WOFB: Succeed by out-hustling the competition

work smartBy Rae Anne Cordickmy family owned a business where I first learned the basics of good fiscal policy and great customer service. After our business was sold, I was eventually hired by a past customer who happened to be the senior vice president of a national floor covering distributor. He hired me as his assistant.

I worked hard and worked smart and was promoted as the first female business manager within the corporation. A few years passed and I gained experience in the business, and I learned what it was like being the only female working with male counterparts.

In [short order,] I was promoted to the position of vice president, ahead of several males who assumed it would be their promotion—certainly before a woman. I must say that I never played the female card but rather ensured that I fit in, gained respect, didn’t rock the boat and quietly rose up the ladder. However, as this was a family-owned business I soon recognized that I could go no higher in the company.

An opportunity came my way to join a manufacturer in the flooring industry. It was there that I became a shareholder and was encouraged to redesign and invent some exciting new products. The first initiative was the production and marketing of a unique, high-end carpet cushion product made from recycled tires, which was timely, high performance and very successful.

Next, after recognizing that carpets were treated for stain only, it became apparent that the odor that resulted from spills, (eg, pet urine), was not being addressed. Voilá—an odor-controlling technology was invented, patented, co-branded with a highly recognizable odor brand and launched by the largest manufacturer of flooring products in the US

Picture me: a female from Canada presenting this innovation to the senior executive level when the owner looked around the room of males and said, “Why didn’t you guys think of this?” I recall being both thrilled and nervous at this comment. I must say that where some supported me; others who had great influence made it extremely difficult to succeed. Regardless, the program was successful.

As it turned out, I was ahead of the times. I planted the seed for this solution to a common household problem that only women understand. For that I am happy and proud.

The bottom line is: I always worked hard and worked smart. As a result, successes came early and they were numerous and timely. Trendsetting, environmentally friendly recycled products were developed long before it became fashionable to do so and still flourish today.

Rae Anne Cordick’s career in the flooring industry, which spanned more than 45 years, encompassed sales and marketing, manufacturing, distribution and technology roles. She is currently retired.

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