While I don’t have a trade story as such, like we previously shared from Rebecca Senyard, Bec Sparky or Amelia Lee, I still do have a story to tell as to how I became a business manager for our construction company Fernbrooke Homes.
My Trade Story – Nicole Cox The Builder’s Wife
My story began in late 2009, when while working in Pharmacy, my chosen career for over 13 years, my partner at the time (now The Builder) asked me to assist with the paperwork for the company he shared with his father. I was rather excited to help out, as though I was new to the building side of construction, I had grown up with a plasterer as a Father, and had always fantasized about helping him out with his business.
At first I thought it was a completely different industry to the one I was working in day to day. However as my role began to develop from simple data entry to occasionally dealing with clients, I had the realisation that in fact building was very similar indeed to my role in pharmacy. In pharmacy I was managing teams of staff, working with customers and negotiating with suppliers and wholesalers. We relied heavily on repeat business, so communication was the key to our success. Over time my pharmacy role developed so that I was managing the buying for 13 pharmacies, I got to dabble a little into managing a sales campaign and was working very closely with company reps and staff from all 13 pharmacies, while having to communicate with the owners of the businesses as well. This is where I learned nearly all of my skills.
In 2011 The Builder and I decided that we would give running a company of our own a chance and the now version of Fernbrooke Homes was born. At this point I was working more closely with Adam trying to learn the scope of a construction job and how the process flows. I was on site a lot, and this was met in the beginning with much hostility. We had a large trade base of older men who thought that women should be not on site. It took a little while, but we weeded out those men, and sent them on their way. In their place we built a stronger, supportive and dedicated team of sub-contractors who were as happy to answer to me, a joint director of the business, as they were to The Builder.
One of the biggest struggles I have found is finding my feet in the business. Because I had no formal training as such, I had to carve out my role. As our business has grown, my role has continued to change, while I still am responsible for data entry, I have now begun to work side by side with The Builder to actually manage the jobs as well as the business. At the moment, I can be found most days either in the office or on site checking the job for safety compliance or progression of our trades. I manage the booking of our tradespeople, as well as forward planning of the jobs, all while continuing to manage the business side of things, including this blog.
I feel that in the last 5 years my position has progress from simply being The Builder’s Wife to being The Builder’s equal. We stand shoulder to shoulder in what we do, and I wouldn’t change a thing! I love the construction industry, especially at the moment as it is beginning to make some dramatic changes in the way in which it looks at women in traditionally male held roles.
There is plenty of opportunity in building, for a wife or partner to be as involved as you wish. When making the decision to join the family business I knew that I would do so giving it everything I had. I love jumping in feet first and feeling my way around. I have learnt so much in my short period, and have found so many challenges to overcome, I love it!
Did you ever fall into a role that you love? What is your dream job?