From her humble beginnings in the early 1980s when she sold the family cars to start a business, Sandra Sedillo-McGlothlin has not forgotten what allowed her to rise to the top as a Hispanic woman in the male-dominated roofing industry.
“I just had to prove that I was knowledgeable and serious about my job,” said Sedillo-McGlothlin, 50, co-founder and partner (with Ronnie McGlothlin) of Empire Roofing Ltd. in Fort Worth, Texas.
Nearly three decades later, Sandra Sedillo-McGlothlin has proven that knowledge, perseverance and the drive to excel are key ingredients in the recipe for success.
Empire Roofing was formed in 1982 at the family kitchen table when Sandra was 20 and Ronnie was 21. “We had one child, Mark, who was 2 years old, and I was pregnant with our daughter, Cheryl,” she said. “We sold our cars to get the company started.”
Empire Roofing generated sales of $150,000 in the first year, and revenue stayed relatively the same for the next four years.
“We pretty much scraped by for the next five years, facing all kinds of obstacles along the way,” Sedillo-McGlothlin said. “We always paid our employees first. After a while, we looked at each other and said, ‘This is going to work.’”
Why wouldn’t it? Seven of the eight original employees who helped start the company are still among Empire’s current enrollment of 250 employees. And today Empire Roofing is a $37 million a year business.
“We are a full-service company that specializes in roof replacement and the repair of commercial office and industrial properties,” she said. “The company has expanded to include operations in Austin, El Paso and Houston, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Pompano Beach, Florida; and Juarez, Mexico.”
For her continued efforts, Sedillo-McGlothlin recently received the Wells Fargo/United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Businesswomen of the Year award.
“I am extremely honored to be named Hispanic Businesswoman of the Year,” she said. “Being recognized with the Wells Fargo/USHCC Hispanic Businesswoman of the Year Award for my business achievements and community involvement has been a true honor for me. I hope my experiences will help other women entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and their businesses. I have seen women do great things when it comes to business, and sometimes all it takes is trust in yourself.”
She was also recently honored by the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce with the Latino Legends Award.
“This was also a tremendous honor for me as a Hispanic woman,” she said. “I was nominated based on my activities within the local Hispanic community. I have been pretty active for the past 10 years, holding various leadership and committee roles.” She is the current chair of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“One of the committees I worked on helped bring a second Mexican consulate office to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which made a significant impact on the needs of Hispanic workforce and employers,” she said.
The Dallas Business Journal also named Sedillo-McGlothlin one of the area’s most influential women in its 2008 Women to Watch profiles.
Early on, it was a challenge at times for Sedillo-McGlothlin to make her mark in the industry, especially since females were almost nowhere to be found on roofs in the early years.
“For a long time, roofing was male-dominated. You couldn’t find too many women - even working behind the scenes in the office,” she said. “For a while, I was considered ‘just a wife’ who came along to business meetings and various functions. It took a while for some to get used to me. After a while, I started getting taken seriously.”
Sedillo-McGlothlin said anyone new to the roofing industry - man or woman - has a lot to prove. She stated that she has always tried to “step up to the plate.”
“And insist that I not be treated any differently than any male competitor,” she said. “I do not want to be solely defined by my ethnicity as a businessperson.”
Instead of focusing on the challenges, Sedillo-McGlothlin prefers to talk about the “best thing” about being a Hispanic woman in the roofing industry.
“I’ve been told that I’ve broken barriers for other women, and if I can be a good role model for Latinas, I think that’s great,” she said. “I tell you it’s been very rewarding to see more and more women join the roofing industry ranks. It’s been great to witness the evolution in our industry. The truth is it’s been fascinating to see women in all areas of business grow and even thrive.”
More Than Roofing
Sandra Sedillo-McGlothlin characterized herself as a “very serious when it comes to business.”
“But I also like to have fun,” she said. “I like to hang out with friends - and I have a lot of friends in the roofing industry. We like to get together because we certainly have a lot in common.”
Outside of the roofing business, Sedillo-McGlothlin’s life generally revolves around family and friends, and she enjoys “socializing, entertaining, traveling and just having a good time.”
Her family consists of two adult children who were raised in the family business - Mark McGlothlin, 28, the company’s superintendent, and Cheryl McGlothlin, 25, the marketing coordinator - both based in Fort Worth.
“There’s nothing she won’t try to do and she’ll try to do the best job she can,” said Ronnie McGlothlin, 50, Sandra’s husband and President of Empire Roofing. “As far as a business partner, you couldn’t ask for anyone better. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She’s not afraid to ask questions and learn. She’s ambitious - we both are.”