For a little more than three decades, Kim Dumais, vice president of sales at Miller Druck Specialty Contracting, Inc. has dedicated herself to absorbing all there is to know about the stone industry, as well as sharing this information with others. She has been an active member of Women In Stone since it was founded, and recently was recognized with the 2022 Pioneer Award by the Natural Stone Institute. Here’s a little more about Kim.
SW: You are a veteran of the stone industry. How did you first get your start?
KD: I am originally from Rhode Island. In the late 80s, I worked for a bank in which a stone subcontractor was a client. One day, their chief financial officer offered me a position in the accounting department, which I graciously accepted. They put me in a small area in a back office, and within two weeks, I was going crazy. Eventually, they moved me to their Special Projects Division as an administrative assistant. The manager at the time, a former teacher, made me take stone samples home. She said to return them only once I knew exactly what species, where they were from and how they could be used. It did not take long before I was hooked. That was the beginning of my love affair with stone. I moved to New York in 1992 to work with a stone distributor, and eventually, found my way to Miller Druck, where I have been employed for the past 26 years.
SW: From co-workers to industry friends, they all admire your passion for what you do, as well as to mentor and educate. Where does this drive come from?
KD: I have been very fortunate to have had very strong women mentors from early on in my career. Gloria Desjardin, the women who made me bring home samples, is the reason I fell in love with stone. Barbara Cohen, whom I have had the great fortune to work with for the past 26 years, has been my biggest mentor, teacher, advocate, supporter, etc. etc. etc… I would not be in this position or as fortunate as I am today without these two women in my life. Fortune for me is the ability to work in an industry I truly love and in an industry where my colleagues, suppliers, Natural Stone Institute (NSI) / Women In Stone (WIS) members, have become my extended family. I have truly been blessed, and without a doubt, need to pay it forward.
SW: I understand you were among the first to join the Steering Committee for WIS when it was first established. What were some reasons you wanted to get involved?
KD: I have been in the industry for 33 years. Early on, there were some very memorable situations on a site and dealing with contractors or clients, in which being a woman was a detriment.
As I stated above, I have had the great fortune of working for Barbara Cohen and a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) company for the past 26 years. Although she does not believe someone’s gender has any impact on ability, unfortunately, this is not the same belief held by all. Over the years, unfortunately so, I have witnessed some of her own employees question her ability or not give the respect so rightfully due her. This made me realize as a woman, one could hold the well-earned position of “president,” “CEO” or “owner”, however, as a women the position itself does not deem the same level of respect as would a man in the same position. This is not to be said that this belief is held by all, but unfortunately , it is still held by some. Barbara Cohen, without argument, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the stone industry. She was recently awarded the Migliore Award by NSI. If she still must deal with this mentality, even once, there is still work to do.
SW: If you had one piece of advice to give a young woman beginning her career in the stone industry, what would it be?
KD: Take the opportunity to learn all you can. Knowledge is power. Seek out mentorship programs, whether formal through WIS Mentorship programs or working with experienced people within your own company. More often than not, people are willing to help. We all need to be proactive in educating ourselves. The opportunities are out there, it just takes a little work and initiative.
SW: What are among your most memorable experiences during your tenor in the stone industry?
KD: Many years ago, I was the project manager on a very large upscale residential project in Florida. I flew back and forth every other week for two and a half years. We were brought in by the architect and were not the preferred subcontractor of the general contractor. The plumber gave me such a hard time. He refused to work with me and would only work with our foreman. The general contractor, although not as difficult, did not like the idea that we were forced onto their project. At the end of the project, the project manager from the general contractor wrote me a thank you note and stated he could not have done the job without me. I still have the note tacked up on my board.
SW: Recently, you received the Pioneer Award by NSI. What does this honor mean to you?
KD: Literally the world. I may have been up on the podium receiving the award, but it was not me independently receiving this award. It is a collective effort. I, as well as all the other board and committee members of the WIS, work collectively to accomplish the goals we have set out. I am very proud to be part of this amazing group and even prouder of the work we do.
SW: Throughout your career, you have had many milestones and accomplishments. What is next on your bucket list, so to speak?
KD: I am not so knowledgeable about exterior installation and anchorage. I am working with a great team on an exterior project now. I need to put my money where my mouth is and take this opportunity to educate myself.
As for the WIS, we have accomplished so much in the last eight years. I can’t wait to see what the next eight years will bring.
SW: How do you enjoy spending your time when you are not working?
KD: I belong to a book club consisting of 17 amazing and strong women. Recently, we just celebrated reading our 100th book. Additionally, I love long walks with Zoey, my beloved Goldendoodle, cooking (and as anyone who knows me will attest) wine. I chaired the committee that developed the Wine and Stone CEU.
Video courtesy of the Natural Stone Institute
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