WomenVenture client, Wendy Sullivan, is the owner of Wenrich PD Construction.
“I could tell you more about fencing than anyone would want to know!” says Wendy Sullivan, founder of Wenrich PD Construction. After years buying and renting residential properties, getting her general contractor’s license, and renovating homes, Wendy founded her construction company with a focus on hiring minorities and women built into its foundation.
While working in the corporate sector, Wendy began buying real estate and ended up renting out a total of forty-seven properties, to Section 8 qualifying renters. Then, she got her contracting license and started rehabbing these properties, hiring plumbers and carpenters to make the changes needed. “Then, I was naïve enough and confident enough to decide I would go into commercial contracting.” After learning and training more, she knew she needed a niche—and someone suggested she do fences.
Like so many WomenVenture clients, when Wendy started out, she was filling every role in her business at once. “I was the only person in the office, so I did the estimating, the billing, the collections, the reports. I also was out in the field to start the crew and tell them what they needed to do.” At the same time, she stayed determined to fulfill her mission to hire purposefully, providing jobs for people who might have been overlooked.
“I hire people who may need a second chance in life: people who’ve had bumps in the road and who might be turned away at other places. I allow people opportunities for leadership. There are only two women construction superintendents in the Twin Cities area, only one person of color. I’m currently in the process of hiring one Black woman and one Hispanic woman and I’m going to help put them through the process to become superintendents. They’re young women and they’re going to be rock stars.”
People in similar financial situations to her former tenants, renting under Section 8 and unable to find stable employment can go to Wenrich Construction and get a job that pays $30/hr., receive a pension and benefits. “Some of the guys who have been with me since I started are buying their first homes now.”
Wendy found herself looking to learn more about how to run and grow her business. She came to WomenVenture first to take Accelerating Success, then ScaleUp. She found a community: “to be with a group of women entrepreneurs, whether you’re making jewelry, running a bakery or constructing fences, like me. Just hearing their stories and to know you’re not the only one struggling made all the difference.”
“Those classes gave me the courage to face my financial obstacles head on and work through them.” In addition, she credits her WomenVenture class with helping her to take down fences she had in her mind about sharing and the power of creating community. “There are only nine ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery) women commercial contractors in the state and now we meet up every Friday. I think I’m much more open to groups like this and collaboration since taking classes at WomenVenture. They put me in a place where I felt secure enough to share and not worry about how I’m going to look.”