By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.
After RoofersCoffeeShop® partner, Heidi Ellsworth visited Tremco and saw what was happening there, she came back and informed me that we really needed to write about what’s going on at the company and how a simple culture shift has led to tremendous growth and happier employees. I had the pleasure of spending some time on the phone with Mardee Billingsley, VP of WTI (service subsidiary of Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance).
We always like to find out how folks got into the industry and how they ended up where they are today. Mardee’s story starts in Seattle, Washington. She began her career there, working at Weyerhauser Paper Company’s headquarters. It was there that she first was introduced to Tremco when her responsibilities led her to a position in the purchasing office, where she got to know her Tremco sales rep. When Weyerhauser announced it was moving her department from Seattle to Atlanta, Georgia, Mardee knew she didn’t want to move.
When Tremco asked her if she wanted to join them to help manage the Weyerhaeur account, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. “I took that job working from home and spent a lot of time reading specs, correcting specs, doing material takeoffs, and learning as I went,” Mardee said. “Before you know it, I began running job meetings and that quickly turned into me becoming a construction manager, since the company needed one on the west coast.”
Under her leadership, Tremco’s Western service division was started and by the time she moved to a different role, she had built a department of 10 – 15 employees and had accounts in every state west of the Mississippi River, including Hawaii and Alaska.
In 2006, she had an opportunity to move to Ohio and join Tremco at its headquarters in Cleveland. Over the next five or six years, she took on more roles and responsibilities, but the biggest change happened when their current president, Paul Hoogenboon joined the company in 2013.
Time for a culture shift
For many years, the construction and roofing industries have not been supportive of women advancing in the industry and Tremco was caught in the same rut of simply promoting the people who had been there the longest. Hoogenboom recognized that the things needed to change in order for the company to continue to be successful and grow. He made a lot of changes internally, meeting with employees to see what their strengths were and reorganizing them into positions that would be the right fit with their skill set.
“Paul came in and really empowered the people who had the capability to help the company grow faster,” explained Mardee. “He created a corporate operations team made up of eight people, three of whom are women, including V.P. of Finance, V.P. of Canada, and myself.”
More than just talk
Tremco and its subsidiary, WTI Services, believe strongly in putting the right people in the right positions, regardless of gender and it’s not something they just talk about, they do it. They support the advancement and involvement of women in the roofing industry and have demonstrated this by their Diamond-level sponsorship of the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) organization. In addition to monetary support, they support the involvement of their staff with Mardee chairing the membership committee and Shari Carlozzi serving as chair of the organization. In addition, Tremco has several other women helping with national committees.
The company has encouraged its employees to become members and be involved in NWIR by offering to pay the cost of their memberships. They hosted a company-wide event this summer where employees could learn more about NWIR and were able to hear from both Shari and Mardee about the organization. They also support flexibility in work schedules for women. “Most of the women I hire are working from home as corporate program managers,” said Mardee. “We’ve also have a team of field dispatchers and field administrators (men and women) supporting our field staff who are able to work from home.”
Committed to education
Many large employers offer tuition reimbursement programs but typically they require that the employee pay for part of the cost and even commit to working at the company for a long period of time. That’s not the case at WTI according to Mardee. The company partnered with the University of Akron to write a construction management curriculum for them and started the Roofing Individuals Succeed Through Education Program (RISE).
“In the RISE program, every employee is eligible to go through the courses or they can assign it to one dependent,” explained Mardee. “It doesn’t cost them anything, they do not have to commit to working here for an extended period and when they finish they have an associate or bachelor’s degree in construction management. We are working hard to educate our employees and grow our own. In fact, we recently just completed building a federally accredited apprentice program.”
Tremco and WTI are always looking for great people to become part of the team. Learn more by visiting their career center.
Photo caption: Mardee Billingsley, far right, with fellow National Women in Roofing members.