Women in Remodeling

NARI Celebrates Women in Construction Week with a Focus on Our Own Remodeling Industry Trailblazers

This year, we celebrate four women whose stories embody the knowledge, drive and determination of NARI members to effect change and create a more diverse workforce.

“We’re all here to do the same job,” Melissa Andrekus says of her career as an electrical foreman in a male-dominated industry. Learn more about Melissa, on site at the new NARI headquarters.

Ask Allie Berenyi, CLC,  what she enjoys most about being in the construction and remodeling industry and she’ll tell you it’s the unique opportunity to be hands-on and watch a project take shape in a real, tangible way.
Today, Allie applies her 27 years of industry experience as an instructor of construction & remodeling at Madison Area Technical College, located in Wisconsin’s state capital. Since 2005, she has taught a variety of classes to thousands of budding contractors and remodelers. Today, women represent 20% of the student population where 15 years ago, the student population was predominately male. She is also seeing people mid-career looking for a change. Whether their corporate jobs, such as computer programming, wasn’t rewarding, or people who work with their hands, including farming and art, are now turning to the trades.
She currently teaches framing and exterior finishes, estimating, building science, commercial construction and a course on remodeling, which she still finds time to do outside of work.
Allie ensures her students get real-world experience, including participating in an actual home build and working on framing and refinishing projects. According to Allie, the reason so many women of all ages are turning to construction is because they want to get out from behind a desk and do something that’s truly rewarding. As someone who did the same thing early in her career, Allie understands completely.
Allie is also an advocate for women in the industry, often volunteering her time and speaking on workforce development issues.
As a young girl growing up on a busy Midwestern farm, Judy Transue, CR, CRPM, learned the value of hard work and on-the-job problem solving. Both served her well in her previous role as an IT professional. And today, after 15 years in the remodeling industry, Judy relies on her ability to apply logic, persistence and project management skills for clients of CHC Design-Build, the Kansas City-based firm she co-owns with her husband, Kevin.

While Kevin focuses on project design and custom cabinetry, Judy manages the overall business—selling projects, collaborating with clients, handling operations. According to Judy, much of her success stems from her interest in continuous education. Through NARI, she connected the dots of her professional experience with valuable certifications. She credits education as a key building block in her career.

This well-rounded background serves Judy well in a male-driven business. She says that while some male counterparts occasionally mistake her for a designer, it’s actually the female homeowners who are surprised by her role as a remodeler; as this is the first time they have seen a women in this position. But, as a Certified Remodeler with strong credentials, Judy proves every day that women can thrive as leaders in this dynamic industry.
As President of the NARI Kansas City chapter, Judy is committed to serving her local remodeling community and being an advocate for small business owners.
Jess Cannizzaro, CRPM, UDCP, earned both a Business undergraduate degree and an MBA. She’s a Milwaukee-area small business owner and manages 14 employees. She’s also in a career she truly loves. If this sounds like a familiar success story, it may be surprising to learn that Jess is a licensed plumber.
Her path began with an apprenticeship in her father’s business. As she studied to earn her degrees, Jess also worked as a plumber. After five years (and despite a warning from her concerned father), she started her very own business, Milestone Plumbing, just before her 30th birthday. Jess relied on her business school skills and a loan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). After being denied by banks, WWBIC gave Jess her first loan because they believed in her talents and business vision ( they even became her first customer).

According to Jess, building a customer base in a male-dominated industry required her to work around the clock, never turn away business, and even hope that “Jess” could be presumed to be a man’s name with new prospects. Nevertheless, her zest for learning, ability to advocate for herself and commitment to protecting the public health have paid off.
Jess has made a commitment to workforce development and to help combat the shortage of plumbers by sponsoring apprentices. This year, Milestone Plumbing celebrates nine years in business. Jess continues to set new milestones for herself, including reinvesting in her business, employee training and speaking on workforce development topics.