When taking over the family remodeling business from a father, a woman must overcome a whole set of obstacles - owning a company in a male-dominated industry and filling a father’s shoes.
"When we were kids, our parents thought that girls didn’t do this kind of thing," says Sue Bartlett, who currently serves as one half of McGowan Corp.’s management team. "My father realized, as I was growing up, that girls can do this kind of thing, and as I did more and more for the business he realized that yes, girls can even be in construction."
Bartlett shares responsibility for her family’s company with her older brother, and her younger brother works for the company as a salesperson.
"I do think that there are some initial differences in the respect customers show [men and women]," says McGowan. "But that changes as people spend time with you, and they realize that you’re not just the person who answers the phone. Once you spend time with them, they realize that you really do have the knowledge and the skills. I would say that our customers and suppliers respect me as much as my brother."
Cindy Knutson-Lycholat, CGR, took over her father’s business after his death. With no siblings, she was the sole person to assume leadership of the family business. "I’ve had a lot of respect, just as my father had a lot of respect," she says. "As he faded out, I faded in. I really feel like it was a transition."