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Lumber support

image L-R: US Lumber Brokers’ Jenna Vineyard, April Holloway, Donna Koschade and Isabel Rodriguez

AUSTIN - Eleven years ago, Ben Baker established US Lumber Brokers, but what he founded provides much more than domestic and exotic wood and wood products. To his employees Jenna Vineyard, April Holloway, Donna Koschade and Isabel Rodriguez, Baker has created an environment where the four women truly feel valued, listened to, encouraged and supported.

 

 

 

    The decision to help more women get their start in a male-dominated industry was one Baker consciously made, according to assistant manager Rodriguez. She was working as a waitress when Baker, her customer, noticed her people skills and recruited her as an employee. She didn’t know anything about lumber, but Baker was happy to teach her. Rodriguez says over the years, Baker has done the same for other women, who make up about half of his staff.
    “Starting with his hires, there are more women. When I came in, only Jenna and Stephanie were here. Now, we have also have Donna and April,” Rodriguez says. “It makes me feel really good. I work for someone who respects me and who takes the time to teach me. The fact that he showed us respect, made me feel valued and made me feel that I mattered in this company, that is something that I want in a boss.”
    The women are especially proud that they have been a part of the company’s growth and success.
    “The company has changed and grown so much in the last 11 years,” Vineyard, Baker’s first employee who works as an office manager and in sales, says. “I’ve seen the company change from adding employees, to moving locations, to adding delivery trucks, and growing our customer base. It’s been exciting to be with a company from the start. US Lumber Brokers is always trying to be on the forefront and to offer products and services that no one else does. We provide quality products that people want to use on their projects.”
    “I’ve been in the industry for over 11 years and enjoy the opportunity to help my customers facilitate any projects they may have,” sales rep Koschade says, echoing Vineyard’s sentiment. “At US Lumber Brokers, we provide our customers with quality material and service that is unmatched. I am grateful for the relationships that I have built through the years and enjoy seeing the various projects we have provided for.”
    Baker’s approach seems to be working. Besides lumber, the company now also offers doors and windows and hopes to expand to another location within 24 months. The move will allow for a larger showroom and more space for his eight employees and any he hires in the future.
    For now, Baker is helping to build up four strong female employees who are confident in their skills, work and place in the construction world.
    “I am not intimidated and have a thick skin and I think it is a good quality to have in a male-dominated industry,” Holloway acknowledges. “I do think we have a disadvantage going in to start with, but there is less competition after getting in the door. Females bring a little softness to a male-dominated industry. Keep your composure and don’t let things get under your skin. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. I know that’s how I handle it.”
    More important, working at US Lumber Brokers helps the women build qualities in themselves.
    “It has become a great experience for me,” Rodriguez agrees. “At other places, sometimes you feel overlooked and you’re not given the opportunity to do things that you know if you do them you can excel at them. Knowing that someone is willing to give me the opportunity not only gives me a chance to prove myself but shows me how to be better.”
    Austin supplier US Lumber Brokers offers wood products for architectural firms and high-end custom home builders. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net