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Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply

Meet the inaugural class of 'Rising Stars' and 'Business Excellence' honorees.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The convincing case has been made: women are underrepresented in positions of power in Corporate America. And based on the eye test — from years of visiting job sites, trade shows and corner office suites — the high-testosterone, heavy-lifting hardware and building supply industry offers a particularly challenging road to advancement for women.

The male-dominated nature of this business is changing. But we think it can change faster. And embracing diversity is more than just a noble cause. It’s good for business, and it’s good for the industry.

That’s the spirit that guides our first-ever Top Women in Hardware and Building Supply Awards program. It’s our effort to recognize professionals who are making contributions to their businesses and communities. The honorees who appear on the following pages represent a months-long nomination process carried out in the digital pages of HBSDealer.com.

Two categories were called into play:
• Business Excellence Award — Recognizes a woman who has demonstrated achievement, growth and success in the hardware and home improvement industry. She knows the importance of innovative ideas, education, decision-making, mentoring and community service.
• Rising Stars Award — Recognizes a woman considered to be an up-and-coming star in her profession. She has also had significant accomplishments or achieved notable success

Here are some of the remarkable women of the hardware & building supply industry.

Jean Fahy

Jean Fahy
Business Excellence
Division manager, building materials
Do it Best Corp.
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Fahy plays a prominent and visible role in the leadership of Do it Best Corp.’s LBM team. At least twice a year, she takes the stage of the LBM Industry Update event to deliver trends and buying patterns designed to boost profitability (or avoid loss) for the co-op’s members. Her work behind the scenes is equally valuable, and led to her recent promotion to the head of the building materials division, where she has national oversight of the building materials product category, purchasing and sales. Big Brothers and Big Sisters is just one of her charitable ventures beyond the industry.

Sunny Bowman
Business Excellence
Owner
Dakota County Lumber Co.
Farmington, Minn.

Sunny Bowman

Six years ago, Bowman returned to the family business — Dakota County Lumber — while starting a family and teaching yoga. In 2019, she guided DCL to recognition as the 2019 Northwestern Lumber Association (NLA) Minnesota Dealer of the Year. “Sunny believes in what our industry provides, what it is about and will stop at nothing to ensure there is an LBM industry (and viable careers) for years to come,” reads the nomination. She’s active with the (NLA), the Builders Club and the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC), where she is heavily involved in Project Build — a local crusade to develop future lumberyard employees, contractors and industry professionals.
She continues to teach yoga.

 

Wendy Stine

Wendy Stine
Business Excellence
Merchandising director
Stine Lumber
Sulphur, La.

A third-generation leader of Stine Lumber, she has worked in the business since high school, starting at the age of 15. Among her too-many-to-mention accomplishments, Stine is a former duchess of the DeRidder Mardi Gras and the recipient of the 1999 Women of the Year for Beauregard Parish. After years of managing a store and 60 employees, she moved to the corporate office as a buyer, and then on to her current role. Among other responsibilities, she is in charge of the purchase side of the company’s Hurricane Preparedness Plan. During the Baton Rouge flood of August 2016 she mobilized approximately $40 million dollars of emergency supplies to the area. She is a mother of three, a 7-year member of the Ace Paint Retail Input Team and her nomination reads: “She motivates and never expects anything from anyone that she couldn’t or wouldn’t do herself. She is a true leader.”

Elizabeth Civiletti

Elizabeth Civiletti
Rising Star
General manager
Mazzone Ace Hardwaare
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Remember in 2016 when Mazzone Ace Hardware was deemed the Ace All Star Retailer for its support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals? That honor was largely a result of the retailer’s highly successful program — spearheaded by Civiletti — to promote the sale of World’s Finest Chocolate Bars to benefit CMN. The delicious program went national — and today raises more than $500,000 for the kids every year. Civiletti is a six-year hardware industry veteran and mother of four who rose up the ranks from cashier to general manager overseeing two New York City locations. Under her management, the company’s Rockaway Park location became the first Ace store in the city to achieve Pinnacle status, an Ace designation for high performance.

Erica McCorkle

Erica McCorkle
Business Excellence
General manager
Havasu Do it Best Hardware
Lake Havasu, Ariz.

McCorkle’s nomination reads: “She has learned to expertly balance her aggressive, jump-in-with both feet retail approach with the practicality of a seasoned business owner.” Representing, the third-generation of family ownership, she started in the business as a 12-year-old, running the register and cleaning. In 2007, she took on the role of assistant manager, leading a complete interior and exterior remodel of the store. Thanks to careful margin management and overall business acumen, McCorkle’s business reached record sales in 2018, in the face of big box competition (four) and other independents (three) in her market. You can follow her style taste on Pinterest, as many of her customers do — a fact that helped expand the store’s hobby paint offering.

Martha O’Rourke

Martha O’Rourke
Business Excellence
Commercial and residential hardware category specialist
Lumbermens Merchandising Corp.
Wayne, Pa.

