Lillie Knox Applications are open now through July 12! Click here to apply.
" WBCS has provided a level playing field for women business owners, that in my experience, is unparalleled." - Renee Gilmore
Renee Gilmore is the President of a women-owned and operated firefighter company, Firemans Paving Contractors. Located in Fort Worth, the company proudly services the DFW area and has been WBCS certified for 3 years. Renee serves on our Parade of Stars Gala Committee and was also a 2018 Lillie Knox Recipient. Below she discusses how certification and the Lillie Knox Investment Award has helped her business grow.
What was the inspiration for your business, and what challenges have you seen as part of a traditionally male – dominated industry?
Many Firefighters have side businesses, and I was initially inspired to make a difference in the construction industry by my husband who grew up helping his dad prior to becoming a Firefighter. My company started as a side business offering services from a “Contractor You Can Trust” to help make ends meet raising a family. It has since evolved into the woman-owned entity it is today. We launched Firemans Paving & Supplies, LLC DBA Firemans Paving Contractors in 2014, and became WBE certified in 2016.
A challenge I have experienced as a woman working in construction is that others don’t always take me seriously, and I have had to learn to stand firm. I gain strength by the people I surround myself with, and a team that strives to live each and every day through our Code of Honor values system.
In 2018, you won a Lillie Knox Investment Award. How has this helped your business, and how did you utilize the money?
It has been such an amazing honor to be a recipient of the Lillie Knox Investment Award! The award itself helped to improve team moral and gave me the courage to make the investment needed to grow the business. The money was used to purchase equipment that has helped us double our production while operating more efficiently and maintaining quality and service. It has created a domino effect - we are now budgeting for a bigger trailer to transport the new equipment, which will lead to a bigger truck, and soon we will be able to hire additional employees as we expand and adapt.
What advice would you give a WBE considering applying for the Lillie Knox award this year?
If you are wanting to grow your business, don’t overthink it, just do it! What do you have to lose? Even if you aren’t selected this year, completing the paperwork will help you solidify your vision, and allow you to work ‘on’ the business.
How did you make the most of your WBENC certification in your first year of membership?
I was advised by a fellow WBE member who I greatly respected to volunteer. I reached out to the WBCS staff and they were able to place me on the Parade of Stars Gala committee. I also hit the pavement running by attending and actively participating in every WBCS Event I possibly could, even sponsoring and co-sponsoring a couple of after-hours events. I believe all of these actions helped pave the way to receiving WBE Rising Star, Advocate of the Year and WBE of the Year nominations. The business has gained momentum from the great exposure, but it is also the relationships that I have made with fellow WBEs, WBCS staff and Corporate Sponsors with one-on-one meetings, coffee appointments and lunches outside the WBCS events, that I greatly value.
How has being a member of WBCS allowed you to connect and work with other WBEs?
Prior to being a member of WBCS, I had been working way too hard! As a member of WBCS – you may be in business for yourself, but you are definitely not by yourself. I cannot think of one WBE member with a business complimentary to mine that I reached out to for help or advice that said no. It may have taken me a few tries to connect, but the council has provided a level playing field for women business owners, that in my experience, is unparalleled; I think it is in our nature to want to help each other!