RC: How long have you been in the roofing industry and how did you get your start?
LL: My degree is in risk management and insurance so I pursued that side of the industry first. I started as a local field insurance adjuster a little over 15 years ago, and I’m so thankful for that experience because I feel that it has helped me be more empathetic and understand the thought process of adjusters. After five years, I worked for a general contractor where you tend to wear many hats. I started as an estimator, became the operations manager and then moved to finance manager and oversaw accounts receivable, accounts payable, controller, human resources, the office staff, and IT. I truly believe that I’m way ahead of the curve when starting my own company because of the overall exposure I had in how a company functions.
RC: You’ve built a career in the roofing trade, but you just launched your own business for the first time. What motivated you to take that leap?
LL: I was working for a national construction consulting firm where I was able to use and refine my existing skillset to help other construction companies become more efficient and reach their goals. That was such a fun job! I’m a problem solver by nature, so when I could help someone work through an issue and “move the needle” even a little bit, I felt so fulfilled. I was there for a year when our parent company got acquired by another law firm and we were downsized.
I was given the gift of freedom and endless possibilities. I decided to take a week back in my hometown, back to my roots, and dive deep into what I truly wanted in my life. I called it my “Lee-treat,” instead of retreat. I focused on what makes me happy, what drives my ambition, and what my personal purpose is. Everything kept leading me back to owning my own construction company. After saying it out loud once, I knew that this is what I’m meant to do. It was then that Levello Construction was born.
LEE LIPNISKIS, 37
OWNER/CEO LEVELLO CONSTRUCTION
LOCATION: Denver, Colo.
COLLEGE: Ball State University
FAMILY STATUS: Single
RC: What type of work does your company do?
LL: Levello Construction is a woman-owned general contracting company with a focus on residential exterior systems. We believe in production at a higher level and focus on giving our clients deliberate building solutions for their individual needs. The biggest challenge in the Colorado market right now is the lack of storms. Historically, we’ve been known to have a hail storm or two every year. We have not had a significant storm in over three years now. Companies solely dependent on insurance claim work are struggling and going out of business, especially if they are strictly a roofing company. As a startup and a general contractor with a broader scope of expertise, I can more easily adapt to the changing market.
RC: Do you see your age as an advantage or disadvantage in this business?
LL: I do not see my age as either an advantage or disadvantage. Same way that I don’t see myself as a woman in the roofing industry as an advantage or disadvantage. My age is one thing that I have zero control over. What I do have control over is my discipline, attitude, and how I treat people. That is what matters to me. I love the construction industry and I’m passionate about the betterment of it. I want to be on the forefront of solving, not perpetuating, the gap between different groups of people; i.e., men and women, millennials and Boomers, contractors and adjusters, etc.
RC: What area of your roofing business are you the most passionate about? Why?
LL: I’m not just passionate about it, I’m obsessed with the entire client experience. It starts with the first impression through my website, social media, or initial contact all the way through the process and ends with the handwritten thank you card I send when the job is complete. It is all encompassing with the brand and reputation of Levello. The customer is the most important aspect of any business and are the driving revenue force.
RC: Are you involved in any trade associations or professional organizations?
LL: I’m on the board of directors for National Women in Roofing (NWiR) and have been involved from the start of the organization. Being a part of NWiR has given me the opportunity to network with women from all over the country. Not only have I developed some amazing friendships, I also have quite a few mentors from all areas of the roofing industry I can call and get advice from. It has played a pivotal role in my development both personally and professionally these last few years and I hope to continue to pay it forward for other women in the industry.
RC: What’s next?
LL: I’m really in a growth mindset right now so short-term plans consist of analyzing our first year’s data and implementing our marketing plan accordingly. Longer term is all expansion and embracing the ever-changing Colorado market.
RC: What are you doing when you’re not thinking about roofing?
LL: I would love to know who is in the roofing industry and doesn’t think about roofing all the time. It pumps through my veins 24/7. Living in beautiful Colorado gives me the opportunity to go into the mountains and either hike or walk around the ski towns. When I need to clear my head, I like to paddle board, golf, run, or lift weights. If I need to spark my creativity, I love to draw, paint, or make jewelry.
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