Disaster recovery leader finds success in the details

Jaime Novinger-Toigo is president and owner of Service1st Restoration & Remodeling based in Lower Swatara Township, Dauphin County. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Jaime Novinger-Toigo knocks down walls every day.

For starters, she is president of Lower Swatara Township-based Service1st Restoration & Remodeling, a construction company she founded in 2005 that specializes in disaster recovery.

Being the owner of a company in a male-dominated industry, she also is breaking through remaining stereotypes and creating greater gender diversity.

Just 3.5 percent of U.S. women-owned firms in 2007 — the latest data available — were from the construction sector, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up from about 3.1 percent in the 2002 Economic Census.

“It is more important to understand how the industry works and to not be afraid to do things that you haven’t done before,” said Novinger-Toigo, who grew up around the construction industry.

Her father, Jim, is president of commercial construction firm Novinger Group Inc. The companies share a Lower Swatara Township facility in the Stoneridge Commerce Park.

Novinger-Toigo said she recognizes the fact she is in the minority in her field. It’s also something she doesn’t dwell on.

“I just don’t think it’s that glamorous that most women would be inspired to get involved,” she said.

Diversity is important, she said. Having people from different backgrounds adds value to a team and sparks business growth.

“It helped us grow this business,” she said, citing a mix of men and women on her team with various backgrounds in construction, cleaning and restoration.

Service1st has female estimators and production managers, as well as field staff. It doesn’t recruit based on gender. Ultimately, it still comes down to the best person for the position, Novinger-Toigo said.

Jason Scott
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com.

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