Q: Can you share the origin story of Building Control Solutions?
A: Like any businesses, Building Control Solutions started as an idea. When I began researching the market, I discovered that not only was there room for another HVAC company in the Kansas City market, there were a lot of job opportunities for mechanical companies specializing in DDC controls with a female owner. I was raising a family at the time I was considering starting the company and the flexibility and earning potential inherent in owning your own business was attractive to me. So I made a calculated risk and opened Building Control Solutions in July 2001.
Q: What have you done along the way to ensure your business acumen skills are sharp?
A: While I had experience in various business environments prior to opening Building Control Solutions, I didn’t have a formal degree or industry-specific knowledge so I’ve pursued all sorts of education opportunities. In 2002, I participated in an entrepreneurship training program though the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In 2009-2010, I completed industry-specific training in heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration maintenance at Johnson County College. In 2011, I earned an Associate of Applied Science in Business and Management from Metropolitan Community College. Currently, I’m on track to earn a B.A. in economics from UMKC in 2016.
Q: What are some of your hardest-earned lessons?
A: While the market has been generous to my company, finding the right partners and employees was a challenge at first. These past few years I’ve been investing more time in the company and applying what I’ve learned and we’ve been attracting talent and growing steadily. Today, I’m convinced we have some of the best talent in KC on the operations side and in the field. Once we hire a great employee, we make a point to invest in them and support them so they will stay.
Q: What are some of the ways you have advanced the presence of Building Control Solutions in the Kansas City Community?
A: I’ve come to understand the importance of connecting with key players and especially other women leaders in the industry. I’ve been particularly impressed by events hosted by the Builders’ Association and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Kansas City. One such event was the NAWIC Dinner at KC Sporting Park in April 2015. I invited two other women from my company to join me and found it to be a fantastic networking opportunity and a lot of fun.
I also make a point to show support and loyalty to our most valuable customers. For instance, I always make a point to purchase seats for Avila’s Steer Dinner and Auction. Connecting with customers over a great meal for a good cause? Count me in.
Q: Building Control Solutions is designated as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise because you are a majority owner. Can you share how Building Control Solutions received this designation?
A: Absolutely. I’m a proud member of the Cherokee Nation. I could stop there, but there’s more to my family story. My ancestors survived the Trail of Tears and in Oklahoma, my Great Grandfather Redbird Smith made quite an impact. Redbird Smith was a traditionalist and political activist. He founded the Nighthawk Keetowah Society and served as its chief until his death.
My Great Grandfather was a vocal opponent of the Dawes Allotment Act. When it passed anyways, it ended our communal holding of property. The resulting loss of community, culture, and economic leverage has had ripple effects on subsequent generations. I’m thankful for the DBE status and opportunities it has given me, a reality very different from the struggles of my parents and grandparents.