In honor of Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day, Binswanger Glass Virginia Area Manager Linda Harris took some time to share her insight on teambuilding, leadership and women in the glass industry
A twenty-two year veteran of the glass industry, Linda was hired in 1988 to work in the accounting department for Binswanger’s Virginia Area Office. “Everything was cash and manually accounted on paper back then,” says Harris.
She spent nine years learning the ropes in various roles including accounting, commercial contracts and auto glass sales before taking a 10-year hiatus to work with her husband’s construction company. “Construction and the glass business have always been male dominated industries,” says Harris. “I’ve learned how to work with men in the field.”
Harris returned to Binswanger in 2007 and began working in the company’s City Service Sales Department in downtown Richmond, VA before getting promoted to Branch Manager in 2017 and then Area Manager in January 2020. “There haven’t been many female Area Managers in our company’s 148 year history so when the role was offered to me, I took it.”
Harris, who has seen a lot of changes in products, technology and equipment since originally starting in 1988, says she’s learned a lot about the glass business in the last eight years from a now-retired mentor. “He was like an encyclopedia and would show me exactly what I needed to know.”
Harris has found the roles have reversed and she is now mentoring four women at Binswanger’s Richmond branch. “In our City Service department, you get a variety of projects. You have to learn all of the phases of the business from scratch so I work to help get the team up to speed as quickly as possible. One of the CSSR ladies came to me today with a hardware question so I helped her find the answer. The women at our branch are learning the business faster than my generation did. If you are working at the right company with the right mentor and right people, you are setup to succeed and can learn the business fast.”
Harris feels good leaders need to be approachable, “When I was promoted to Area Manager, I traveled to all of my branches and met with everyone. We talked about their jobs, how long they’ve been with Binswanger, what they do. Approachable leaders build relationships with their team. We like to gather and eat together. It makes a huge difference.”