Top Women Profile: Amy Bass Messersmith

Putting people first at Builders FirstSource.
Amy Bass Messersmith
Amy Bass Messersmith, Chief People Officer

Her career path led through Pizza Hut, PepsiCo, the consulting business and health care, (among others). Now, Amy Bass Messersmith finds herself in the building material distribution business, after joining Builders FirstSource in March of this year as Chief People Officer.

It didn’t take long for LBM to rise to the top of her favorite-industries list.

“I’m authentically blown away by how much heart, how much work ethic and commitment our people demonstrate every day in our plants and facilities and stores,” she told HBSDealer through a Zoom interview from her home in Dallas. “It’s really heartwarming. And it’s been a humbling experience.”

"Wood and water are resources. Coal and natural gas are resources. But people are people.”
Amy Bass Messersmith

Charged with delivering best-in-class human resources capabilities for the company’s more than 28,000 team members, Messersmith was purposeful in choosing the word “people,” over “human resources” in her title.

“Wood and water are resources,” she said. “Coal and natural gas are resources. But people are people. I think the words matter. And how I choose to do the job and serve the company will always be with a people-first perspective.

“And I really believe that he or she who keeps their people, wins all the marbles,” she added.

A voice for allies and advancement

Amy Bass Messersmith will share more of her thoughts on the people side of business success during the upcoming Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply Awards event in Chicago Nov. 8-9. She will participate on the Allies and Advancement panel, a role for which she is well versed, given her background as a member of the Dallas Executive Women’s Roundtable and the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business Graduate Program Mentorship Board.

Mentorship has been a popular buzzword, but Messersmith advocates turning up the volume to develop strong leaders.

“It’s more important than simply mentoring, it’s a matter of sponsoring, especially if we want to bring more women into the circle,” she said. “It’s sponsoring in ways that they actively endorse you for growth. It’s a powerful way to help advance careers and build leaders.”

In the competition for high quality people, Messersmith joins the ranks of industry leaders who are looking at an historically neglected segment of the population as a source of LBM industry talent: women. And while it didn’t take long for her to recognize the imbalance in the LBM workforce, she was also quick to identify positive signs from the field.

“What I’ve been seeing as I tour our sites are women working in our plants and our yards. We have many women who are running our precision saws and machinery. I think this is a great business for women,” she said. “And I’m discovering that many of the myths or stereotypes [about women in construction roles] really can be overcome.”

A high-priority myth to dispel is the one that suggests building material operations is all muscle and brawn. “That’s just not true,” she said. “We have high-tech automation, robotics, programmable machinery. Both men and women can enjoy great success and careers in this business.”

[Learn here about HBSDealer’s Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply Event, Nov. 8-9 in Chicago.]

Laying out the career path for people to progress into leadership roles is an important part of winning the recruitment and retention battle, she said. And Builders FirstSource is “proactively leaning in” to that mission. One example is the August launch of the Women of Builders FirstSource National Employee Resource and Leadership Development Group.

The purpose of the new venture is to provide a forum for women in the company to make connections, as well as to invest in their development and nurture their corporate ambitions.

“Anytime you’ve got 50% of the population that is somehow not being fully invited to the party; well, that’s everybody’s problem,” she said. “I see Builders FirstSource as a premier leader in this industry. And so we should bear some responsibility to help make a positive impact in the industry.”

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