Construction Company Owner Has More Than Two Decades Of Experience

By Susan Salisbury
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

Judith Schumacher, partner and majority owner of Schumacher Companies, a general contractor based in West Palm Beach, has worked in the construction industry for more than 20 years. Her first job in the business was running a builder’s association in Collier County.

She and her husband, David Schumacher, started the company in 2008.

“I do most of the pre-construction — whatever has to occur before the shovel hits the dirt,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher worked for another construction company, Anderson-Moore, for more than 10 years before starting to work at her own company earlier this year.

She is a founding member of a new organization called AEC (architecture, construction engineering) Trendsetters and is also a past president and founding member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Palm Beach/Treasure Coast.

Hometown: Scottdale, PA

Where you live now: West Palm Beach

About your company: Schumacher Companies is a general contractor. We do interior build-outs, renovations; and ground-up construction — commercial office, medical, retail, restaurant, light industrial. We also do residential renovation projects.

How your business has changed? I think construction is one of those industries that has been male dominated; and I would say that, for the most part, it still probably is. But it’s certainly not exclusive to men. I know many women who are in the AEC industries, from land planning to engineering to architecture and construction. All indications are that women are playing a more predominate role in our industry — certainly a notable change in our business.

First paying job and what you learned from it: My first paying job was as an assistant in a pathology lab, in a hospital. I learned how to draw blood and I assisted in some autopsies, learning that I wasn’t particularly squeamish!

First break in the business: As a result of being very philanthropic in my community and getting to know many business people, I was offered a position at the Chamber of Commerce. This “break” really started my career, as it led me to an executive director position with a construction organization.

Best business book you ever read: Probably Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Best piece of business advice you ever received: “Your word is your sword and your shield.” Basically, if you’re honest and integrity-minded, you’ll be trusted and therefore, successful. We do everything “open-book” for our clients; nothing is hidden or unknown. So, they trust us to give them the best price we can and they trust us to do a good job and deliver the project they’re expecting to receive.

What you tell young people about your business: It’s never boring! You have to have a technical/linear mind for the construction aspect of the business, but also the ability to confidently communicate with your clients, subcontractors and employees.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? I think Palm Beach is and will continue to be a diverse county. We’re more balanced between business and tourism/snowbirds than some of the other counties; and by business, I also mean agriculture. Though our seasonal population is obviously higher than in the summer months, our county is vibrant year-round. We have a strong business community and I think that will continue.

Where we can find you when you are not at the office: I’m at a meeting or an event for one of the many organizations that I’m involved with. On Saturday, I’m on our boat with friends, and on Sunday, I’m in church and cooking!

Favorite smartphone app: The camera… Is the camera considered an app??

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Desire for the opportunity!

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