Compiled by Hillary HaenesPhotos by Casey Christie
Donna Amparano says the roofing business chose her. "I wanted a business where I had no limits to what I could make," Amparano said. "Roofing picked me. I didn't pick this path, but I really liked it."
Amparano, 49, has been in this field since 1995. This mother of five and grandmother of four still operates Amparano Roofing despite a major setback. Nine years ago, she lost one of her legs.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day starts with phone calls before I even leave the house. Sometimes I'm stressed before I make it to the first job site. I have multiple jobs at a time, and I visit up to 20 sites a day. There are times when I'm on a roof, and my notes are written up and down my arms. Most days my truck's dash substitutes as an office. I run household errands between jobs, sometimes having to pick up grandkids from school. I go home and do my bids and billing in my pajamas while cooking dinner. I usually take the trucks and trailers to the dump on weekends. Vacations are hard because no matter how good I plan a few days to myself, my phone always rings, something goes wrong, or it rains.
What's it like working in what is typically a male-dominated industry?
When I was hired by a local roofing company, the owner said, "Let's give it a week, and we'll talk about you staying." He didn't think I could do it. We never had the talk, and I stayed working for him for eight years before going on my own. People will call and ask to speak to my husband, but I don't have one! Sometimes when I have to meet with homeowners, they are shocked to see me. When I went to the Small Business Association, they advised me to pick another career.
What does owning this kind of business entail?
I get most of my jobs from referrals from previous customers and realtors. I do not advertise. I stay busy year-round.
I have to plan ahead to stay on top of things and budget for equipment failures and non-payments on jobs. I have to stay ahead of the roofers to get materials on the jobs and schedule all of the new construction. You have to have the next job ready to go to on the days workers are waiting for an inspection or loaded by a supplier. If you haven't planned well, workers are at home not working.
What has been the most interesting project you've worked on?
The most interesting job was at Canyon Hills Assembly of God. It is a huge church with EnergyCAP roofing material. The reflective white roofing was blinding, like standing on snow. We had to wear sunglasses.
What are some obstacles you have had to overcome?
In 2004, I was hit by a semi-truck and broke my back, pelvis and leg. I was told I was finished and was given a wheelchair, prosthetic leg and sent home. I was so bored that I did crafts for a couple months and was going crazy. I had kids in college and a home they didn't want to give up. I wasn't about to change the way we lived. I called everyone I had been working for to find work. Burlington Homes was the only one who called me back to work. The rest didn't want me. Anyway, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to handle it. Piece of cake ... I'm doing it.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy being outside. I like being up high on a roof. I love my jobs being in different places, with different customers. I have met some very nice people.
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