By Karen Edwards, RCS Editor.
Riverside, California-based AAA Roofing by Gene was started nearly 30 years ago by Gene Smith. He knew one day he would likely pass the business on to his son(s), but probably never imagined that would happen after he had daughters instead.
Gene’s daughters, Miranda and Madison Smith, would accompany their father to work and they would have fun running around the yard. After growing up and heading off to college, Miranda wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for her career. She was majoring in business with an emphasis on human resources. While in school, she worked for her father part-time as a receptionist. Little did she know that this would become her full-time career.
“I started as the receptionist and then moved into doing some accounts payable and accounts receivable work,” Miranda explained. “Over the last five years, I was able to move my way up into the role I have now as Controller and Human Resources manager.”
Miranda said at first it was a little tough working in a mostly male company, but she said she learned quickly that there are times you must put your foot down and be assertive. “In my HR role, I deal with our male employees on a day-to-day basis, so it was important for me to set the tone for how things are going to be.”
Gene’s other daughter, Madison Smith, is the maintenance manager at AAA Roofing, handling service, maintenance and tenant improvements. She manages the service managers and all operations in the department.
Madison has been at the company for five years. “I started without a specific role in the company,” explained Madison. “Back then a position opened up to track sales for service and maintenance. I got thrown into the first rainy season handling 50-70 service calls a week. We were still writing out reports by hand and emailing pictures as separate files. I thought my hair was going to fall out.” The company now uses project management software that eliminates the need to use paper and improves efficiency and productivity.
She has faced some challenges in her career because of her gender. “To get the same opportunities as the other estimators I have to be more then knowledgeable about the trade and installation,” she said. “When I first started I would come into work with an ‘I can prove you wrong attitude’ and I’ve learned that roofing is a learning process, and if I have questions on something, 9 times out of 10 the other guy has the same question. I take pride in the fact that I work in an industry with less than 1% of women working in it.”
AAA Roofing Marketing Manager Priscilla Arvizu wasn’t born into roofing like Miranda and Madison, but it has become her passion. “Miranda is my best friend, and that’s how I got into the industry,” explained Priscilla. The two met in college while working part-time at a retail store. After graduating with a degree in marketing and public relations, Priscilla went to work for a PR agency. “It was very corporate and very different from roofing,” said Priscilla.
When the job with the PR agency didn’t work out, Miranda suggested that Priscilla put her marketing skills to work to help AAA Roofing. “I freelanced for the company for a few months while I was taking some classes and began growing more and more passionate every time I brought in a big time client account” she said. “I was able to bring that passion and experience to AAA Roofing.”
Priscilla handles business development, marketing, publicity and donations to the community. She began an internal shift in the integration of business development, customer service, and marketing. With a strategic business expansion plan and prospecting skills she’s helped grow the business vastly almost doubling the company’s annual revenue since she started in 2015.
Meeting with building owners and consultants as a young woman in the industry, she said it’s been challenging at times. “Through email and over the phone people take me seriously but as soon as we meet in person, they see a young woman who is kind of short and it’s definitely not what they expected,” explained Priscilla. She’s found that it’s happening much less often, mostly because of the networking and relationship building that she has been doing. “People are starting to know my name and my company. I network a lot with the other trades as well who end up passing leads on to me,” she said.
All three women are active members of the NWIR So Cal chapter. “Knowing that you have a place in the industry and knowing that so many other women are involved as well is a really great thing,” concluded Miranda.