Women of the flooring business: seize every opportunity to grow your career

Home Column Women of the flooring business: seize every opportunity to grow your career

By Kathy Case—”I deal with a woman at home; I won’t deal with one on the job.” You have either heard some version of this statement or felt this attitude. How you respond to this will define your ability for success.

This statement was the first direct confrontation I had to address in my career. The younger me would have popped him but, at the time, I recognized this option was not the solution. To argue his statement would have been pointless—my words would have likely been twisted to prove his point. I remained silent, avoiding engagement, and turned my focus on the building owner’ eyes. Being particularly impressed with my self control and professionalism, the building owner awarded me the job— which required him to work with me. This resulted in one of the greatest lessons of my career: Effective communication requires assessing your audience and responding in terms they can understand.

My career started in 1979 when, typically, the only women on the jobsite were either designers or administrators. Because I was headed to college for a business degree, my dad employed me to handle his books and generate union reports. During my spare time, I learned how to estimate complex commercial ceramic tile projects by reading a Dodge McGraw-Hill pamphlet, doing estimates on old projects and comparing them to the completed work. By the time I graduated college, I was proficient at reading contract documents, which was the foundation for me to launch into sales. Convinced of the importance of field experience, I started installing ceramic tile. For women to be respected, they must immerse in learning to provide the greatest value.

In September 1985, I had to pivot to run the entire company with a team of 50 union installers as a result of my father’s untimely death. My success was due in part to the support and guidance that I received from many professionals throughout the industry. In 1990, when the company was closed, I broadened my knowledge, including learning how to estimate sheet vinyl and carpet. As a member of the Construction Specifications Institute, I gained respect for spec writers who are rushed by building owners to release construction documents. This is when I changed my focus to estimating. After working for several prominent flooring con- tractors, I started Takeoff Co., with the intention to be a resource for contractors when they were short with estimators and risked missing deadlines

Throughout my career, I was fortunate to get help and realize women struggle to find sources for information and training. The Women of the Flooring Business comprises members from various backgrounds and diverse levels of experience. Networking within the group provides the opportunity to grow and support each other.

Kathy Case began her career in the commercial ceramic tile industry. She is experienced in project management, sales and executive management as well as estimating. In 2019, she founded Takeoff Co. LLC, a contract estimating service.

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