Ever known a woman who drives a forklift?
Neither has Melinda Barbaglia. She has yet to meet one, even though she and her sister sell, service and stock replacement parts for forklift trucks.
“They didn’t teach Forklift 101 at Webster University,” said Barbaglia, who holds a graduate degree in marketing from the school.
A recent Post-Dispatch story that detailed how other cities are outpacing St. Louis in the growth of businesses owned by women struck a chord, for obvious reasons, with Barbaglia. She agrees that female entrepreneurs have been held back by a shortage of support from state and local governmental interests. And she can also make an argument that, to a lesser degree, a male-dominated business community is slow to lose its grip.
At the same time, Barbaglia, her sister Teresa Pippen and mother, Linda, can make a pretty strong case for the ability of a business owned and operated by women to flourish in a good ol’ boy network.
Of the two sisters, Melinda was the one without a single intention of joining C&B Lift Truck Service — the company their father, Charlie, started from scratch 36 years ago.
Degree in hand, Melinda was about to launch a career in pharmaceutical sales when her father suggested he could use an extra hand at C&B.
She reported to work soon after and has been there ever since.
Charlie Barbaglia ran C&B up till the day he and the family celebrated his 60th birthday in 2005.
“He must have thought it was a retirement party, because he never came back to work,” laughs Linda Barbaglia.
“So, I said, ‘I guess we’re on our own, girls.’”
Fortunately, Melinda and Teresa were already immersed in the business.
Melinda, the “take charge” extrovert, applied her education by working the sales and marketing end.
To compensate for the absence of Forklift 101 in the Webster course catalog, Melinda indoctrinated herself in the nuances of pneumatic tires, monotrol transmissions and liquid petroleum to the point that she’s qualified to serve as an instructor in the mandatory safety courses OSHA demands of forklift operators.
Teresa, an introvert with a communications degree from Maryville University, was more than happy to handle bookkeeping and the office side of the business.
C&B’s seven other employees (including service manager Charlie Pippen, the service manager) are all men.
The Barbaglias admit that running a business in what remains a man’s world is not always easy.
For starters, not to stereotype, neither sister plays golf.
As for the other topic that breaks the ice among men — such as sports — the lifelong St. Louisans by necessity can be semi-conversant should the conversation turn to the fortunes of the Cardinals, Blues or Rams. But don’t expect them to tell you how many Detroit Tigers Bob Gibson struck out in the 1968 World Series. The vast majority of the company’s male clients “take their jobs very seriously,” Melinda said.
“They just want their forklift fixed,” Teresa added.
But some of them can be flirtatious, Melinda said.
A lot of years remain before the sisters retire. Melinda is 42 and Teresa is 36.
Still, looking ahead as she cradled Melinda’s 3-month-old daughter Abigail, Linda Barbaglia is fairly sure the second generation of Barbaglias to run C&B Fork Lift Truck Service will be the last.
Linda says the business that has sustained her family for 36 years is fast moving toward the day that favors neither male nor female — when robots take the wheel.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I was offered an unpaid internship at a law firm but turned it down. If you can’t pay me $10 an hour, you don’t deserve to be in business. The job market makes me feel like stabbing myself in the face. - Adrienne Delibert, unemployed college graduate
Source: The New York Times
BY THE NUMBERS
37 percent of U.S. companies vet job candidates through social networking sites.
15 percent of U.S. employers prohibit the practice.
“… While my Facebook page is private, my friends do include plenty of people I’ve worked with or for, or might hope to work with or for in the future. I also take it as given that any potential future employer or reference would use all the available tools to check me out – including finding out who we know in common via social networks.
And I think the effects can be subtle: Future employer X calls colleague Y to ask about me; colleague Y checks Facebook to get the latest….and instead of a link to a story I’m proud of, or even a video I find funny, he finds a photo of me and my baby boy making snuggly faces.
Whether he’s consciously wondering when, if ever, I’m going back to work or how dedicated I’ll be when I get there, I’ll never know. But I’d rather not wonder.” - Janet Paskin on a possible pitfall of TMI.
Source: The Wall Street Journal