The prestigious award was bestowed at an Oct. 13 gala awards banquet in Seattle by Women Business Owners, a leading Puget Sound organization for women entrepreneurs.
This year’s recipient, Lynden resident Janelle Bruland, purchased Ferndale-based Management Services Northwest as a small janitorial company of 10 employees in 1995. She has since built it into a regional facility management company with 240 employees, branches in Portland and Spokane, and business partners across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Bruland also serves on the board of the Building Services Contractors Association International and on the editorial committee for Services magazine.
Bruland grew up as a daughter of Don and Janice Geleynse of Lynden and graduated from Lynden Christian High School.
The Ferndale Record sat down with Bruland to talk about receiving the prestigious award.
Ferndale Record: What has been the biggest challenge for you as a woman in business?
Janelle Bruland: Working in a male-dominated industry like facility management has been a challenge. It sometimes takes more effort for a woman to be taken seriously by her peers. Yet, as time has gone on, the environment for women in this industry has improved. There are a lot more women business owners now and, for the most part, I find that I am welcomed by the men in my industry. We talk about the tough issues that we face and lend support to each other as we work to maintain our businesses.
FR: How have business challenges changed for women since you first started?
JB: Over the years there are more women that have stepped up to meet the challenges of business, and there are more local groups that support women in business like Whatcom Women in Business, and, of course, the WBO. As women see other women who are bold and successful, it prompts them to be courageous as well. You can have it all. You can be a good mother and wife, a strong business leader, and give back to the community. Yet, I have also strived to participate in groups where there is a mix of both genders. Men’s and women’s styles complement each other. Blending the two different styles in leadership groups makes for a stronger, more effective organization.
FR: What advice would you give to women facing the challenges you faced?
JB: It’s important to find that niche where your talents are most effective, where you can give back in a positive way. Follow your passion and you will be good at everything you do. Seek the support of mentors and resources around you. You don’t have to do it alone. Surround yourself with an amazing team. That’s how I’ve done it.
FR: Who provided your greatest inspiration as you worked to build your business?
JB: My parents raised me with a great work ethic and told me to do my best, to use the gifts I’ve been given. My team inspires me every day with their optimism and their tenacity to survive and thrive in this recession.
FR: This award is based in part on entrepreneurial spirit and ethics. How important are these attributes and how do they factor into your business style?
JB: You have to be entrepreneurial to have the guts and passion to build a business. As for ethics, one of our core values is absolute integrity. If you compromise ethics, you end up losing in the long run. If you are using strong ethics, you make the right decisions along the way, which creates opportunities that you would otherwise miss if you took unethical shortcuts.
FR: Do you think it is important for business leaders to be involved in the community?
JB: I was raised to put something in the offering plate every Sunday. It’s been a very special honor to be part of improving our community and helping people who may not have anybody else to turn to. It makes the community a better place for ourselves and for our children. As business leaders, if we can come together as a group, many hands make light work. With our resources, we can have a great effect.
Via Lynden Tribune Lynden woman wins regional award