by Christy Heitger-Ewing

A Woman’s Perspective on Working in the Roofing Industry

There’s no doubt about it: the roofing industry just like much of the construction industry, is male dominated. Even the marketing around it is hyper masculine, with advertising that shows hulking men driving giant trucks, suggesting that it takes a dude to get the job done. But that’s simply not the case. Just ask Millie Hindes, who has been fixing and installing roofs for 15 years. In 2013, she started her own company called Watergate Roofing, offering professional roofing, siding and gutter installation.

Hindes has found that being a woman-owned business works to her advantage as she estimates that 30-40% of her clients choose to hire her because she’s kind, tenacious, and knowledgeable. And she imparts that knowledge with the public.

“On all our social media platforms, we give homeowners tips on helping them figure out where the small issues are coming from with their roof,” says Hindes, who wasn’t born into, nor did she marry into, the roofing business. She was attracted to the industry because she liked the idea of hard work, getting sweaty, and attacking a challenge head-on.

Over a five-year period, she worked for three different bosses. One day her boss was at a job and needed to look at an area of the roof that was a bit steep.

“He was shaking like a leaf, and I thought to myself, ‘Millie, if you can climb this roof and he’s crying like a baby, you need to do this on your own!’ That was an epiphany for me.”

Hindes takes an artisan approach in her business style, making sure to truly listen to customers’ needs. When a potential client calls the office, Denise Gonzalez, the office manager, asks a series of questions before scheduling the client to meet with the roofing team at which time they will walk through all of the issues that were relayed in the initial call with Gonzalez.

Her team is made up of both men and women, including a female sales coach, who has helped everyone better implement the art of listening. This ensures Hindes and her team are crystal clear on what is being communicated.

Hindes, who gets most of her work from referrals, feels that being a woman business owner gives her a different insight in the industry – one that’s appreciated by clients. Given that women are often the ones who manage the households, make the decisions, and talk to the contractors, Hindes easily connects with her clients.

“When I sit down with husbands and wives, it’s usually the wife asking the questions,” says Hindes. “And they’re not necessarily asking about the roof. They know I’ll do that well. They’re worried about the cleanup. They want to make sure their child doesn’t step on a nail and that their car doesn’t get a flat tire.”

While other home construction and design companies might have women salespeople and women managers, that’s not so much the case in roofing.

“It’s challenging to hire and retain female talent in this industry. Just finding women who envision themselves in a roofing role is tough,” she says.

The bottom line is that the roofline is the perfect place for females.

“Honestly, women get mad respect if they can drive a truck, put a ladder up, and get on a freaking roof,” says Hindes. If you’re in need of roofing or siding services, contact Watergate Roofing today.