Women in Business 2012

Tiffany TuellNovember 1, 2012 

Whether just starting out or an experienced professional, the Mountain Area community is full of business women working in a variety of career paths -- from banking and real estate to boutique management and working in a man's world -- each with their own unique story to tell.

Daisy Demeusy began that path at the age of 15 when her dad helped her get a job at Wood Chopper's Supply in Oakhurst. It began as a summer janitorial job, but after graduation she needed a full-time job and before she knew it, she was learning how to repair chainsaws.

Demeusy has been at Wood Choppers for 15 years now and does everything from bookkeeping to chainsaw repairs. She says she enjoys her job that is different from most as well as being able to work with her hands.

Not used to seeing a woman behind the counter of a chainsaw repair shop, Demeusy says she has had to earn the trust of men that come in to the shop and inquire about repairs.

"It takes a lot of trust in a small business like this, so it takes them a long time to warm up to trusting a woman," Demeusy said. "I listen to hear what they need and if I don't know the answer, I go and ask so I know better how to answer their questions later on."

Demeusy enjoys her job so much, she encourages other women to pursue a similar career, even if it's a little out of the box.

"My advice would be to just go for it and don't let them (people) scare you," she said. "If you really want to do it, don't be afraid to just ask and jump in."

Krista Gorman recently jumped right into her new role as manager of Simple to Superb, a small clothing boutique near DiCicco's in Oakhurst. She moved all the way from Mammoth to help her mom out who is the store's owner.

"I'm just excited to have a reason to move to Oakhurst and work closely with my mom," Gorman said.

Previously, Gorman was an AT&T store manager in Mammoth and says working at the small boutique in the small community of Oakhurst is a different experience.

"I like getting to be a part of it and getting to know everybody in a way I wouldn't be able to elsewhere," Gorman said. "It's fun to be able to know all the customers who come in. It's like hanging out all day with friends and being able to pick out clothes -- it's cool."

Gorman says there are a few key things to keep in mind as a businesswoman. One, is to stay involved in your business because "nobody loves your business like you do." Another is to always listen to the customer. Gorman says they are happy to take requests and will do their best to fill special orders.

They are currently trying to expand their inventory and are offering more sizes. All their clothes are hand selected to offer the best quality.

Since she began working at the store, they've extended their hours so they're open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week so that people who work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. can still come in after work or on the weekends.

Listening to the customer is something that all the Mountain Area businesswomen say is key and something that Shelle Abbott, branch manager at Central Valley Community Bank, can't stress enough.

"You have to have compassion for the people in the community," Abbott said. "Knowing my clients really helps me because it puts their situation in perspective and makes it personal."

Abbott has been in banking off and on for 35 years. She got her first job when she was 16 years old at Bank of America where she manually pulled credit reports. At that time she didn't have big career plans -- all she wanted to be was a mother more than anything -- but she stayed in banking and worked at a number of banks through the years. She took some time off to be with her children, but when they got older she decided to go back to banking. She was hired as Oakhurst branch manager for Central Valley Community Bank, where she has been for nearly eight years.

Abbott says she loves banking because, in a small community, she gets to know all her clients on a personal basis, have a real relationship with the community, help the community survive a recession and help people keep their businesses open.

Banking is a career that Abbott says she would definitely recommend to others. "It's a great career, a long-term career. Banks usually promote from within, especially community banks, and you can really help people," Abbott said.

Helping out a client by working out every situation, even down to waving a banking fee so a mother can have milk money for her children, and receiving their gratification is what makes it all worth it for Abbott.

Joy Kagawa, a physical therapist at Sierra Physical Therapy, can also see that gratification all over town. Even as she buys groceries, she will see a former client wave to her from across the store, illustrating that her work helped rehabilitate their shoulder.

"Our tag line is quality of life through motion so getting people moving again and back to normal activities is rewarding," Kagawa said.

Kagawa has been working in the community since 1985 and says the key to success is doing the best you can to help those around you.

"It's certainly a rewarding profession and nice to meet people out there in the community and know that they have gotten better with my help," Kagawa said. "Treating them in a way you'd like to be treated, like the golden rule, and letting them know that we care and that it is our job, to help them help themselves."

For Melissa Buller, a Century 21 real estate agent, a successful day on the job is being able to help people fulfill their dream of finding and owning their own home.

Even before becoming a realtor, Buller learned the secrets to a successful business from owning her own cleaning business for 15 years. However her dream was always to become a realtor so when her youngest child was a senior in high school, she decided to follow her dream.

"I absolutely love my job and it's important for me to make things happen for clients," said Buller, who has been in the business for 11 years now.

Buller says her favorite thing about her job is handing a young couple the keys to their first house after they worked hard to save money for it or helping a retired couple find a retirement home in the mountains.

"Buying a home is the single most important purchase you can make and I still believe in the American dream -- home ownership," Buller said. "I measure my success by my clients happiness and their satisfaction with what I do for them,"

And like all the other businesswomen, Buller adds the most important skill she has learned over the years is how to listen to clients.

"Listening to your client and what their needs are above my own, paying attention to detail and quality service are really important to me," Buller said. "I'm a believer in getting a lot farther with sugar than vinegar ... be nice, be kind."

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