TROY, Mich. — The Michigan Council of the National Women in Roofing organization (NWIR) had its first meeting May 24 at the offices of BNP Media, RC’s corporate owner.
Roughly a dozen women from different companies and fields across the roofing industry located in Michigan and Indiana attended to network, discuss goals and begin planning future events. Hosted by RC’s Northeast Sales Director Liz Obloy, and Publisher Jill Bloom, the event included a candid conversation with Laurie Spencer, co-owner of Spencer Roofing/Spencer Knish Construction, Inc., based in Walled Lake, Mich.
Gathered around a conference table, the small group listened intently as Bloom interviewed Spencer about her unconventional start in the roofing business following the tragic death of her husband, Dave, the company founder, in a motorcycle crash in 2012. The Michigan native spent the bulk of her professional career — 27 years — as a hairstylist, and owned a salon in Metro Detroit for 13 years before entering the roofing industry.
She described the professional obstacles she faced upon making the decision to take on her late husband’s company, and provided an eye-opening view into the murky world of legal unknowns when proper business documentation or a business-crisis plan aren’t in place.
“I practically knew nothing about roofing,” Spencer told the group. “(Dave) was very old fashioned and believed his business was his business and didn’t feel women belonged in this business, period.
“I’m the type of person that if you tell me I can’t do it, it pushes me to want to try and prove them wrong.”
Spencer said she also learned quickly that the roofing business is built on strong personal relationships in all segments of the business, whether in roof installation, product distribution or manufacturing.
“It’s really more a people industry more than a man’s or woman’s world. It’s just all run by men,” she explained.
“It was really interesting to see her story and learn what she had to overcome,” said NWIR member Lyn Hewitt, purchasing and logistics manager for Bloom Roofing in Brighton, Mich.
The National Women in Roofing organization focuses on the empowerment of women within the roofing industry and recruitment. It incorporated in February 2016 and launched membership and sponsorship drives that June. Since then, the group has 20 founding sponsors from across the roofing industry and more than 415 members nationwide. Councils are active in different roofing markets around the country and growing, said Chairwoman Heidi Ellsworth. Visit www.nationalwomeninroofing.com for more information.