‘MY STORY’ The last thing I ever wanted to do was turn tail and run, because it would have felt as though I’d failed. I replied, “No, I’m an independent woman, I’m a professional, I can handle this on my own.” I’m so thankful for the support system that I had, but I really wanted to be able to look back at that period of time in my life and remind myself that I got to where I am now because I made it so.
In 2014, I got a really great opportunity to move to Colorado to work for The Sports Authority. The first year I was there I got married. I bought a new house and was living the perfect life I’d always dreamed. Seven months later, my husband died suddenly. A few months after that, I got laid off. I was standing at this precipice of uncertainty. What do I do? I’m 25. My entire family lives in Illinois. I’m stuck in Colorado with a mortgage I can’t afford, no job and now I’m a widow. I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps. It was not what I wanted my life to be. I liked my job and I wanted to stay in retail. Determined to rebuild my life, I did a nationwide job search. I found Aaron’s and was hired during my phone interview. I sold my house the next day and I was gone. I moved to Georgia two weeks later. I started as a store design planner. About five months after I started, I was promoted to manager of the entire store planning department. It took a lot of ambition and a lot of perseverance. I remember, the first thing that anyone ever asked me after my husband passed away was, “You’re moving home, right?”
I learned at a really early age, coming from a divorced home, that you have to rely on yourself. My father owned his own businesses for pretty much my entire life. He taught us from a very young age to work hard. – Colleen Biggs, The Little Gym
COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION & RENOVATION — NOVEMBER : DECEMBER 2018
Kelly Burnette, F&D Commercial: My career life started in early childhood education, but I decided to take a pause and step out of that life when I chose to have children of my own. I stayed home full-time with my children for eight years before returning to the work force. I’m a big believer in being in the right place at the right time and along this journey, there were several of those pivotal moments that got me to where I am now. I love networking, so while I was at home with my kids, I volunteered a lot and I joined the PTSA board at their elementary school. As it turned out, I needed to recruit somebody to be our treasurer. I reached out to a girlfriend to recruit her to volunteer and join me on the board. She agreed, if I would in turn agree to help her out. Her husband was trying to grow his business and needed someone who could do takeoffs and estimating and she thought that it would be the perfect job because I could do it while the kids were in school. It instantly felt like home for me. I grew up in a family of contractors that were masons & bricklayers, so it felt like a very natural fit for me to land in the commercial construction arena. The company that I was estimating for purchased another company that focused on providing installation services to numerous retailers in the home improvement sector. They hired me as an account manager, and I got into project management and the installation side of the business. I didn’t know anything about flooring or installation at the time, but I learned quickly. I would read trade publications, attend manufacturer training sessions, and go visit my jobs and get my hands dirty with the contractors onsite. I’d ask why they were doing things the way they did, and how things worked. I wanted to learn everything that I could, so that I could see things from their perspective and be successful on both ends of the spectrum.