In a letter supporting Brie Pfannenbecker for the Women in Stone Pioneer Award, Coldspring’s Kathy Spanier described her as an accomplished leader and role model for women in the business world, who represents the spirit of this award in every aspect.
Starting out in their family business as a counter sales representative, Brie was challenged by dealing with some prejudice that a woman selling to contractors and homeowners could encounter. Brie’s knowledge of product and production, along with her strength of character, always persevered. Her knowledge increased and she went on to work in almost every department at Connecticut Stone, always facilitating change in the organization to improve processes and efficiency and stay compliant with evolving government regulations. Today, Brie is Vice President of Operations at the 70-year-old company, proving herself and her capabilities at all times.
Throughout her 21 years in the industry, Brie has remained as dedicated to her family as she has to her profession. Family businesses are common in the stone industry and as such, present a unique set of issues and circumstances in addition to the day to day business at hand. Brie has participated in many roundtable discussions on this topic, sharing her insights and perspectives that have helped others, including being a champion advocate for advancing women within the industry and inspiring others to be better.
Brie has been instrumental in organizing and developing the Natural Stone Institute’s Women in Stone initiative, serving as the first chair of its Steering Committee. She has led the charge to establish some of their most successful projects, including a Dress for Success charitable donation, the Empowerment Scholarship, and several live educational events and workshops.
Kathy Spanier credits Brie for providing structure and leadership in developing the Women in Stone program to what it is today. She applauds Brie’s commitment: even after she completed her time as chair, she didn’t stop serving. She stayed on, helped, and mentored the group.
Brie coordinated many of the WIS events that created greater awareness for the group. With her insight and knowledge of the industry, she developed the Project Model program at Coverings into an innovative way to educate attendees, while also increasing exposure to Natural Stone Institute member companies. By utilizing the exhibition hall before show hours, it allowed uninterrupted access to member experts who demonstrated aspects of finishing and installing stone on a residential project.
Kim Dumais relates Brie’s leadership, guidance, and humility to setting a roadmap, which allowed a group of women to set forth the programs to implement the Women in Stone vision. She adds, “Brie is not someone to take credit, but rather is one to be a principal component in the big picture.”
Natural Stone Institute CEO Jim Hieb feels it would be difficult to imagine what the Women in Stone program would be like if it hadn’t been for Brie’s early leadership. “Today there are so many programs that women in the natural stone industry can take advantage of: the mentorship program, the networking, the education. And Brie was there from the very start.”
Brie continues to be a tireless volunteer and is always the first to raise her hand to help, whether at her children’s school, within her business, or for Women in Stone. She continues a passionate and committed dedication to advancing women in the stone industry.
Nominations for the 2022 Women in Stone Pioneer Award are being accepted until July 20. Learn more at www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/pioneeraward.
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