March Blog Series:
March is Women’s History Month, and we’d like to take this opportunity to explore the careers and viewpoints of our hard-working female employees. As a national leader in door, frame, and hardware distribution, as well as security integration, one of our mottos is “Strength in Its People; Strength in Its Industry.” We retain this strong position because of our diverse, talented team. Thank you for your 60+ years of dedication!
Last week, we profiled what it means to be a female leader at LaForce. LaForce employs many amazing female leaders that deserve recognition this month and year-round. This week, we spotlight another flourishing area at LaForce: The Sales Division. While these two female sales representatives may be outnumbered in the wider construction industry, they make up for it in competence and self-assurance.
Kate Lohmueller has been exposed to the doors, frames and hardware business her entire life. Growing up, she watched her father run the family business in Detroit as a distributor for these products. Kate went on to college and earned her degree in Civil Engineering and has continued to work in the construction industry ever since. Her current job responsibilities at LaForce include fostering relationships with customers and being the face of LaForce on the jobs that she sells. Kate’s strengths consist of an ability to quickly decipher situations, make tough decisions, and accept accountability.
“When I started in structural engineering, I was a bit of a novelty and that had its pros and cons. I did run into bias earlier in my doors/frames/hardware career when dealing with certain “old school” project managers and superintendents. But I rarely run into those situations anymore. My general rule is: Know your facts and be confident.”
She added that her “soft skills” have come in handy. These include emotional intelligence attributes like interpersonal communication, adaptability, and problem-solving. She also appreciates the teamwork, cross-company, and all the individuals working behind the scenes to make projects successful.
Abby Finger views being a female salesperson in a male-dominated industry as leverage: “You tend to stand out – in a room of 100 people, and maybe only a handful of women, people remember you.” In fact, she was recently told that she looked “like a fish out of water” in a pre-bid meeting – but she handled the situation with humor and grace.
Sticking out in a client’s mind has obvious advantages in any line of business. Abby has experienced a handful of instances where her knowledge came into question, but prefers to prove her competence through results. She has her degree in Marketing/Management and previously worked in the oil and gas industry as a project manager. She enjoys being in an external, client-facing role and managing many project details.
Finally, these two role models have some words of wisdom for up-and-coming female sales leaders:
Kate: “Be honest, fair and respectful to everyone you work with; in the end everyone is a customer in some form.”
Abby: “There are plenty of times you won’t be given the time of day or taken seriously, but that is the sales world in general. Try not to take it personally. It is an advantage being a female, because people remember you.” <Tweet This>