Qualified Remodeler’s female editors interviewed several successful female remodelers to learn whether they manage their businesses, sell jobs and complete projects differently than their male counterparts. To read the full article and learn about the individual women who were interviewed, click here. The following are additional comments made by these inspiring women:
Are there challenges you face as a woman in the remodeling industry?
Harrell: We are so branded in this area now that I think we have taken something that might’ve been a liability and made it an asset. For instance, our tagline is, “We never forget it’s your home.” Most couples we work with are straight and there’s a wife who has to deal with us being at the house. They want to know they and the children are going to be safe. Knowing that there is a woman at the helm running a tight ship makes them feel more comfortable.
Schwab: I have worked with several woman-owned trades companies, as well as woman-owned home building and remodeling companies. Professionals are professionals regardless of gender. When I first joined the local HBA after 15 years in the industry as a business owner, there were a number of women-owned remodeling firms. We were a support group for one another and I have deep friendships with those still in the industry. Personally, I do not focus on being female in the industry; I never have. My goal is for our company to meet our expectations and be the best company we can be.
Davis: I am involved in our local chapter of NARI. We used to have a subset committee that was about women in remodeling. I think when we were first realizing it was a very atypical field to be involved in, we did gather and talk about what our issues were and how to overcome them. We stopped having the meetings because it stopped being relevant.
Hsu: I’ve had to earn respect, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As long as I know my stuff, which I think is important regardless of my gender, it turns out fine. I don’t know if that’s age or gender or a combination of the two. I’m much more confident today than when I started in this industry and I hope that continues to grow. I feel like now with clients even 30 years my senior I don’t have to work as hard and part of that is probably how I carry myself now.
Can you share a story from your experience in construction where you were treated differently because you are a woman?
Harrell: The first subcontractor I hired when I came to California showed up at a job in Los Altos and he got out of the car and asked, “Where’s the contractor?” and I said, “That’s me.” He started laughing. I said, “If you want to get paid, you’ll stop laughing.” He stopped laughing.
Another time, I was at a home and the tiler showed up; it was the first time I’d used that tiler. My lead carpenter was a woman and the client’s wife was there. The tiler came in and asked for the contractor. I said, “That’s me.” He looked quizzical. Then he asked, “Where’s the carpenter?” and Beth said, “That’s me.” Then he asked, “Where’s the client?” and the wife said, “That’s me.” He said, “Boy, the world is really changing.”
Hsu: When I started in architecture I was working on a restaurant in Beverly Hills and I went to the jobsite with a male colleague to meet with the contractor who was about 65 years old. The contractor kept talking to my colleague, addressing all his questions to him. As far as seniority, my colleague and I were the same; we both were a couple years out of school. My colleague had no idea about the background of this project so I’d answer the questions. It was this funny triangle where the contractor would look at my colleague and ask a question and as though I was his interpreter I’d answer the question. We did that for about 10 minutes before the contractor started talking to me.