WHITINSVILLE, Mass. — Koopman Lumber, a family-owned and -operated business with 11 locations in Massachusetts, held a special Women’s Event at the Clarke Showroom in Milford to recognize the unique talents that women bring to its workforce, talk about empowerment and growth within the industry and provide an opportunity to build connections. Approximately 70 women attended the evening event for the 2023 LBM Journal Dealer of the Year.
“Women make up about 18% of our workforce at Koopman,” said Denise Brookhouse, CFO, granddaughter of company founder Peter Koopman. “Ours is still a male-dominated industry, but we wanted to show our appreciation for the expertise women bring to the table while encouraging and empowering them to grow in their skills and roles.”
Sarah Thomas, brand and engagement manager and the fourth generation of Koopmans to join the family business, talked about her inspiration for holding the event. “The story of the beginning of Koopman Lumber is really a story of hidden female empowerment,” she said. “My great-grandfather, Peter Koopman, started our company in 1939. He was a builder and started stockpiling materials in his garage and then selling them to other builders.”
Thomas continued, “But there is so much more to that story. Peter was out on job sites every day. When builders came to purchase materials, it was his wife, my great-grandmother Hendrika, who was home raising their five children, who would answer the bell, go out to the garage and sell the materials. We like to think of her as our first store manager, salesperson and inventory specialist.”
The evening included a cocktail hour, dinner and cooking demonstration by Clarke chefs, and a panel discussion featuring women in leadership positions within the construction industry. Moderated by Alex Carlton, executive coach and advisor with Acumentri Leadership, the panel included Nikki Bach, founder of Bach Builders; Michelle Lemoi, CEO and founder of Elevate – Women In Construction; Terrie McDaniel, general manager, Hancock Lumber Company; and Debra Torres, chief of human resources at North Atlantic Corp.
“Our panelists were so open about sharing their experiences, the challenges they’ve faced and the wisdom they gained over their careers,” said Brookhouse. “Engagement was wonderful, with lots of laughs and advice shared by all.”
Thomas noted, “We wanted to empower women to create meaningful careers in the LBM [lumber and building materials] industry, which is traditionally male dominated. There is a lot of opportunity at Koopman Lumber and in this industry.”
Koopman Lumber’s 11 Massachusetts locations include three full-line lumber, hardware, paint, lawn and garden stores in Whitinsville, Uxbridge and North Grafton; one lumber, hardware, paint and kitchen design center in Sharon; a full-service paint store in Milford; lumber yards and kitchen design centers in Hudson, Andover, Fairhaven and Indian Orchard; and distribution centers in Uxbridge and Sutton.