Windsor female entrepreneur shatters gender norms in male-dominant industry
Published Thursday, March 5, 2020 5:27PM EST
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A Windsor woman’s roofing company is paving the way for females in a male-dominant industry.
A mother of two, grandmother of three and great-grandmother of one, Bonnie Bigras founded her roofing company in 2012 after working in construction retail sales for 25 years.
Her goal was to help her son find employment. However in 2014, her son’s decline in health would pull him away from the business, forcing her to make pivotal decision.
“Do I close it down or do I find some other means to keep it open?” Bigras says she asked herself.
That’s when she decided to team up with her long-time friend, Dennis Jee, to revamp the business; branding it DS60 Roofing and Siding.
“In the first three years of our business, we doubled sales every year,” says Bigras.
Bigras says they went from having one trailer and two trucks to a current fleet of 10 trucks and 60 trailers. Today, she has around 40 employees and have done completed thousands of projects in the throughout southwestern Ontario.
Her success in this traditionally male-dominated profession came with challenges in the beginning. She recalled the times where costumers would be shocked to see a female roofing contractor arrive on location instead of a male.
“It may take a year or so.” she said. “It’s scary at first. But you know what? You’ll get the respect.”
“Bonnie has the sensitivity of a woman, but an iron first,” says Jee. “A lot of things a man will miss she will pick up on.”
Bigras noticed a new normal emerge beyond own industry.
“Women are becoming plumbers, electricians, things that were never thought of before,” she says.
She hopes her business journey will encourage more women to find their freedom through entrepreneurship.
“I don’t care if you’re young or old. I’m a great-grandma…just do it,” says Bigras.
With files from CTV Windsor's Melanie Borrelli.