Leading the Local Building Industry – Women with the tools to get the job done

0025In addition to granite countertops and mahogany hardwood floors, there’s another trend in the building industry: women as leaders. Two local women are leading the Rochester Area Builders, Southeastern Minnesota’s professional organization for the building industry.

Jennifer Maass

In addition to working as a designer with Kitchen Concepts of Rochester, Jennifer Maass is also the 2012 president of Rochester Area Builders, Inc. (RAB).

    Seventeen years ago, Jennifer began working with her father at Kitchen Concepts, expecting it to be for only a short time. “When I joined my dad, Bruce Selle, he had just joined RAB and hadn’t really done anything with the organization other than participating in the Home Show,” she said.

    “I was slowly active with the group, but I think the RAB staff sensed I would do more. When I was asked to be on the RAB Board for the first time I was hooked! RAB is an awesome organization.”

    She served on the RAB Board twice and was active with the Remodeler’s Council, a RAB division established in 1985 to represent remodeling contractors and related professionals.

    “We work for our members and for the community to build better businesses. We provide support and education to ensure our members know what’s happening in Minnesota (building industry).”

    Jennifer believes RAB promotes and encourages its members to be the best leaders and businesses they can be, while promoting Rochester through the building industry. “Over the years I’ve come to find out how much respect a company can gain from being an active member of RAB. I feel that RAB has us in their best interest.”

Jean DeWitz

Jennifer Maass works closely with RAB’s vice-president, Jean DeWitz.

    Jean is co-owner of DeWitz Home Builders, Inc. and is part of a Rochester tradition. “My company has been a member of RAB since 1965. My father started DeWitz Home Builders in 1957 and was very active with the area association. He was even president of RAB in 1987,” Jean recalled.

    “As my kids left home for college, I had more time to be involved with RAB. When we were building over 100 homes per year and the kids were active in school and sports it was sometimes hard to find the extra time. Now I find myself attending more and more builder functions and volunteering for committees. When asked to be a builder board member, the time seemed right. Soon after, I was asked to serve as vice president.”

Construction connections

Jean feels strongly that RAB will continue to be a prominent leader and supporter of the construction industry. “Not only does RAB help businesses and individuals in construction-related field to network with one another,” she started, “but RAB also helps members stay abreast of changes in the industry by offering continuing education classes to builder members on construction standards and code changes.”

    In addition, Jean said RAB’s membership is diverse. “At any given networking event you can chat with every person in the industry, from a loan officer … to an interior designer. The opportunities are limitless.”

    Jean sees RAB as a strong community organization with opportunities for personal gain as well. “Becoming an officer is an opportunity for me to let businesses know the importance of our association. In addition, being active in RAB is also an opportunity to grow my business by meeting new members. It is a win-win for everyone.”

Gina Depuydt is a published writer continually inspired by the power of community.