Photo: Peony & Poppy
For women in construction and remodeling, there has never been a better time to make their presence known than now. Recent studies by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) have shown that women, not men, take the lead on making decisions about home improvement projects and "that the woman is not only the purchaser, but also the 'doer'" when it comes to home improvements. It stands to reason they might very well look to professional women contractors and those in the building industry for assistance and advice.
For years, women have had to adapt to the male way of doing things, even when starting our businesses. But things are changing! The number of women growing their businesses beyond $1 million has reached a tipping point. An impressive 24% of all businesses have more than 50% ownership by women, according to a report by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
5 Who's Who of Women Contractors, DIY Remodelers & Manufacturing Business Owners:
These 5 women have been changing the stereotype of women in construction and remodeling, and they are no more afraid of being in the public eye than they are of breaking a nail to hammer nails:
Lenore Janis, president of Professional Women in Construction (PWC). Janis could be considered the grand dame of women in construction. She attended college in the 1950s, graduated with a bachelor's degree from a prestigious school, and pursued acting -- because her family thought joining their steel construction business wasn't a proper career for a young lady. Eventually she changed their minds, and by 1980 she had her own successful steel erection company. That year she also founded Professional Women in Construction (PWC). Through the organization, Janis continues to promote careers in construction for women.
Linda G. Alvarado, founder and owner of Alvarado Construction. No list would be complete without Alvarado, another pioneer of women in the construction industry. Alvarado grew up in a family of six children with few financial resources. Like many women in the industry, she faced harassment on construction sites. She also dealt with discrimination as a Latina. In 1976 she started her own commercial construction firm with a $2,500 loan from her parents. Today she sits on the boards of several public companies and is the first Hispanic to own a major league baseball team. In 2003 she was named to the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Amy Matthews, licensed contractor, HGTV and DIY Network host. Matthews spent her teen years volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the organization that builds homes for families in need, and that's where she first became passionate about residential remodeling. She was able to combine her college training in dramatics with her career in home improvement and now hosts five shows for two networks.
Kayleen McCabe, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network's Rescue Renovation. McCabe loves a challenge, and she finds plenty of them on this show where DIYers in trouble with their projects turn to her for help. What could be most contractors' nightmare scenarios becomes her moment to shine when she turns the project around.
Sandra Hersey, DIY remodeler, blogger and owner of a building products manufacturing company. Hersey is the only remodeler on the list who is not a licensed contractor, however, do not let that fool you. Besides being a business owner in the building industry she is also a published author and speaker. She found she enjoyed wearing different hats which support her differing passions therefore, after years of owning a granite fabrication and installation company and kitchen design center, she decided to address the apparent need in the countertop installation industry; for an affordable and viable way to get hidden countertop support brackets for countertop support and bar top overhangs. Her company, The Original Granite Bracket® has become a top supplier of countertop brackets to fabricators, installers, designers, and homeowners world-wide. Hersey is proud to be a woman business owner in the construction and remodeling industry, and very proud her company is a Made in the USA Company and she continues her writing in her blog "The Adored Home" about her many passions.
If you are a woman with the same passion these women have for DIY remodeling, manufacturing, building or construction, they've blazed the trail. You don't have to host your own TV show or start a blog or even write a book for that matter -- but if you want to, I now these women would agree to say - Don't let anyone stop you!