(Reprinted with permission)
Candace Friedman – President of Acme Safety & Supply Corp. was introduced to construction in 1981 while she was working for a real estate appraiser. Noticing how construction in certain areas affected housing costs, she became fascinated with various aspects of the construction industry. In 1981, she went to work for Callahan Brothers as an expeditor and estimator. In 1984, she left the company and over the next several years worked for various companies where she perfected her skills in estimating, office management and human resources.
Candace realized early on that being a woman, in basically a male oriented industry would be a challenge. Candace answered the challenge by being organized, thorough, and dependable. She became the ‘go to person’ for the companies she worked for. But she would soon find out that sometimes that wasn’t enough, if you were a woman. One of the companies she worked for went through an ownership change. Candace was told in a round-about-way that the new owners didn’t want any women on the management team. She had always given 110% on the job and she took it as a slap in the face that she wouldn’t be considered as management anymore because of her gender. But Candace turned the negative experience into a positive one.
After much thought and encouragement from others in the industry, she decided to strike out on her own and start her own business. She went to a bank to get a business loan. At first even the banks wanted to speak to her husband because they couldn’t believe that a woman was embarking on a construction related business. Eventually, she got the financing together and opened up her business. She started Acme Safety & Supply Company in April 1999. Despite repeated efforts to discourage her in business, she held her head high and rose above the adversity.
One of the first things Candace did as a business owner was to become involved in several industry associations. The networking and interaction with those in the construction community helped Candace understand the industry. Her company grew and after a few years in business they were able to move to a larger facility. In 2003, Acme Safety and Supply Corp. was recognized as “Most Valuable Vendor” for Super Bowl 2003. Candace and the crew were awarded Super Bowl jackets and hats and a memory they will never forget. Candace has served as the San Diego Chapter President of the National Association of Women In Construction in 2002. She supported the efforts of the association to educate and support women in construction and she is an excellent example of a woman business owner. Refusing to allow discrimination to discourage her or make her bitter she keeps a positive attitude.
Candace interacts with both men and women in the industry and feels that for the most part, men in the industry have been supportive. She always gives people the benefit of a doubt before making any kind of judgments about them. She gives all women the advice that “ when an obstacle gets in your way, figure out another way around it.”
Candace is also a valued board member of the Associated General Contractors, receiving the coveted award for “Affiliate Member of the Year” in 2003. She also belongs to the Associated Builders and Contractors and supports the efforts of the industry through networking events and serving on several industry committees. Candace has two adopted children one with special needs. With the support and encouragement of her family, she manages to juggle career and home. All you have to do is spend five minutes around Candace to realize how much she cherishes her family.
Candace also considers her employees family. She tries to make it a fun place to work. She appreciates the commitment and loyalty her employees show her and she tries to reward those efforts whenever she can. Candace Friedman is a great example of determination and success. Her continued support of the industry has gained her much recognition as the “Go To Person of Construction!” Candace, Contractor News and Views congratulates you on your recent AGC award as “Affiliate of the Year.” You deserve it!