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 LaForce’s LEED expert. LaForce employs many amazing female leaders that deserve recognition this month and year-round. This week, we spotlight an organization that guides and influences LaForce in many ways, through the eyes of one of its female members and 30-year veteran at LaForce – Kristi Dietz.
LaForce’s leadership views the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) as holding a very important role in the door, frame, and hardware industry. Without the education DHI offers, levels of standards among LaForce and its competitors would cause conflict with project bids and results. In addition to education, DHI provides standardization, professionalism, credentialing, and credibility. According to the DHI website:
“DHI is an association proudly serving door security and safety professionals, and the dynamic companies they represent, in the non-residential construction industry. Through education, advocacy, accreditation and facilitated networking, we provide members with the collective intelligence to meet the security and safety needs of their customers.”
LaForce has been a corporate member of DHI since 1960, and a number of its employees also belong to the organization. In fact, CEO Ken Metzler has held a number of leadership positions at DHI, including serving on the Board of Governors (2006-2013) and a term as DHI President (2010-2011).
Kristi Dietz, Engineering Training Manager at LaForce, is a current DHI member and presently serves on its certification council. She has also served on its education council and is listed as a Local Instructor for DHI’s “Using Codes and Standards” class. When she began at LaForce, she was the first female engineer for the company. She went on to manage the engineering team while training and running her own projects, before transitioning to full-time engineering training.
Over the years, the engineering division has grown and expanded to include more female members. Successful project engineers and project managers are detail-oriented, have a respect for following codes and standards, and possess a mechanical interest.
Kristi is also one of a several LaForce employees with the respected Architectural Hardware Consultant (AHC) credential from DHI. This is one of four credentials DHI offers to its members. AHC’s “are trained to recognize a builder’s hardware requirements for door openings in all types of public, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. AHCs coordinate thousands of builders’ hardware items and options to ensure door openings are in compliance with fire, life safety, accessibility and building code requirements.”
The AHC credentialing process is grueling, with a prescribed series of training courses and a rigorous certification exam. Once the exam is passed, the credential-holder will always have the designation. However, to hold current AHC status, the individual must keep up with continuing education credits every three years. This means that people like Kristi are keeping current with the industry in general, and have up-to-date knowledge of ever-changing building codes and standards.
When she first started DHI training in 1988, Kristi was one of two women in her class. But today, it’s becoming much more common to see women as members of DHI and holding various DHI credentials. While DHI does not track members or credential-holders by gender, they do have over 4,000 individual members and over 1,200 are currently credentialed. According to the organization, “While we don’t currently track the demographics for women or men in the industry, we believe the ratios are likely parallel to other construction industries. Women have played an important role with DHI over the years as volunteers, both locally and nationally, as chapter officers, instructors, on the Board of Governors and as two of our DHI Presidents.”
Kristi noted that the construction industry, as a whole, has become more accepting of women and isn’t as “old school” as it used to be. In the past, when working with external customers, she noted, “sometimes I had to go the extra mile to prove I knew what I was talking about.” But providing justification and reasoning behind her statements caused her to be more knowledgeable and aided in her career rise at LaForce. Kristi no longer feels like she needs to prove herself in the industry — and it helps to have a current AHC credential to back her up!
Kristi’s role has grown and changed over the years, but today, her responsibilities can be broken down into four areas:
- Training employees on the technical aspects of doors, frames, and hardware, as well as codes and standards.
- Developing team standards and working with IT to create and enhance software to streamline engineering team output.
- Working with teams throughout the company on standardization and process improvements that relate to both the Engineering and Small Projects Side of our business.
- Guiding and mentoring employees who pursue DHI credentialing.
Thanks to leaders like Kristi and the Door and Hardware Institute, LaForce is always up-to-date on the latest codes, standards, and trends. For more information on DHI, please visit www.dhi.org.
We will continue this special blog series all month. Next week, we will discover how women fit into various expert divisions across LaForce. Please subscribe to our blog for weekly updates – and share this on LinkedIn!