Struggles precede success, CEO says

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Patience is key to allowing a business to run and be successful. Be a role model and give back to the community. And absolutely, never give up.

Those were some of the lessons shared by Gail Warrior, the keynote speaker at the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce’s 16th annual banquet, held Saturday at the University of North Texas Gateway Center. About 160 people attended.

“Be happy with what you do because your exuberance is contagious,” said Warrior, president and CEO of Dallas-based Warrior Group Construction Co.

Warrior spent eight years working as an accountant for Mobil before leaving in 1997 to launch her own enterprise, she said. The Warrior Group is one of the largest woman- and minority-owned general contractors in the country.

Women make up just 9 percent of the construction industry, and 76 percent of them hold sales and office positions, according to the website of the National Association of Women in Construction. The association was founded in Fort Worth by 16 women in 1953. Now it has close to 140 chapters across the county. As of 2011, there were 828,000 women in the construction field, according to the association.

Warrior said it took time to build a business now valued at over $100 million. She used successful businessmen like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and KFC’s Colonel Harland Sanders as examples of determination and perseverance.

“I truly believe that the biggest winners in business and in life became that way because they had some pretty big losses,” she said, noting that Colonel Sanders’ famous chicken recipe was rejected many times before he launched his successful restaurant.

“How many people in this room would be able to accept rejection 1,000 times and keep going?” she asked.

Warrior and her company have earned a number of awards. The Warrior Group was named Construction Company of the Year by the Dallas-Fort Worth Minority Business Council in 2005. Warrior was selected as an Outstanding Minority Business Leader by the Dallas Business Journal in 2008, and last year she received the Circle of Excellence Award for Outstanding Women award from the Forth Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber.

Warrior also devotes time to charitable causes. She founded The Heart of a Warrior Charitable Foundation to provide summer enrichment programs to disadvantaged and underserved children in North Texas and also has a mentor group for women business owners.

During the banquet, chamber treasurer John C. Baines emphasized that all attendees were teachers of some kind, and he performed a dramatic reading of “Only a Teacher,” a poem by Ivan Welton Fitzwater. Baines also followed the chamber’s tradition and delighted the crowd by singing the “Chamber Song,” asking attendees to support the work of the local chambers of commerce.

Established in 1995, the goal of the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce is to help with the creation, expansion and proliferation of African-American and minority-owned businesses.

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is kramirez@dentonrc.com.


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