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The Dirt

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Nancy Baker: Co-founder of Southeastern
Many people are familiar with my grandfather’s story as the founder of Southeastern. But they might not know as much about our company’s co-founder and my grandmother, Nancy Baker.

In the late 1950s, my grandfather Bill got his first big franchise with the Adam Motor Grader Company. But part of the deal was that he had to have a Parts Department with a full-time parts manager. So he turned to the smartest person he knew — his wife.

Nancy quit her job at the state hospital to help run the business. In the early years, she had her hands full. She was southeastern’s first
bookkeeper, maintaining handwritten records, managing invoices, and counting parts on the floor as her two young children looked on. She never really talked about what it was like to juggle a career and a family. She believed if a job needed done, you have to do it. She was the glue and the nucleus of the family. Warm and caring, yet fiery and fearless. A small town pioneer from Southern Ohio who broke glass ceilings long before they were built. Her love of family and passion for the business will always be an inspiration to me.

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond. We asked a few Southeastern associates to talk about their careers as women in a traditionally male-dominated field. I am so honored to work alongside so many intelligent and talented female leaders here at Southeastern who are creating a lasting impact on our industry, customers, and our company. While the path to true equity for all of our team members is still long, I’m proud of where we’re going together.

Sally Darby: Executive Assistant – Cambridge, OH
Years Of Service – 42 Years
It’s been said that only the strongest people become administrative assistants. After 42 years of problem-solving, managing, and multi-tasking, Sally Darby proves it’s true.

Tell us a little about your career history.
I started out working for Mr. Baker’s father in March 1979
before beginning full-time at Southeastern in October that year.

Sometimes I’ve felt bad about not finishing college. But I’ve always been encouraged and supported to learn new things — from accounting and computer work to overseeing operations in various areas. My day-to-day is a mish-mash of everything — managing the calendar, arranging travel, prepping for sales meetings, basically whatever it takes to make sure things run smoothly and Mr. Baker has what he needs.

What changes have you seen over the years?
We only had three stores when I started. In the early 1990s, we opened some stores in Florida, and I moved there for a few years to help set up the books and operations. It was rewarding to know they had confidence in me for that project. I also had a part in helping the company make the move from paper files to computers. We used to have to stay late at night to back up the computer systems on large reels of tape. It’s come a long way.

Is there a woman who’s inspired you personally or professionally?
My mother, who’s 91.  She raised nine kids on her own and worked in a factory her entire life. Her one goal was to make sure we all finished high school. As a teenager, I remember she’d come home after being on her feet all day and take a nap until dinner was ready. I understand now why she did that. She taught us to work hard and take pride in what you do. I’m so happy for the way I was raised. She gave us our core values and taught us the importance of family.

Carrie Haiflich: Regional Parts Manager ­– Indiana and Michigan
Years 0f Service – 30 Years
Balancing family and career isn’t anything new for Carrie Haiflich. She was a single mom working three jobs when a temporary position at a construction company turned her passion for parts into a career spanning three decades.

Can you tell us a little about your career path?
In 1990, I was filling in for an administrative assistant who was on leave at Reid-Holcomb Construction Company in Fort Wayne. I got a lot of exposure to the business in that role. When a job opened up in the Parts Department. I told them, ‘Hey, I really want this job. If I’m no good at it, send me down the road.’ They gave me the opportunity, and I learned a lot. A year later the company went out of business. Southeastern was right across the street, and they recruited and hired me. I guess it was meant to be. I’ve been here for almost 30 years, and I love it.

How do you motivate your team?
They call me the tornado with sunshine. I can’t sit behind a desk. I like to be involved with my team by letting them know when they’re doing a great job and inspiring them to engage with our customers by learning everything they can to provide the best service.

What’s the most exciting thing about being in the industry?
Seeing how things can change, and being a part of that change. Thirty years ago, I’m not sure how some of the guys felt about the short, spunky woman running the Parts Department. But nothing stays the same forever. In 2018, I was nominated for the MVP award and I actually won! After the awards event, Mr. Baker saw me in the parking lot and said, “I just want you to know you deserved that award.” That was a WOW moment.

Dawn Bishard: Accounts Payable Manager — Cambridge, OH
Years of Service – 25 Years
There’s one thing you need to know about Dawn
Bishard: Whether you’re a vendor, customer, or
colleague, she wants to make you happy.

How did you get your start at Southeastern?
I got married and moved to Cambridge. I had my degree in accounting and found this position at Southeastern. It was close to home and seemed like a great place to work. They offered me the job, and I’ve been here for 25 years.

What changes have you seen over the years?
We didn’t even have email until about four years into my position. So it’s been interesting to watch how technology has changed the entire workforce. We can communicate online more easily and quickly now. And you don’t even have to leave your desk to get things done. But that can be good and bad. You have to work at making sure you have personal contact too.

What’s the best part of your job?
The people and the day-to-day challenges. I’m a problem solver, and I just like to do whatever I can to keep people happy.

Is there a woman who’s inspired you along the way?
I always looked up to Nancy Baker. She was one strong woman. She knew what she wanted, and she worked hard for it. Nancy always had a smile, and she was always willing to share what she had learned with others. I respected her and miss her.

Taylor StimpertRental Manager – Dublin, OH
Years of Service – 2.5 Years
Being a well-respected female leader in the heavy-equipment world is still challenging. And for Taylor Stimpert, that challenge is what inspired her career.

How did you become interested in heavy equipment?
I started out in sales and management roles with several national retailers. But I was bored and wanted to get out of my comfort zone. My dad had a background in the industry, and I’d been around it most of my life. So in 2016, I landed a job as a sales
representative with Franklin Equipment in Knoxville, Tennessee. Then three years later, I joined Southeastern to help drive the
rental side of the business and I have been here now for 2.5 years. I’m really excited about the opportunity to take rental
to the next level. 

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Meeting the customers and building those relationships. I really enjoy going on calls with the sales reps so I can see things first hand and learn more about what goes on in the field. I’m definitely a hands-on leader.

Do you have any advice for women starting a career in this industry?
Be confident, and be prepared. Step up when you know your stuff, and you’ll earn the respect of others. Continuing education is also important. Don’t be afraid to jump on a piece of equipment and learn everything you can. A lot more women are starting to join the industry, and we’re making a difference.