Women in Flooring: Sheri Gorman – Synonymous with expertise, dedication

Home Inside FCNews Women in Flooring: Sheri Gorman - Synonymous with expertise, dedication

February 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 17

By Jenna Lippin

When people are looking for a knowledgeable, dedicated leader on the commercial side of the flooring industry, many of them will say they are looking for a “Sheri Gorman.” Specifically, they will be looking for someone who will be the solid representation of a company, someone who can talk to anybody about anything and is willing to get involved, do more and continue to learn. These traits are synonymous with Gorman’s name.

With a background in interior design, Gorman, vice president of marketing and A&D for RD Weis Companies, a major commercial flooring contractor based in New York, didn’t see herself getting into flooring—and now she is happy to stay with it.

After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in interior design during the economic downturn in 1991, Gorman went home to New York and had a hard time finding a job. Through word of mouth she ended up at a wall covering company, which eventually landed her with a similar entity for eight years. Her entrée into flooring didn’t come until 1999 as an A&D rep for Milliken Carpet.

“I was with Milliken for three years before leaving to join a furniture company, then I sold fabric; I was figuring out what I wanted to do. Then Randy [Weis, owner of RD Weis] called me during that second year of determining what my plans were. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but I went. When I went back to flooring I realized I do love it. Some of my best friends are mill reps and have been for years.”

Gorman originally met Weis through dealings with Milliken in 1999. After staying in touch through mutual friends in the industry—in fact, Gorman was at RD Weis’ 10-year anniversary party—he came to Gorman looking for a new A&D rep after having many failed attempts.

“When I first came to RD Weis in 2007 as an A&D specialist I was responsible for working with architects and designers, helping specify products and promoting the RD Weis name and brand in the marketplace.” Over the years Gorman’s role developed and grew, becoming more involved with marketing and establishing strong relationships with end users, including those on the maintenance side of the business. “We’ve also brought in exclusive products over the time that I have helped brand and launch in our market.”

While developing her prominent position at RD Weis, Gorman also came to play a significant role in numerous industry groups and initiatives, including Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership, specifically its Next Generation Group, Environmental Committee and 50 in 15 campaign, which set a goal of recycling 50 million pounds of carpet in 2015 (results to be released soon). Gorman is also currently serving her second term with the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE).

“I have been involved with Starnet since I started at RD Weis. My phone rang my first week here and it was Fred [Williamson, Starnet’s vice president of operations] looking for people to join the Environmental Committee. I’ve been on it ever since. We try to promote awareness—not just how much carpet is recycled, but what companies do for the environment through office operations, the products they make and how employees live their lives outside of work. We try to make it easy for people to get involved.”

When Gorman is asked how her gender has played a role in her career, she shrugs, thankful that being a woman hasn’t been much of an issue for her. She attributes part of this sentiment to living and working in New York City, a metropolis that is generally more diverse and liberal than other regions in the country.

“I have seen an increase in women involved in Starnet over the last couple of years,” she noted. “More women are owning their own businesses, more wives are joining in. [The industry] is definitely a boys’ club, but I don’t think there has been a time that I haven’t gotten the respect I deserve. We are a minority, but I’ve always been respected.”

That respect has certainly been earned, Gorman said, particularly because she is eager to speak up and support causes in which she believes. “I sat in a meeting once and didn’t agree with what was being said; I spoke up and told everyone that. Later I asked Randy if that was OK, and he said, ‘Absolutely!’ I won’t let people walk over me. I’m a New Yorker!”

While Gorman believes women by nature are often more persuasive than men, she encourages fellow females to find jobs they are passionate about—that will bring the most success. “You want to make money but you want to love getting up in the morning. There was a time before RD Weis that I changed jobs after I had a baby. I was getting up to go to work and I was miserable leaving my baby. How could I have been miserable leaving and miserable at my job? I have to be happy at work if I’m going to leave my kid every day.”

Part of the passion she continues to have for her job at RD Weis comes from the guidance offered by Weis himself. Through his support Gorman has been able to grow and evolve with company, earning respect from her coworkers and the industry as a whole. “Randy pushes me to do things, to get involved; he doesn’t say no. He has been extremely supportive since I came here. He let my position evolve and let me do what I want to do.

“Everyone comes to me—I’m the mother, babysitter, cleaning staff and more,” she joked. “Really I keep things together.”

Playing various roles at RD Weis while maintaining leadership positions throughout the industry has helped Gorman make a name for herself, something she is most proud of when she reflects upon her career. “I feel that because of my involvement in national organizations, when people say my name it is known, and that is a nice thing.”

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