Location: St. Charles, MO
*SECOND YEAR HONOREE*
Sara Hagemeyer owned a successful technology and forensics company, one that paid her bills and was thriving. At the same time, Custom Coatings needed a leader to help resurrect the company, and she knew she could not give both companies her full attention. She took a risk and sold her company to take over as president of Custom Coatings in 2019.
“I sold the business that pays my bills to go all in on rebuilding Custom Coatings to its former glory,” she said. “I risked my livelihood. I have not turned back and have had no regrets!”
Hagemeyer chose to make her unique position as a woman leading a company in a male-dominated field a differentiator for Custom Coatings. She tripled the number of women at the company working in the field, leaning in on diversity.
The company earned certification through the state of Missouri as a WBE (Women Business Enterprise) company. Hagermeyer is in the application process with St Louis Lambert Airport Diversity to gain WBE Certification with the City of St. Louis. These certifications will allow the company to accommodate contracts needing diversity or a percentage of minorities.
“The success I have had this year in moving the company forward in diversity and creating a work environment that empowers not only men but women equally is my greatest accomplishment,” Hagemeyer said. “I will continue to grow a diverse work environment that sets employees up for success regardless of their gender.”
Custom Coatings is a Union Shop focused on commercial and industrial coatings. Its mission is “To build and maintain relationships by providing painting and coating services with integrity that exceed the expectations of our valued customers while maintaining a fun-family oriented environment for employees that promotes equality and innovation in the workplace.”
During and after the height of the COVID pandemic, Custom Coatings encountered a shortage of union painters. Hagemeyer helped recruit painters not in the union to join, helped boost union apprentices and reached out to general contractors and subcontractors to share labor.
“The greatest leadership lesson I have learned this past year is humility,” Hagemeyer said. “Humility leads to open communication, increased collaboration and a more compassionate leadership style. People in a leadership position fail because they take all the credit for successes. Leaders who routinely give no credit to their team and take no responsibility will lose respect of their team. Members of my team are the company’s biggest asset and should feel like they are the biggest asset.”
Hagemeyer has led her team in supporting and sponsoring events for Cardinal Glennon, Special Education Foundation and “A Walk for Miles.”
At the beginning of this journey, when I discovered I was nominated, I really did not know what to expect. After this year I have walked away with more confidence, more knowledge, more resources and most of all more connections in the community. I hope to continue this journey.