Brittany Wimbish shares personal and professional success at NWIR Day 2019.
My family has been in the roofing industry for over 40 years, and I’ve been in the industry for approximately 10 years. I began as a receptionist working at our family roofing and construction business and was only expected to handle miscellaneous tasks. However, I was eager to learn more about the business and now I am now the manager of operations and administration of Fields Roof Service, Inc. and Top Rung Construction Co. out of Kent, Washington.
As you grow in this industry as a woman, there are not many other women available to seek advice from or relate to. When I was asked to attend the informational meeting for the creation of the Seattle Chapter of National Women in Roofing (NWIR) by RCS Influencer and NWIR 2019 Chair, Jennifer Stone, I was ecstatic! I have become driven by the idea of cultivating a group of other women with similar experiences and stories to learn from. The roofing sisterhood that works within this male-dominated industry has so many perspectives. If we can band together to help the next woman coming into the industry feel a sense of belonging, support, and easier navigation, we will only continue to help our industry become better.
As a member of the Seattle Chapter of NWIR, I feel empowered to make even bigger decisions to further my career. One of those first choices this past year was to attend my first NWIR Day at IRE. On top of it being my first NWIR Day, it was my first roofing expo. Initially, I felt I needed to justify why I wanted to go, break down the budget to go, and convince the powers that be that sending me would be worth the investment. I’ve learned many women have felt this way in this circumstance. I knew that going to NWIR Day was going to be impactful, and whatever I needed to do to get around the association was going to be worth it. And it was.
Lucky enough, we have a driven and committed board of women heading up our Seattle Chapter. Each of them made individual decisions to attend NWIR Day and IRE, and it was later, that we all realized we would get to experience it together. Of approximately 35 members of the Seattle Chapter, 7 of us attended.
- Lori Swanson – Guardian Roofing (owner)
- Morgan Roth – Guardian Roofing (exec assist)
- Monica Parks – Propel Insurance (partner)
- Rae July – Chinook Roofing (acct rep)
- Brittany Murray – Chinook Roofing (production coordinator)
- Lucinda Creasy – RoofMasters (owner)
- Brittany Wimbish – Fields Roof Service (manager)
Sunday after NWIR Day, Monica Parks was able to coordinate space for us to meet for lunch at one of her client’s locations, Diskin Cider. We were able to continue discussing the impact of the speakers at NWIR Day and what each of us got from the breakouts. The excitement from the previous day helped open candid conversations about our chapter goals, frustrations within the chapter, and what we wanted to get from being a part of the chapter.
One of the big projects we have taken on is a SheBuild Project with the partnership of Rebuilding Together South Sound. Rebuilding Together has a mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives. As an NWIR Chapter, we are the volunteer leadership. So, we took the time that afternoon to assess how planning was going, provide updates on our participation in the planning, and then map out next steps and timelines. Some of us have never put on a harness or held a nail gun so we have been able to execute a training day of shingle installation thanks to Guardian Roofing and Fall Safety training at Chinook Roofing. But that day we were able to walk away from the meeting taking ownership of our tasks, feeling inspired and determined to have this project executed well.
Our next adventure was to follow up on a conversation from the night before and get tattoos! One of us got their first tattoo, another a touch-up, and three of us got new ones. There were a few onlookers that just enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement! We’ve been able to cultivate a sisterhood of trust throughout this trip. I believe it has to do with our ability to be open with one another and truly see this as an environment of openness and understanding.
That evening we ended up gathering at Sambuca, a great restaurant in Nashville for dinner that had a great jazz band. We spoke about mentorship and how we could help each other in our careers, and also shared our obstacles and triumphs. We each are striving to create a growth culture in our businesses and talked about where that starts. We discussed overcoming sexism with salary and wages. We all have different stories, but we can find so many similarities.
Even though our collective backgrounds and experiences are so varied – from a new company owner rebranding to long term ownership, to management and administration – we’re still able to give advice and ask vulnerable questions within our group. Adding value to the newest member and offering an array of information and support begins with who we are as a group; which is why we are planning to have mentorship-focused meetings in the latter half of this year. We’re hoping to have it unfold in two ways: one, where a member will tell their story and the other chapter members will ask questions about their experience; and two, where a member will raise a problem or question and the other members will provide their perspectives to help address it. I have personally seen through the NWIR when women help other women it allows each to grow personally, grow their careers and grow as a community.
Being a part of National Women in Roofing has already helped me become more confident in myself and my skill set because I know I have great women supporting me, cheering me on, allowing me to be me, and to focus on my career within this great industry. Our biggest impact as an association is going to be with the newest members. I saw this while volunteering during the IRE at the National Women in Roofing booth. It was great meeting women that were already a part of the association; especially learning how they are involved in our industry, and how they got started.
The most impactful thing you can tell a potential new member is your story. I heard multiple prospects say how passionate we are and how they are excited to join their local chapter and learn about NWIR. Each person that volunteered at our booth was genuinely focused on helping that next new person. Which is why our Seattle Chapter has reached out to our location Roofing Contractors Association of Washington and we were able to attend and have a booth at their trade show. Our local roofing community needs to know who we are and what we are doing, and this is just one of the first steps we’re taking. I am excited to take my experiences at NWIR Day and IRE to the RCAW and our industry plus our upcoming meetings so we can continue rallying that next new person.
For more information on NWIR, visit www.naitonalwomeninroofing.org.