The share of women in the construction industry has remained shockingly low—under 3%—for decades, due in large part to the discrimination that blocks women from entering and staying in the field. This, according to a 2014 report from the National Women's Law Center.
That said, the barrier is crumbling thanks to the vanguard of no-nonsense women who seem to walk right over it. Wendi Zubillaga, who was recently promoted to president of PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, encourages women to take advantage of being the only female in the room.
“Use it intelligently, be 100% professional,” she says, “It go can never go sideways. But if you are confident, and you know what you are talking about, whether you are a man or a woman, you are going to make a good impression."
With 3,000 employees across five states, PetersenDean is the nation’s largest privately-held roofing company. When Zubillaga joined the company over 20 years ago, it was achieving $3 million in revenue out of it’s Fremont, Calif. location. Today, the company has more than a million roofs under its belt and $350 million in annual revenue.
Zubillaga’s new role morphed from her previous position as chief sales officer, and removes a layer of complexity between the company’s division presidents and decisions from corporate.
“I’m now in the power to make the changes that need to be made,” she says. Zubillaga credits founder and CEO Jim Petersen as instrumental in her growth along the way.
In a statement, Petersen commends Zubillaga’s role in the company’s success: “She has a proven track record of success that spans a wide variety of clients, allowing her to work with all styles, technologies, budgets and approaches. She works with builders big and small across the nation and so she knows the ins and outs of new residential construction.”
From an industry standpoint, Zubillaga recognizes a lean post-recession workforce where individuals wear many hats. The landscape creates opportunities for sub-contractors to be more aligned with their builders, and individuals to rise up in their own organizations. As president of the Builder Group, she's optimistic PetersenDean's focus on solar roofing and American-made products in particular will continue to spur growth.