Spotlight on Mollie Neil: The CEO Empowering Contractors to Succeed in Storm Restoration
Chief Executive Officer of Elite Claim Solutions, Mollie Neil, has been in the storm exterior industry for 12+ years and knows a thing or two about empowering women in roofing as well as supplementing and growing roofing companies. Mollie recently decided that helping contractors with their supplementing efforts simply isn’t enough. She plans to lean on her experience of growing offices to further help contractors grow their businesses.
Mollie answered our questions regarding her path to success and her new initiatives.
1. How did you get your start in storm restoration?
I answered an ad on craigslist in 2009 for a part-time office manager position for a newer branch office of a growing storm remodeling company, 123 Exteriors. I was finishing my degree at Ohio State and wanted a part-time job to supplement my existing income. I knew nothing about the industry but had experience in office management. During my time at school, I interned in the nonprofit space but decided to continue with 123 after graduation because the company opened so many doors for me. I was able to grow and excel in different positions. Our leadership team continued to find new avenues for me to move into, and that responsibility and exposure really drove my passion for working in the industry and with 123 specifically.
2. When and how did you become Vice President of 123 Exteriors?
I moved from a regional office in Columbus, Ohio to a new office in St. Louis in 2013. That move allowed me to work directly with our owner and spearhead programs such as building a telemarketing division, staffing and organizing two new storm offices, and to be directly involved with new initiatives that allowed our company to grow: a marketing division and supplementing division. I was promoted to the VP role in 2014 when the company moved the official headquarters to St. Louis.
3. How did you excel in this seemingly male-dominated industry?
I contribute my success in part to being in the right place and surrounding myself with the right people. I’m grateful I was able to start my career with 123 Exteriors and with an owner who valued diverse opinions, innovation, and flexibility. When I was first promoted to a leadership role, there was one other woman at a management level. When I left 123, more than 50 percent of our management/leadership staff was women. Leaning on and seeing the examples of other women in leadership roles in our industry (and in general) was also a large contributing factor. Since moving to St. Louis, I have been involved in a few women and leadership programs. Attending the NWIR Day at the IRE in 2020 was invaluable. Elite is 67% female and it’s pretty awesome to be a part of.
4. What was your biggest accomplishment at 123?
I loved seeing the growth and development of the people I had hired and/or had a part in their training program. It is extremely rewarding to see people that you have worked closely with excel in part because of your efforts.
5. Why did you decide to move to Elite Claim Solutions?
I saw the need for our supplementing services and was excited to have the opportunity to help good contractors succeed in a fast-moving environment. That coupled with continuing to learn from and work with our owner, Mike, made the transition to Elite a very easy decision.
6. What made you decide to offer general recruiting services and training for office managers within the exterior remodeling industry?
The bulk of my career with 123 had centered around recruiting and training our office staff, from Office Admin to all positions within our Accounting & HR departments, to canvassing and telemarketing teams and it’s always been an area I’ve enjoyed. While the markets and individual office culture that I hired for varied, I could stick to a streamlined process that allowed me to work more effectively. I feel like I can bring this same process to help other contractors in their hiring efforts.
7. Why should a busy contractor lean on your training skills?
I have been both the trainee and trainer on a day-to-day basis.
I understand exactly where new (and even veteran!) Office Manager are coming from. I had to learn the industry on the fly when I was hired while keeping an office running smoothly. Non-revenue generating, administrative tasks are crucial to keeping a company’s workflow and office moving, but that doesn’t mean owners and upper management staff should be handling the tasks. An owner’s time is much more impactful if they have a skilled and trained Office Manager in place.
Spending the time to train multiple positions year after year has enabled me to grow and develop my training skills. Many companies don’t have a formal training program in place and rely on word-of-mouth training and sitting for hours with a new office trainee. Busy contractors don’t have the time or resources to help make new hires successful. I strongly feel like this is something my team and I can handle for them.
8. How do you stay up to date on the storm industry?
E-newsletters, industry organizations and communication with our team and clients. We have a direct line to what’s happening on the insurance side and out in the field with our clients. A lot of trends and feedback we’re seeing rely on us all communicating and sharing experiences. Social media has made our world smaller and more accessible, which is good in a lot of ways. There are tons of groups to be joined or followed.
9. What would you say to other women getting into the roofing industry?
Create your niche and surround yourself with people you can learn from and who will challenge you to think outside the box. Make sure you’re seeking out people who have different opinions and come from different backgrounds. Choose a company that practices the values that align with your own.
The industry has changed so much since my decade plus; I’m excited to see where it goes.