A Coffee With Carla

A Coffee With Carla
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SPRAY FOAM MAGAZINE – Carla Airey Colinares has a reputation for being a mentor, cheerleader, and inspiration for many in the SPF industry. The Spray Foam Magazine team sat down with Carla and over a cup of coffee, discussed the importance of building a stronger community, listening to others, and how she is supporting women who pursue a career in the spray foam industry.

Spray Foam Magazine: Where do you live?

Carla Airey Colinares: I live between Saskatoon and Regina in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

SFM: How have your life experiences shaped who you are today?

CAC: All the challenges I have overcome have made me strong and resilient. They have taught me that when you get knocked down, you get right back up again.

SFM: How did you get started in the industry?

CAC: My husband Rex and I formed a company in 2013 named Handy Guyz. We were trying to create a space for all trades, I suppose we were trying to create a Facebook for tradespeople. Through that, I connected with a guy in the insulation manufacturing sector and started working with him doing marketing and sales. I then formed my own marketing company named Casa.

SFM: Why is this industry so special to you?

CAC: I can’t express how I feel about the people in the industry. Many of my marketing clients were spray foam contractors, so I became a member of the Facebook group SFWW (Spray Foam Worldwide). For me, it was about getting these spray foam contractors seen and heard so they could find jobs. Many of these contractors have become successful business people and they have rallied around me when I have needed them. They have my back, and I will always be their biggest cheerleader. I am incredibly proud of what many of them have achieved.

SFM: Tell us about what was behind A Coffee with Carla.

CAC: Coffee with Carla was pre-TikTok and Instagram. I noticed there were platforms for other groups, but not spray foam. It was a platform for people, whether it be contractors, manufacturers, or suppliers, to talk about the industry, their life journey, and how they got to where they are today. People have asked me to bring it back and I’m considering it.

SFM: How has your previous experience in the industry aided your tenure at Genyk?

CAC: I’m in sales at Genyk as an Account Manager for the Saskatchewan/Manitoba Territory. My greatest experience was, and still is, with the contractors. Because I have that relationship, they are never just a number. Often when I call them it is not to check up on when their next order is, but simply to ask how they are. Throughout my life, the relationships I have in both my personal and professional life have meant everything to me. The team around me at Genyk is the best. I am the first woman in Canada to have a sales position in the spray foam industry and they have been very supportive. I am very grateful to all of them. There has not been one moment where my gender has played a role in my abilities within this company.

Carla with her husband, Rex

SFM: What have been the highlights and challenges during your time in the industry?

CAC: In terms of a challenge, the introduction of training and certification can be a tough conversation. Luckily in Canada, we have a lot of that in place. The U.S. is talking more about training but getting those things in place can be such a slow process. Also, working in sales for different companies does not mean people have to be mortal enemies. It’s important to be friendly, you may one day need to collaborate. In terms of the highlight, it will always be the people that I meet in the spray foam industry. From the people at Genyk to SFWW and the Bad Ass Women of Spray Foam.

SFM: What advice can you offer women who are considering a career in the SPF industry?

CAC: The very first thing I would advise them to do is join the Bad Ass Women of Spray Foam, which is a private group on social media. There are so many women in the industry on there – from owner-operators, sprayers, manufacturing, and sales. It’s a solid group of over 200 women. They are an incredible group who help and support each other.  

SFM: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

CAC: The most important lesson, whether it be with a client or a work colleague, is to really take time to listen to people.

SFM: How do you maintain a work/life balance?

CAC: Having four grown children is much easier than having little kids. However, I don’t know if there is a perfect work/life balance. You must try and do your best and be mindful of your time but that’s not easy. My husband says that when I am working, I have tunnel vision and a total focus on what I am doing. He’s a great supporter of mine and with the same work ethic, so it’s easy for him to relate. He’s my favorite person in the world.

SFM: What do you think the biggest issue for women in the workplace is?

CAC: This is not the majority, but presumptions can be made, as in all industries. For example, I have received calls in the past because people have assumed I was the administrative assistant. Some women I know who own a spray foam company, turn up to the job site, and the client will look at them and say, “I want to speak to the man in charge, where is your boss?” When they tell them that they are the boss, they get laughed at. On the flip side, we have so many brother supporters who look out for us and us for them.

SFM: How has mentorship had an impact on your professional and personal life?

CAC: There are certain people that you really listen to and follow. I’m lucky that I have lots of those people in my life. It’s the key to succeeding. At Genyk, Mike Richmond is that person. Without him, I would not have my position there. I spoke with him way before I joined the company and he’s a great person with a wealth of knowledge. The sales team at Genyk are also great mentors. Personally speaking, it’s my husband Rex and my close friends. It’s a matter of surrounding yourself with great people.

Carla starts her days with a positive greeting to her followers, ”Good morning good humans.

SFM: Which other women do you admire in the industry and why?

CAC: There are so many great women I admire in the industry. However, the ultimate for me is Jennifer Edwards of Glenn Insulation. She has overcome so many things in her life and is still a great leader in this industry. She is loyal, trustworthy, and resilient. The best kind of human, and I adore her.

SFM: What do you want to accomplish in the next year?

CAC: Workwise, we have set our goals and I know they will happen. Personally, I feel that this is the first year in my life that I feel settled in and happy in myself, and that’s a big accomplishment.

SFM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

CAC: The only thing I must add is that I am very proud and honored to be part of this industry, and very grateful for all the amazing people I have met and will meet on this spray foam journey.

Keep up the great work, Carla! You are a true inspiration to all and a great reminder that shaping positive relationships in the workplace, brings out the best qualities in all parties.  

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