Show what you know to earn respect Email
Written by Becky Garber   
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 04:00 AM

Betsy WagnerBetsy Wagner, Wagner Equipment Co., Aurora, walks through her days in an industry that is still very much a man’s world. It is rare to see women in the construction industry since women only comprise 8 to 10 percent of the workforce.

In her role as Sales Development Manager, Wagner must fit in and get along with the men on her own team plus those who are customers and potential customers. “It takes product knowledge and hard work to command respect—and being able to talk the industry language is part of it,” she says.

The company was started by Betsy’s father in 1976. Though she grew up in and around the business, Wagner pursued other career paths until her father asked her about seven years ago to consider joining the family business. At that time, she had a successful career selling real estate in Boston, but knew, “Whether it was selling real estate or selling tractors, sales is something I knew I was good at.”

Though in familiar territory, entering the family business was still intimidating. Some of the best employees Wagner says, “are people I’ve known my whole life.” No longer the boss’s little girl, Wagner knew she needed to pay her dues as an employee and earn respect in her own right. And she admits to being “very nervous.”

“The most important thing I did was reach out to another woman who was vice president of a Caterpillar dealership on the East Coast. I asked her every hard question I could think of!” says Wagner. That mentor shared experiences including hard times she survived along her own career path and how she earned respect from her male peers. She even gave Wagner a checklist of dos and don’ts for getting along in the construction world. “She helped me take that leap of faith—pushed me over the edge to just do it!”

When it comes to discrimination or sexual harassment, Wagner says within their company, “It’s not something we deal with a lot.” The company has a low tolerance and people who cross the line are let go.

When conversations start to go off track, Wagner has strategies. For example, she will say, “I need you to just call me Betsy and not call me honey, okay?” Being feisty back to people helps them know they need to leave you alone. She also says in her situation, having a team of brothers and brother-like men around her has also helped.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
DOL establishes Office of Compliance Initiatives
Revised proposed rule on overtime expected in October
Flower trials "best of" winners announced
Skills-based learning gives kids another chance