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In Honor of Women History Month

Meet the Women of Western Millwork Inc (aka WestMillAZ on social media, WMI internally).

According to the National Women's History Alliance, states began declaring the whole month of March as Women's History Month all the way up until 1986, when a more national push finally made headway. The following year, Congress declared March 1987 as the first official Women's History Month. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women. Purple signifies justice and dignity. So we thought this would be the perfect time to introduce to you some of the special women that represent Western Millwork Inc.

When you think of an industry dominated by men, construction might be one of the first that comes to mind. Of all the people working in construction, women comprise only 10.3 percent. Even smaller is the number of women on the front lines of a job site—only one for every 100 employees in the field. Considering that women make up 47 percent of all employed individuals, this means that the construction industry is only benefitting from about 1.25 percent of women in the workforce. Read more about the State of the Industry in 2021 here and here on Construction Dive.

We asked these amazing women the following six questions, see what they have to say and get to know them!

1. Name, title.

2. How long at WMI.

3. What made you decide to get into the construction industry.

4. What do you love about the industry.

5. Any advice for other women who would like to get in the industry?

6. (3) Fun tidbits about you.

1) Erin Schroeder, Production Controller.

2) At WMI 5 years.

3) Deciding to get into manufacturing was almost an accident. I had a lot of previous experience in managing a warehouse, shipping, customer service, sales, and I was recruited to leave my previous job to fill a position managing one of Western’s warehouses. From there, I began taking on more responsibility running a fixture program and working directly with that customer. When we decided to discontinue the program, I was promoted to Production Manager for our Stone and Solid surface division, and I had already begun handling all of our southbound customs and shipping to the Nogales plant. Slightly over a year ago I was promoted again to Production Controller. I now schedule for both the Phoenix and Nogales plants, while still handling customs and visiting Nogales regularly.

4) I love watching the raw material being transformed into beautiful finished goods. I enjoy walking a jobsite at the beginning when the walls are barely up, and then again at the end once everything is installed. Also no day is ever the same.

5) My advice for other women who would like to get in the industry is - Don’t be intimidated! It’s not a field I grew up dreaming to get into, but it is so rewarding. Everyday is always a new challenge, and I have met some amazing people along the way.

6) Fun tidbits about me - I’m from Connecticut originally, my husband, daughter and I moved to Phoenix 7 years ago. My number one bucket list item is to cage dive with Great White Sharks. (I’m currently in Hawaii to snorkel with some reef sharks). I love to travel and go on adventures.

Also, my daughter Claire has decided she’s coming to work at Western when she’s old enough!

1) Cheyenne Campbell, Project Manager.

2) At WMI 2 years last September, going on 3 years!

3) I’ve always loved construction and everything design.

4) Watching something being built from the ground up is my passion. Making a designers vision come to life is rewarding, and plus I get to spend someone else’s money on gorgeous material!!

5) Advice to women in getting into the industry - Unfortunately, construction is a man’s world but NEVER GIVE UP! Women belong here too!!

6) Fun tidbits: Having girl number #3 in June!! I love the snow/cold weather. ASU Alumni. Go Sun Devils!

1) Samantha Gephart, Purchasing Agent.

2) At WMI for 16 months.

3) I got into the industry because I have a divers background in purchasing, and found myself interviewing for a position with Western Millwork. Although I had never worked in construction before I knew that it is an always evolving industry, which is what I was looking for.

4) I love the industry because I love the creativity, no two projects are the same.

5) My advice is - Be confident in yourself and your work. Apply for the job even if you think you are under qualified, you might surprise yourself.

6. Fun tidbits about you.

- Native Arizonan

- I love Jeeps

- My background is in Fashion Marketing

1) Li Jackson, Business Development Manager, Sales & Marketing.

2) Joined WMI in August of 2020.

