractors. They design, sell product and then send in “their” tile and carpet guys, carpenters, painters, etc.

If interior designers truly want respect for their profession, they should respect the professional contractors that sit for a state exam to practice their trade.

My solution to this particular situation is really rather simple: I think interior designers should be cornered into being allowed to address design issues only. If that were done, then maybe interior designers wouldn’t be so eager to step on the toes of others – such as professional contractors – when they have to toe the line of their own profession.

Name Withheld on Request

Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers about issues of relevance to the kitchen and bath industry. Letters are subject to editing to conform with Kitchen & Bath Design News’ editorial standards, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of KBDN.

To share your thoughts, log onto and click on the Send a Letter to the Editor link at the top of the home page, or any other page of the site.