Parker women entrepreneurs take care of business

Local women set up shop in male-dominated fields

Posted 4/26/16

Bobbie Bergman takes pride in proving the boys wrong.

“Most men are amazed at what me and the girls can do,” she said. When a former tenant trashes a home and leaves the property’s owner in shock, Bergman, owner of Bobbie’s Property …

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Parker women entrepreneurs take care of business

Local women set up shop in male-dominated fields

Posted

Bobbie Bergman takes pride in proving the boys wrong.

“Most men are amazed at what me and the girls can do,” she said. When a former tenant trashes a home and leaves the property’s owner in shock, Bergman, owner of Bobbie’s Property Relief, and her “girls” come in and take care of business.

“I can still see the cute, amazing place” under the mess, Bergman said. “Usually, we get it all cleaned out in one day and have it back on the market the next day.”

The company evolved from simply renting out properties to restoring them for others. Bergman officially started the business in 2013, though she and her team had been doing it unofficially for years. She employs four women full-time and has up to seven women working for her on any given day.

Bergman is one of a growing number of female entrepreneurs in traditionally male-dominated businesses. Though times have changed and the equal rights movement has made great strides in the workforce, Bergman and other women business owners in Parker have nonetheless faced challenges their male counterparts haven’t.

Proving they can do the job

Sometimes, Bergman said, she has to persuade potential clients, male and female, that she is capable of doing the physically demanding work. It can be difficult to convince homeowners that a 5-foot-6 woman can move railroad ties.

Dr. Tara Breske knows exactly what Bergman means.

Breske and business partner Dr. Anna Petersen own 100% Chiropractic. But before moving to Parker, Breske worked at a clinic in Atlanta where she was sometimes overlooked. Patients would wait to see a male doctor, she said, even when she was available, and patients called her “Miss,” not “Doctor.” Like Bergman, Breske said clients warmed up to her when they saw her results.

“Once you build that trust with a patient, once you’ve adjusted them a few times… then it’s fine. It’s just the initial concept or mindset behind it,” she said. “Every once in awhile a patient would say `well he gets more pops than you do.’ I just explained to them the science behind it that every time you get adjusted you’re not going to hear that noise.”

Petersen added that two sides to the gender subject exist in her line of work.

“I’ve seen it go both ways,” she said. “I’ve had male patients who think I’m not strong enough or capable enoug. But after seeing us that’s really the only kind (of doctor) they wanted after that, because of the level of care and the attention to detail.”

A unique perspective

Sarah Vowell gets her share of skeptical comments, but said being a woman also gives her a unique perspective. The principal owner of Christian Brothers Automotive, Vowell hears comments from customers who are surprised that she, not her husband, is the garage’s owner.

“It shocks them that I’m the owner of the business,” she said. “I guess they think I’m just hired to help out, just getting water and shuttling customers.”

Right or wrong, girls aren’t traditionally raised to get under the hood, and many women, and men, feel uncomfortable trusting a stranger with confusing, expensive repairs.

“I can relate to the fear that women have in the automotive industry… and I’d like to bring some trust to that,” she said. “You can feel better knowing that I understand.”

Vowell gives her husband and technicians full credit for handling the mechanical side of the business while she balances the books. She also said the community in Parker deserves recognition for the business’ success.

Vowell, Bergman and Petersen belong to the Women’s Forum, a networking group with the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce. And Vowell said the group represents the helpful attitude she has experienced in the town.

“This town is phenomenal,” she said, “just how supportive and welcoming this community is.”

Adversity a powerful motivator

Petersen agreed, adding that the Women’s Forum built her confidence, especially when she realized female entrepreneurs don’t necessarily wear suits and high heels. She said the “you be you” mentality of the group is reassuring while still driving the group’s members to excel.

“I think women have the mentality that we want to get in, get the job done and get back home,” Bergman said. “Women are very good at multitasking.”

If her booming business is any indication, Bergman knows what she’s talking about.

Everyone, male and female, faces adversity in life and that can be a powerful motivator, Breske said. In the end, trusting yourself is more important than gender.

“Be confident in yourself and your message,” she said. “Just be confident in your skills and what you have to offer, and know that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. If you know you’re stuff, it’s going to get you far.”

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