April Morse set out to be an elementary school teacher when she started studying at California State University, Stanislaus. During the course of her studies, her father Mark Weber, owner of Weber's Cabinets in Lodi, asked her to start working in his shop in 2001.
When Weber turned the company into a corporation, he asked his daughter to stay on, full-time. Though Morse had promised herself she'd never spend her days working on a computer, she is right at home, working on the administrative side of the business.
Because Weber has been in business for 37 years - and Morse has witnessed his honest attention to quality craftmanship - she decided to buy into the business as a partner at the start of this year. And though her work and home life keep her busy, she found time to talk to Business Editor Marc Lutz about being a rare occurence: a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Q: You have a degree in liberal studies. Has that aided you in the construction industry?
A: Nope. Nothing. I was a music major and I switched. The accountant who does our payroll asked me, "Didn't you take any accounting or math classes?" The name of the math classes I took were, no joke, "How to Teach Elementary School Children Math 1, 2." You're getting ready to teach little kids, so, no.
I thought that's what I really wanted to do. I really had to pray about it when my dad asked me to stay. I worked all these years to get this degree. I started the credential program and I didn't have my heart in it. And I really enjoy working with my dad.
Q: How does being a female in a primarily male-dominated industry benefit or hinder the work you do?
A: I think it's beneficial because I can relate to the women who come in. I think it hinders because if men don't respect me, they don't take me seriously. That's hard.
April Morse at a glanceAge: 29.
Born and raised: Lodi.
Family: Husband, Greg, married nine years; two sons.
Education: Bachelor's degree in liberal studies from California State University, Stanislaus.
Hobbies: Singing solo at Temple Baptist Church in Lodi.
Source: April Morse
Q: Why did you decide to buy into your father's business?
A: I have no doubt in my father's abilities and he's very talented at what he does. I enjoy working here, and I love thinking about how to build cabinets. It's something that makes people happy. We had a guy come in last week. He said, "You built my cabinets in 1974." And I said, "Do you need a remodel?" and he said, "No." I love hearing that. I want to be a part of that.
Q: What are your main duties at Weber Cabinets?
A: Accounts receivable, accounts payable (and) I take orders and bids.
Q: Do you ever help out on the job site with installation?
A: No, not yet. I want to. They keep telling me no. I want to work out in the shop, too. They need me in here more. I get involved as much as I can.
Q: Do you have a feminine sense of style that plays into your role here?
A: I hope so. (My father and his partner) like the plain door front with the raised panel. And I say, "No no no, these people want the raised panel on the drawers, too." There's a difference. They know how to design things, and I'm learning the logistics. They'll say, "That looks too gingerbready," but the people may want that.
Q: What's the greatest lesson you've learned from your father?
A: Work hard and never give up. And make God No. 1.
Q: What do you think the cabinets of the future are going to look and be like?
A: It's a matter of what your style is. Modern: There's the TV that you can put on an arm that raises up from your bed, and you don't have anything but a box around it. It's not "cabinety." I see it as 50/50. Fifty of it going toward less furniture (looking) and more modern, and see other ones (as people) wanting to use their furniture, bookcases, places to put things. It's just a matter of style.
Q: Name three things people should look for when researching new cabinets.
A: Quality - what type of wood they use, what hardware they're going to use, everything. Fairness in price - get a couple quotes and see where the middle ground is. And third, who can design (what you want).
Q: What advice would you give to a young woman seeking to get into the construction trade?
A: You gotta be willing to work with a lot of men. I'm in this business group and there's a lady in there that sells Mary Kay (Cosmetics). She goes to other members' offices and does make-up parties. And I say, "I can't do that here!" (laughs). I'd like to, but I can't!
And I try to dress up as much as I can. I get into this rut where I dress more tom-boyish. I try to stay feminine.