Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson and welcome to another edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is Letitia Hanke, the founder and CEO of ARS Roofing, Waterproofing, and more, and more and more. I mean, it’s a construction business. Here you are looking absolutely beautiful. Welcome to Women Mean Business.
Letitia: Thank you very much, Leisa.
Leisa: I want to know all about ARS.
Letitia: So, I’m a roofing and construction company. Roofing, gutters, waterproofing, painting, solar, we just launched our solar company.
Leisa: Where are you located? Who are your customers?
Letitia: I do mainly commercial property management, properties such as hotels, and condo associations, apartment complexes. We do some residential for my referrals. When we get referrals, we do residential, but we mainly do larger projects, industrial buildings, and things of that sort. So, property managers are people that we do the most work for.
Leisa: What made you start a construction business?
Letitia: I had the opportunity and I ran with it. When I was in college, I needed a job. I was working three jobs, gigging, I’m a musician so I was gigging, I was going to school full time and I needed just one job instead of running around. So, I started working for a roofing company as the receptionist, and basically over an 8-year period, I went from receptionist, to the office manager, to the manager of the company. The owner wanted to retire, he trained me for 4 years so I could get my own roofing contractor license, and then I started my own company, hired about 11 of his employees and then just grew my company from there. So, it’s been 21 years, total.
Leisa: How many employees do you have now?
Letitia: I have 23 right now.
Leisa: It’s pretty exciting.
Letitia: Yes, it is.
Leisa: It’s an interesting place for a woman to be.
Letitia: Living my dream as a business owner, no, I did not think I would be a roofer, and I lived my life for a long time as a CEO thinking this roofer mentality. So, I wanted to blend in with the guys because it’s so male dominated. So, I found myself always wearing the t-shirts, or the polo shirts, and the jeans and trying to blend in instead of actually standing out as a female contractor. And with some great advice, I decided to take that advice and kind of decide that I’m a CEO. I started dressing like a CEO, and my mindset went to CEO in that moment, and everything changed for me when that happened. The caliber of clientele grew, I mean it just changed everything.
Leisa: So, accepting who you are and taking advantage of it (Letitia: That’s correct.) was a really great thing for you. I think I heard you have a non-profit side line?
Letitia: Yes. My son’s school used to send notices every week about how they need toilet paper, and they need pencils and pens. I’m like, “This is a school, why do they need pens and paper from the parents?” So, I decided to donate 1% of every re-roof that we did to my clients school of choice. And then I went to a conference, like a women’s conference, and I met a lady there that does non-profits and foundations and she said, “You know, you can start your own non-profit and actually have it be a tax write-off for people.” And I’m like, “That makes perfect sense.” And she just said, “What are the other things that mean a lot to you?” And I said, “Well, you know, health, senior health is important to me. My parents are both diabetic and they have been for years. Music departments are very important to me.
Music because I grew up bullied as a child and music changed my entire life. And so, I wanted to give back to kids that were bullied and they would have an outlet. And then I wanted to train young people in construction, especially women, because there’s barely any women out there that do construction.” And she said, “Well, guess what? You can do one foundation for that.” I said, “Really?” And so now I have all of these three programs under one non-profit. And they’re all things that are dear to me for my whole life. The Lime Foundation is my son’s name spelled backwards. He was bullied as a kid, people called him Lime instead of his name, Emil, and I just named it something that meant so much to me. Every day when I say that name I remember this is for my son, so it means a lot.
Leisa: That’s really awesome.
Letitia: Thank you.
Leisa: So, pretty tremendous success in the non-profit world and the for-profit world. What advice do you have for someone else who would like to achieve success, as you have?
Letitia: Don’t give up. There are going to be obstacles always. No matter how successful you are, or whether you just started, or have been doing it 21 years, there are always going to be obstacles. You just keep going, you don’t stop. Peaks and valleys are normal. You know, you’re going to have that greatest moment, like right now, by the way, and then you’re going to have that low. Just know that there is another peak on the way. And that’s literally the best advice I can give to people is just knowing that even though you’re in that low, a peak is coming.
Leisa: Thank you very much.
Letitia: You’re welcome.
Leisa: There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Astoundz, your One Search, One Click, One Company resource for all things interactive; Website, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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