3) I got into construction by happenstance. You may say it's inevitable. WMI was a client of mine at a previous company, and when the pandemic took a toll on the tradeshow world, I was offered a contract with WMI which I happily accepted. Best decision ever!

4) What I love about this industry is the daily unknown of the projects and the people you encounter. I built my career in the exhibit industry, so I have always loved seeing a design come to life for the few days that it is on the tradeshow floor. In the construction world, that design comes to life permanently. The Allegiant Raiders Stadium was my first project with WMI, and to see the stadium in living color, it's nothing else like it. Pretty spectacular proud feeling. I live for this!!

5) My advice for any woman who is interested in getting into the industry.... #1 is to grow a thick skin. Work hard and smart, listen, learn, be a team player. If you make a mistake, apologize and make it right. Mistakes can cost money, better ask questions if you're unsure. Never ever assume anything.

6) Three fun tidbits about me: I go to dance class 2x/week, play tennis 1-2x/week, and I have a tech podcast with my sister.

1) Paula Fogle, H.R. Manager

2) Since April 2020

3) The idea of being a part of an industry that creates something tangible that society will rely on for years to come appealed to me.

4) I love the camaraderie . . . the construction industry involves many people working together towards a common goal.

5) My advice is – Get tougher, and don’t let things get personal. Women need to take a chance and believe in themselves.

6) 1. I am an Arizona Native. 2. I played high school basketball (5’4” point guard). 3. If I could pick one Super Power, I would choose the power to heal others.

1) Madai (pronounced Mad-dee) Alvarez, Administrative Assistant.

2) Brand spankin' new at WMI. Came over from our other division, Highborn Cabinetry.

3) What I love about WMI and the construction world are the many ways that can help you grow. There is opportunity in every single direction.

4) Fun tidbit about me is that I love to dance, at home, alone, via virtual classes. :)

Not pictured.

1) Lindsey Herrell, Senior Estimator.

2) At WMI 18+ years.

3) "Lindsey is so camera shy and hate being in the spotlight. This woman is one of the most talented and hard working woman I know. She knows her stuff!! We can all learn a lot from her, and very lucky to have her at WMI." Li Jackson

Not pictured.

1) Alejandra López Valles, Human Resources Analyst.

2) Affiliated with WMI since September 2017 and got assigned to the Nogales, Mexico office in 2018, that would make 2 years, 4 months.

3) As my position is related to the human resources, being assigned to a company of this nature has been the best that has happened to me. I have worked for construction companies before, and I have always been amazed and inspired by the industry.

4) What I love about the industry: First of all, WMI has very strong values that make you easily fall in love with the product. After 5 years as Human Resources in the manufacturing industry, I have seen a lot of different products and processes, micromanufacturing, metal alloys, etc...and I have learned a lot. To introduce the architectural work of WMI to Mexico has been quite a journey, and possibly one of the best coincidences I have had in my work life. Because of the future possibilities of the industry, it makes me excited to be a part of it. The people in this profession are very skilled and determined to always learn new things. It is a beautiful experience to observe the incredible creations, and seeing how a flat piece of material or a bunch of metal pieces can become a useful commodity for human beings. That is what is inspiring in all of this.

5) I would advice women to make sure you always do what you love. Look for a place to work that really makes you happy, and choose a profession that will teach you lessons everyday.

The fulfilling emotion of leaving your house in the mornings to look forward to whatever is awaiting for you that day, as well as sharing a space with people that you genuinely admire...all of that, makes it worthwhile.

6) Fun tidbits: I can be really tough and independent for activities that are commonly designated to men but I am also as sensitive as a small child. Animal lover. Specially dogs and insects. Proud of my Sonoran roots.

Western Millwork is an AWI and WI Premium Grade certified manufacturer and installer of Custom Architectural Millwork and Commercial Interior Elements. Since 1980, we have produced architectural woodwork and casework of the highest quality for contractors and architects throughout the Southwest.

Contact us for more information at (602) 233-1921

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