A hardware industry veteran for more than 35 years, O’Rourke’s career began in the prison hardware business, a field in which there was a total of six women. (She could count them.) Today, O’Rourke is a commercial and residential hardware sales specialist for Lumberman’s Merchandising Corp. In addition to bringing a tireless work ethic to her position, the official nomination reads: “She influences profitability, obtaining sales, working extremely well with colleagues and customers.”

Denene Williams
Rising Star
Marketing manager
MAX USA Corp.
Plainview, N.Y.

Denene Williams

Since coming on board three years ago, Williams has been responsible for a complete overhaul of all of the activity of the manufacturer’s marketing department. In addition to implementing best practices and ROI improvement, her body of work includes a diversity-friendly campaign titled: “What are you waiting for?” In it, a young girl dressed as a construction worker, curls flowing out from her hard hat, explains the features and benefits of the heavy-duty pneumatic nailing tools in the company’s arsenal.

Amy Smiley

Amy Smiley
Business Excellence
VP of marketing
84 Lumber Company
Eighty Four, Pa.

Smiley generated a huge worldwide buzz in 2017 spearheading her company’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial, doubling the company’s social audience in three days. On a more intimate scale, she spoke recently at her alma mater’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference that empowers young women to continue to grow as leaders in their schools and communities. Day to day, she works hand-in-hand with 22 area managers, 250 store managers and 4 divisional VPs, managing a multi-million-dollar budget that includes partnerships with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins. She also oversees the philanthropic initiatives for 84 Lumber, which donates more than $1 million each year to various causes.

Virginia MacFawn

Virginia MacFawn
Business Excellence
General manager
Rangeley Lakes Builders Supply
Rangeley, Maine

MacFawn displayed her business savvy during the nadir of the housing recession in 2008. That’s when she led a deep dive into every cost-saving aspect of the business — a process that led to spending accountability, overhead reduction and a system that more efficiently tracked credits, damages and errors. From her nomination: “Virginia is the epitome of a small business owner, wearing many hats.” Among them: building an interiors division that has grown to be one of the dealer’s most successful ventures.

Cortnie Gurno

Cortnie Gurno
Rising Star
Director of marketing and human resources
Randall Lumber and Hardware
Taos, New Mexico

Gurno’s growing list of responsibilities include working with local media outlets and organizing community events to drive store traffic. She began working at the pro-focused lumber yard as a teenager working as a cashier. “Back then, there weren’t many females either working here or shopping here,” she said. “Now, both of those sides of the business are seeing more women.” Among her colleagues are her two younger sisters. “A majority of our team is women,” she said. “I really believe that helps, We bring something different to offer.”

 

 

Maria Arhontoulis

Maria Arhontoulis

Rising Star
Director of marketing
World and Main
Cranbury, N.J.

At World and Main, Arhontoulis is directly responsible for the marketing activities across 16 brands and 22 product categories in a variety of sales channels. As such, she’s an ambassador for both her business and the home-improvement industry. From her nomination: “She has taken the traditional marketing role and added her expertise in graphic design, communication and organization to best fulfill the needs of the company.”

 

Samantha Post

Samantha Post

Rising Star
Marketing & HR Manager
T&M Hardware & Rental
Ellwood City, Pa.

Post has taken charge of three key facets of her family business: digital presence and in-store promotions; employee behavior and performance; and the continued success of the company’s Bellevue location, which she manages. She led the company’s move to high-tech digital advertising, and also introduced an incentive plan to boost word-of-mouth publicity.
Among her numerous community activities: she is a member of the Perrysville Business Association, the Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champion and she has been a Make a Wish Foundation volunteer, granting wishes for children fighting cancer.

 

Courtney Bynum
Rising Star
Customer experience manager
Cameron Ashley Building Products
Greer, S.C.

Courtney Bynum

In an “all-encompassing” role at Cameron Ashley Building Products, Bynum acts as a customer advocate, representing their needs to optimize the customer experience. In her role, she has earned a reputation as a go-to source for manufacturers seeking insights on product development. From her nomination: “She has a passion to do what is right for our customers, knowing that is what really matters.” She is also a founding member of the National Association of Women in Roofing serving on the National Education Committee and launching the Carolina’s Chapter of NWIR.

Jillian Krauser
Rising Star
Merchandise manager
Busy Beaver Building Centers
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jillian Krauser

Starting her Busy Beaver career right out of high school, Krauser was recognized as an overachiever early on. She has been promoted by the company many times over her 14 years and today is responsible for category management, program implementation, sales and margin management, and inventory management. One recent success story: a rejuvenated paint department, both in terms of the stores’ product assortment and the staff’s product knowledge. Elsewhere, Krauser has launched a series of training initiatives aimed at developing other employees. She brings “a natural ability to mentor and educate others” to her daily performance, and she “operates with a people first mentality.”

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Do you work with exceptional women? Nominate a candidate for our 2020 Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply by contacting us at [email protected].

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