This week, we got in touch with Francine Camardella of FC Cornerstone to find out what it’s like owning a business in the male dominated field of construction. Along the way, we learned about some of her favorite projects, how she thinks women have a leg up, and what some of her favorite parts of remodeling a home are.
So, how long have you been in construction?
I have owned my own business since 2010. I previously worked for a contractor for a few years before that.
How did you get into construction?
My father was a contractor, so it has always been something that I wanted to do. When I was a child, I would follow him around and ask questions on what he was doing.
You know your way around different tools?
I can wield a hammer, use a drill, screwdriver, pliers, saw, hang wallpaper and paint. Basically I can fix most simple repairs from hanging drapery and wallpaper, fixing leaks, repair drywall.
What did you like working on the most when you were a kid/teen?
I have always had a love for art, architecture and old furniture. I would paint or refinish furniture. I took drafting and shop in high school.
Did you stay in construction after school?
I didn’t start out in construction. I went to college and have a degree in accounting. My first business was a garden center/nursery.
How did you start your own business?
I studied for the Home Improvement test and passed. I then took courses in Lead Abatement and OSHA safety courses.
What is it like being a woman business owner in a male dominated field?
It is not difficult once you get passed the initial introductions. At first most clients think my foreman is the owner of the company but once they realize that I am the owner, they have a certain respect that a woman would venture into a male dominated field.
Are there advantages to being a woman when working with men?
I do think there is. Women process ideas differently and bring that to the table. As a woman, when doing a kitchen or bath, I know the functionality of the inner workings and can incorporate that into the design. I also have a great crew.
Can you tell us a bit more about being a certified MWBE (Woman-owned business enterprise)?
A woman owned/minority owned business sometimes have more opportunities to bid on jobs because there is a quota that needs to be filled when bidding on government projects. It doesn’t come into decisions when working with homeowners.
What’s your favorite part of remodeling a home?
The best part for me is when a customer sees the finished product, whether it is a kitchen, bathroom or something as simple as a new paint color.
Are there commercial projects you really like?
I did an office build out a few years ago from start to completion. It came out beautifully and it was wonderful to work with the owner.
What have been some of your favorite in Westchester?
My favorite was two apartment renovations in New Rochelle. They both were total renovations and they came out beautifully.