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Letitia Hanke-Ryzhkov got into the construction industry by accident. Alternative Roofing Solutions (ARS) and Sonoma/Napa/Marin Seamless Gutters are both proudly owned by Letitia Hanke-Ryzhkov the only minority, female roofing contractor in the North Bay. ‘I want to inspire women, especially black women that you can be whatever you want to be no matter what obstacles that may get in the way.’
She studied music in college and began as a starving musician. Later, she discovered that she needed a job so she began working with a roofing company over 17 years ago. Within eight years with the company she went from receptionist, office manager and manager to field supervisor.
She decided to seize the opportunity and become a part of the construction industry by getting her contractor’s license and started her own business in 2004. The construction industry is on the upswing and in this male-dominant industry it is hard for women to remain consistent in this business. We got a chance to catch up with Letitia to see how she does it.
You are in a male-dominant industry. What would you say is the secret to your success?
We are not like other construction companies. We treat every project as if it were our own homes. We are pleasant and courteous from the first phone call. We exercise great work ethics by showing up on time, cleaning up our construction debris, provide a quality product by installing problem free roofs and gutters, we are uniformed and we are available by phone 24/7. We are the “Alternative” in the industry. No job is too big or too small!
What is some advice do you have for those with an interest in the construction industry?
1. If you have a desire to be in the construction industry my best advice is to not be a salesperson.
2. Roofing and gutters is more than just selling a job; it’s an art form.
3. What we do is create art with our skills and vision. Learn to appreciate the happiness you are creating for the client and appreciate the smiles that come at the end of the job not just the “check”.
What future goals have you set for yourself within the near future?
I would like to open my painting and decorating business and get my general contractor’s license so that I can become a one-stop shop. It would be great to be able to offer home remodeling services under one company. This will also allow me to hire more employees and create job opportunities for qualified people.
How do you give back?
In 2012, I started the “Give Back to SAVE OUR SCHOOLS (SOS”) program where we donate 1% of the roofing and gutter replacement jobs to the school of our client’s choice. It doesn’t matter if the school is out of the country or out-of-state. All schools are hurting. I truly believe Sports, Music, and Art keeps kids out of trouble and they must stay in our schools.
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