Sometimes when opportunity knocks, it’s not always the door that you expect. As a young girl, I never dreamed that I would be a leader in the male dominated industry of roofing. It was never on my radar screen. Yet I took a chance on an opportunity at a time in my life when I needed one – and I’ve never looked back since.
I graduated from college during a recession when jobs were scarce. My dreams of international affairs and a law degree were on hold as I had become a mother at a young age. In looking through the job listings, I stumbled upon a job opening for a Roofing Foreman.
The pay was attractive and hard to ignore. While I had no roofing experience whatsoever (or any construction experience for that matter), I knew that I had the management and organizational skills to successfully lead a team. I needed a job to pay for my growing family, so I took a chance. And thankfully, they took a chance on me too.
Sometimes you have to work harder to prove yourself.
As a young woman breaking into an industry that rarely saw women in the field – I had to earn the respect. At first, I think the crew thought it was cute to have a young girl on the team.
But once the novelty wore off, it was time for me to prove myself. There was a lot to learn, so I doubled down.
I threw myself into educating myself in this field. I read every book there was to read, called the manufacturers with questions, took every training available to me, and followed the crew around with a notebook asking questions.
If you want to be a leader in any field, you’ve got to work hard to earn the respect of others. It’s not always easy rising to the challenge, but I was ready to accept it.
My industry is changing for the better – and so can yours.
I’ve come a long way from that millennial young woman just entering a historically male-dominated field. Today, I serve on three boards in the industry, including the National Women in Roofing, where we provide education, mentoring, and support for women from those working on the rooftop all the way to executive management in roofing.
I was also humbled to become the first female and young millennial treasurer of the North East Roofing Contractor Association, a large organization dedicated to supporting the roofing industry in my region. Little by little, leaders in our industry look to improve the technology and customer service for our customers as well as supporting the workers and management to take this industry to the next level.
“Anything is possible if you stay customer-focused,” Greta Bajrami.
I could have focused on what I didn’t have. Having emigrated to this country at the age of, I didn’t have a large network of family friends to spread the word about my business. I didn’t have a family background in construction. I didn’t have any roofing experience.
What I did have was a business degree, a thirst for learning, and the mission to bring excellent customer service to whatever industry I was going to work in.
I knew that I could learn the ins and outs of the roofing industry. But I also knew that I had to be different.
Sometimes, our first instinct is to compare ourselves to others. But I decided that I wasn’t just going to be like every other roofer – without a solid background and the advantage of word of mouth, it would be impossible.
What if we create our own lane entirely?
At Golden Group Roofing, we were going to do things differently instead of “the way things have always been done.”
We use cutting edge technology to produce detailed and accurate proposals for all of our clients, complete with photos and satellite images. Our estimates are exact down to the penny. No more “ballpark estimates” – we knew we could provide the customer with a complete project plan, and let them take their time to decide.
So our customer experience became our differentiator. While other roofers wanted a commitment and down payment during a sales conversation – we went the other direction.
We educate and we listen. I want to hear my client’s objections. Replacing a roof is a major repair for most homeowners, and while some replace their roof as part of a proactive remodeling project, for some other homeowners this is a large unexpected expense that they cannot ignore.
“The sky’s the limit for women – in any industry,” Greta Bajrami
While we still have so much work to do, I can see the progress we are making. If you’re interested in breaking into a male dominated industry, don’t let that stop you!
It can all be possible if you embrace all the resources you have available to you. Today, there are so many avenues of education – both free and paid. Read books, research online, participate in as much training as you can, find a mentor, or get involved with related associations.
You can learn from everyone.
I trained myself to listen to everyone in the room – to the experience of the older professionals to the fresh perspective of the younger professionals. I learned from colleagues from the biggest corporations to the smallest startups. If you listen, you’ll learn a little something wherever you go.
Create your own niche and your own brand.
I’m glad I didn’t listen to those who told me that “roofing wasn’t for women.” Have there been days that I wondered if I could really fit into a man’s industry? Of course! Every entrepreneur has doubts – no matter who they are.
With persistence and insistence on an excellent customer experience, I was able to bring my business and my brand to where it is today. A thriving company that educates, respects, and supports our full time workers. An award-winning brand that puts the customer first, answers their every question, eliminates unwanted surprises, and puts their mind at ease as they make their decision on one of the biggest ticket items on their property.
We found our niche and made it ours. And you can too.