Karen Pollard-Josling combines family and career in construction industry

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STAFF WRITER
The GTA Construction Report Special Feature

Growing up in the family business, Karen Pollard-Josling learned from the ground up, working in the office and plant through her youth. Today she is president and CEO and the third generation behind Pollard Windows & Doors.

Though the company was started by her grandparents and father Reg, Pollard- Josling says her mother always encouraged her to do what she wanted, even if that meant entering the male dominated construction industry.

During her teenage years she worked summers in Pollard’s office or plant. Later, Pollard-Josling earned a business degree in marketing, gained some work experience with a market research firm and 26 years ago, formally joined the company’s marketing department.

She says early on her father wondered whether it would be possible to raise a family and have a career in the often demanding industry, but eventually she proved both were possible.

Her experiences, she says, were different than that of her male colleagues. “I did not have a wife at home to hold down the fort. I had to do that (maintain the home) while doing my best at work as well.”

She says sometimes others in the industry think that as a woman she is softer and can be pushed around but she remains steadfast in the company’s values and ethics and holds her ground.

While she has seen improvement through the years, she says she still believes some people don’t take women in construction seriously.

“Women bring something different to the industry. Who knows better how to ‘make a house a home’ than a woman? Every house we are involved with is a home for someone and we are privileged to be part of that process.”

She says she doesn’t see as many women as she would like in the business. Her peers, however, are passionate about their work, and are a pleasure to have on projects.

Despite the challenges, Pollard-Josling says she loves the variety in her job and meeting people who really care about the product they are creating.

“I think our success as a manufacturer in the window and door industry for 68 years and being 100 per cent Canadian owned and operated is something to be very proud of,” she says. “For me personally, just being part of the direction of the future with an excellent executive team is what I call success.”

Pollard-Josling says she recommends this industry as a great option for employment for women. In fact, her oldest daughter has joined the company and is learning the business. “There is no reason why women cannot or should not be an integral part of the construction industry.”

At least a third of Pollard Windows & Doors’ employees are women, both in the office and in the manufacturing plant. “We encourage women to apply for non-traditional positions and we hope to increase their representation in the sales area and in other parts of the company as well.”

As she did, and as her daughter will, Pollard-Josling reco1mmends young people try to get to know the industry from every aspect so they truly understand what they are involved with. “Visit sites, visit model homes and ask consumers what they want and expect from a home they will purchase.”

Besides her active role within Pollard Windows & Doors, she also organizes a yearly charity golf tournament in her late son Curtis Josling’s name to provide funding for the Flamborough Food Bank and the SADS Sudden Arrhythmic Death Foundation.

For more information about Pollard Windows and Doors, visit http://www.pollardwindows. com.

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