Renee Sargent always knew she wanted to work for the family’s construction business. Her father, Don Sargent, started the company in the family’s basement when Renee was 13 and gradually grew it into a profitable business with multiple employees and repeat customers. A former iron worker, Don had decided his work experience and knowledge would best serve him in the metal building segment of the industry – and immediately chose Star as his partner. When business continued to grow and it became apparent the company would need an official location, Don used leftover building parts to construct the first building to proudly display the Sargent Construction Company name.
Throughout Renee’s junior high and high school years, the bustling company was a source of great pride among the family – building not only quality buildings that exceeded customer expectations, but a reputation as a great place to work where employees could build long-term careers.
As she graduated college and began to think about the future, however, Renee says the urge to “get out of Dodge” took over. She left behind the Dodge otherwise known as Fredricktown, MO to head for the bright lights of St. Louis. A civil engineering student, she focused her time in St. Louis on obtaining her engineering license and working for a local construction company to build her experience.
A single phone call in 1987, however, changed her course in a matter of minutes.
It wasn’t the job offer of a lifetime on the other end of the line, though – it was the news that her father had lost his life in a tragic automobile accident. As the shock slowly made its way through the family and the company, one common belief began to unite them: the business should go on. Renee packed up her life in St. Louis and returned home to Fredericktown to continue her father’s work.
“Throughout my teenage and college years, when I worked for my dad’s company in the summers, my goal was always to just be one of the guys. I didn’t want to be the boss’s daughter – I wanted to be one of the guys, just out there doing the work. I worked out in the field on the construction team, worked with the concrete crew, and later worked in the office doing estimating. So when I came back to run the company, I already had a history with most of the people at the company because they had been there all along and I knew them;” Renee explains, “It made it so much easier because I had a really good support system around me and lots of people who could help me make things happen.”
In addition to the seamless transition with the company’s long-term employees, Renee was also able to carry on her father’s well-established relationship with Star. The Star representatives they had worked with since the company began, according to Renee, felt like a part of the family – and many of them had attended her father’s funeral. There was no question in her mind that Star was a partner she wanted on her side as she stepped in to the role of filling his shoes.
“Star has always been an asset to us. The metal building industry is such a part of who we are – and anybody who knows us knows Star. We just sort of go hand-in-hand,” says Renee, “We love that they have a lot of long-term employees, because that’s something we work really hard to attain at our company, too. Keeping employees for the long term makes it a great experience for your customer. It really makes it nice when you can talk to someone who knows the history of the job you’re working on and knows how you do business. You just can’t replace that.”
As Sargent Construction Company looks toward its 45th year in business, Star Building Systems looks back on a valued 45-year relationship. It began when a young entrepreneur named Don Sargent decided to stand apart in the industry and focus on metal buildings when few others saw the potential. Today, Renee continues the tradition of standing apart with her role as a female leader in a typically male-dominant industry. To everyone on the Sargent team from all of us at Star, we’re proud to have been standing right beside you all along.