In celebration of Women’s History Month, we interviewed four inspirational female leaders in the commercial and residential garage door industry. During the whole month of March, you can read about how these strong women have challenged the status quo and found success in their careers.
To kick off this series, we interviewed Jennifer Kuhn.
Jennifer is the president of Hamburg Overhead Door, a New York-based, family-owned commercial and residential garage door company. She is the chair of the Scholarship and Graduation committee for the Academy of Finance at Hamburg High School. Jennifer also serves as a member of the Buffalo Niagra Builders Association and the Home Improvement Council.
I knew from the age of 14 that I wanted to run the family business. I explored business in high school by joining clubs and taking business-related classes.
After high school, I graduated from the University of Colorado where I studied human resources management and economics. I remained in Colorado for four years. During that time, I had a position in the Management Training Program (MTP) at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, their flagship talent management program.
One Saturday morning in 2004, my Dad, Jeff Kuhn, called and asked if I would return home to New York. He wanted me to join the family business. I accepted. In November 2020, my brother and I purchased Hamburg Overhead Door from our parents.
It’s rare to encounter females in this industry. When you find ones that shine bright, it’s best that you learn from them.
I tend to surround myself with friends that are strong female leaders. Fortunately, I had the honor of having role models and mentors to look up to during my tenure at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. These powerful women showed me how to climb the corporate ladder through hard work and tenacity.
I’m really inspired by Clopay Corporation’s former VP of Marketing Pat Lohse, and president of Broten Garage Door Sales Kriste LaMay. These women are brilliant examples of leadership and success in the garage door industry.
At trade shows a customer would come up to our booth to ask a question. Instead of approaching me, they would often gravitate toward the male supplier representative. In those moments I chose to not get discouraged and to stand strong. I answered customers’ questions, showing them that I was intelligent, knowledgeable, and capable. As women in an industry largely occupied by men, you need to be resilient. You have to be confident in your knowledge of your products and your industry.
The garage door industry can be very rewarding for women. On the residential side of the business, our target customers are largely female, and they often feel more comfortable collaborating with other females. On the commercial side, more women are entering the field of project estimating, project management, and becoming business owners.
I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to bring together a team of women. This talented group now leads project estimating and management for Hamburg Overhead Door. They know the commercial garage door field well and our clients love working with them.
Women heavily influence the residential garage door market, and it makes sense for us to work together. We bring valuable skills and perspectives to the table. On the commercial side, women are entering the construction field and can install products. Whether it’s new product development, technology, marketing, or running a business- it’s important to include women in our industry so that it continues to grow.
I have always felt that women should build each other up, and not compete against one another.
As a member of women-only groups geared toward entrepreneurs, construction, and the garage door industry, I’ve learned the value of sharing our stories.
I think it’s important to give women a formal and inclusive space to grow and collaborate. The garage door industry is filled with hard-working and influential women, and together, we can keep improving our industry.