This One’s For the Girls - Meet the Women Leading the Building Materials Industry

 

Building Materials and women are not going to win any word association contests, but we have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest in both categories.  We want to highlight some of these rock stars of the industry and how they have brought their unique personalities and values into a largely male dominated industry and thrived.  We may not agree on everything, but we can all agree that women have reached some seemingly unattainable milestones of late, so let’s take a moment to give a nod to those in our ethos that are helping us bring the healthy building materials message home.

 

Kate Roberts, Kirei Design Materials

 

What are your favorite things about the building material industry?  

I love that this industry is driven by technology and creativity, two things that force constant evolution and change. 

 

How did you end up in this industry?  

I was hired at an architectural firm in the marketing department right out of college and was able to join the Construction Specification Institute where I started working with our architects on our finish specifications.  After meeting a number of sales representatives, I was recruited to a local tile and stone distributor and it started my love for all things building material related. 

 

What values do you instill in your organization and why?

“Doing Right” is a core company value at Kirei and it is one that I personally connect to.  Honesty and integrity are an integral part of my day, every touch point with an employee, vendor, and client is an opportunity to consciously do right.  Personally, this carries the meaning of efficiency, effectiveness and expertise, but more importantly, it's not self-serving, it's about the collective whole.     

 

What’s one personal anecdote about you that not many people know about?

I had perfect attendance from Kindergarten through the 12th grade.  My reward was a t-shirt sponsored by a local party supply and rental company that featured a graphic of a stick person holding balloons and the saying “I love balloons” written across the chest.  It was so ridiculously funny that I had to wear it with pride.

Learn more about Kirei here.
 

Sally Reis, Expanko Cork Flooring

What are your favorite things about the building material industry?  

I love the creative minds and design ideas that come from the building material industry.  It is always intriguing to see how Designers and Architects use materials and create fantastic spaces. 

 

How did you end up in this industry?  

I started my career in a management trainee program with SW.  I gravitated to the wallcovering side of the business and this lead me to my first outside sales role in Chicago, working for a commercial wallcovering distributor, calling on the A & D community to obtain specifications.

 

What values do you instill in your organization and why? 

Our number one focus is our customers.  I encourage and require my team to put our customers first, by providing excellent customer service, a sense of urgency when responding to all inquiries and genuine interest in the success of each of the projects we are privileged to be involved on.

 

What’s one personal anecdote about you that not many people know about?

Martha Stewart is one of my favorite people and a role model! Martha built a business and shall I say an empire from ground up all around food, decorating and what one would consider typical domestic habits.  She is a perfectionist, and holds herself and others to a high standard, that's a good thing!

Learn more about Expanko here.

 

Nancy Busch, Executive Director of ISFA 

What are your favorite things about the building material industry?  

I am passionate about every part of the processes relating to the building material industry. From manufacturing and distribution to design, fabrication, and installation, the innovation is so very interesting to me.  However, it always boils down to the finished product, and in the countertop surfacing world, it’s the fabricator who make the designer’s dreams a reality. 

 

How did you end up in this industry?  

About 15 years ago, I was involved in residential kitchen design primarily in in the appliance industry. An opportunity to join Willis, a distributor of DuPont surfacing materials, was brought to my attention, and I took advantage of it.  During my 14 years there I was involved in residential and commercial sales, representation support to the architect and design community and ultimately managed a team of six covering four states. 

 

What values do you instill in your organization and why?
 

There is no “I” in team.  We can accomplish so much more when we work together. This is true both personally and professionally. 

 

What’s one personal anecdote about you that not many people know about?

I grew up, almost literally, in my family’s hardware store and had lots of energy; I wore out four hippity-hop bouncers.  There were many stories involving nail bins, patches, and tears to keep me up and hopping.

Learn more about ISFA here.

 

Know a remarkable woman making waves in the building and design industry? Let us know here.

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