I’d like to introduce a new feature on this site – “10 Minutes with…”. My first participant is Rosa Hearn who I run into continuously on social media and at trade shows. Her lively participation in industry organizations also was a reason I thought she would be a good person to start with. So, here goes….
Rosa Hearn, also known as “Rosa the Proferred Riveter,” currently works at Brighton-Best International. Rosa is also the current Chairwomen of Women in the Fastener Industry and Vice Chairman of the Fastener Industry Coalition. To find out more about Rosa, you may follower her on LinkedIn and at @ProferredRivets on Instagram or Twitter.
How did you get into the fastener industry and how long have you been in it?
I was working as a cashier at Carl’s Jr. when a temporary agency representative handed me her card. The representative mentioned she liked how I was handling the customers and said “When you’re ready for a change, call me”. That same week, I was offered a promotion to become a shift leader at Carl’s Jr. Even though, I was proud to work at Carl’s Jr., I knew it was not my future. So I quit Carl’s Jr. and walked into the temporary agency the next day.
The sales agent remembered me and asked if I wanted to go on an interview that same day. That interview was for a receptionist at Bolt Products. I was hired that week as a temp. I was so scared to have my first office job at 18 but I worked very hard and didn’t want to disappoint the representative who placed me there. Bolt Products made me a full time employee within two weeks of being at the job. That was 27 years ago. However, I have been in the fastener industry for 25 years.
You are one of the most active fastener people on social media. Tell us about how you started posting and why you remain so active.
Before being on various platforms, I only used Facebook to keep in touch with my extended family in Mexico. I was nervous to be on social media. I didn’t even know where to begin or what I am supposed to be doing. When I became Product Manager for the Proferred Rivet Line at BBI, I knew that I had to get the word out. The rivet industry was already a saturated market, with well-known experts and brand names. How do you penetrate the market with sameness? I wanted to develop an authentic voice for the Proferred brand, so I went into action. I went to social media.
How did you get so involved in WIFI?
I found WIFI on a LinkedIn page group. Originally, I had no idea what was it about. I just knew I was a woman and in the fastener industry and it was probably something I should be a part of. I really began to get involved when I took the time to remember my own personal journey. I worked with a woman who I met when I first entered the fastener industry. I admired her and wished that she would take me under her wing. I wanted her to teach me. She was a star at that fastener company and I wanted to be just like her. Unfortunately, I learned that she wanted to be the only star and was making sure my light was not shining. I was so hurt by this. When you are young and new, it is easy to get discouraged. I promised myself I would never do this to another person. I wanted do everything in my power to assist, guide and help at least one person become successful to the best of my ability. WIFI enabled me to keep fulfilling that promise.
Excluding Peggy, who you work with, who do you see as some of the most influential women in the fastener industry?
I wish I knew every woman in the fastener industry to answer that question. Instead, there are many traits that influential women have in common. What I’ve learned is that it all starts with a decision about how a women chooses to live her life – that there are lifestyles that either support or sabotage success.
Also, these women are not addicted to approval and have thick skin when it comes to rejection. The most influential women are the ones who never give up. These influential women, despite sometimes being ignored or doubted by others in their field they keep on going to find success. They do not let the fear of being forgotten or pushed around stop them from appreciating every major or minor success. There is a layer of drive on their skin that grows over time and it cancels out whatever negativity surrounds them. These passionate women, are not invincible—they are human. A fact contradicted by every time they have been knocked down by failure or doubt, yet still managed to get back up and fight with an open mind.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for women in the fastener industry?
Some women may say being treated equal, not being able to lean in or asking for more money might be the biggest challenges for women. Even though these issue are important, I really believe the biggest challenge for women overall is oneself. Self-inflicted challenges like giving up, stubbornness, limiting your own potential, lack of focus, negative thinking and poor due diligence keeps some women from being successful regardless of their position. You have no idea how many men have come up to me at tradeshows and asked “How do I get my female employee to accept a promotion?” Many of these promotions come with travel, extended hours or doing something out of their comfort zone. Whatever the reason is to not accept that position, every woman should believe they can do it and do that job well.
What is it that you like most about the fastener industry?
What I like most about the fastener industry is the opportunity to change it and grow within it. The fastener industry has been around a long time. It has history, longevity and stability. However, because it is so traditional, change is slow, but that is the best part! Technology, social selling, going international are a few examples of how a company can grow, create new departments and reinvent themselves. To be able to create a new department because you speak a different language, or the ability to embrace new machinery, makes this industry so exciting to me.
Anything else you’d like to share with the fastener industry?
When I first started in sales, I practiced every day how to say “Good Morning” I figured out nine different ways to fix my tone and project my voice in ways to sound friendly and excited. This may sound silly, but till this day I still practice everything I do. From a basic handshake to how I smile and laugh.
I also want to take the time to thank a few people that mentored me. I did not have very many female role models growing up, but I am and still grateful to the fastener men who took me under their wing. So Thank you, Bryan Earl, Jim Labrie, Ken Schmidt, Barry Fitzgerald and Len Bost. These five men in the span of 25 years helped me become the Rosa you know today. If you are in a position to help guide someone, please do so. Who knows? You might be mentoring the next Rosa the Riveter.