paid holidays and benefits. And we
function as a team. From the very
beginning, the best way for me to learn
the business was to go out on roofs
with my crew. For years, I divided my
time 50/50 between the field and the
office. In fact, several years ago, I spent
an entire year in the field, working
on an involved project. I was right
there next to my crew, pulling hoses
and doing detail work. I learned from
my crew, and they learned from me.
We gained so much as a company
from that experience – our quality,
productivity, and efficiency have
increased dramatically. I still go out
on high profile jobs, or on jobs where
safety is of more than normal concern.
I don’t ask my team to do anything
that I won’t do myself.
SFM: You run a very successful, woman-owned company in a male-dominated
industry. How has that shaped your
BS: In the beginning, nobody wanted
to talk to me about anything. Then, as
I educated myself about spray foam
and about roofing, more men would
Owner and President, Puff, Inc.
Both behind a desk and on a roof, Bonnie Strickler, Puff Inc.’s Owner and President, has seen the spray polyurethane industry evolve from a specialty niche to a major player in the construction market. She recently spoke with Spray Foam Magazine about her role as a leader in a changing, and challenging, industry.
A CONVERSATION WITH
BY JEN KRAMER
Spray Foam Magazine: What was your
path to becoming President and Owner of
Bonnie Strickler: I started working at
Puff with a job in the office. I had no
background in spray polyurethane foam.
No experience in roofing. I had just left
a job where I was “married” to my work
and wanted something easy – answering
phones, helping the office personnel.
But my personality never allows me to
rest and I started “fixing” things. I have
a background in production and I was
able to organize and streamline things
very easily. After I straightened out the
office and the administration, I worked
on the warehouse, and then the crew, and
as things improved, the owner started
coming in less and less. Eventually, in
1984, I purchased the business from him.
Puff has continued to expand ever since.
SFM: Puff is known for impeccable quality.
How do you create and maintain such a
BS: First, we don’t lay-off. Even though
our work is seasonal, we don’t view
our employees as seasonal. We offer (cont’d on the next page)
13 SPRAY FOAM MAGAZINE • MARCH/APRIL 2016
talk with me. Now everybody talks
with me, but it took 30-some years to
get here. I always say, you can have all
the knowledge in the world, but if you
don’t have confidence, you won’t make
it. As I was gaining knowledge, I was
confident I would make it. I also had
the help of some wonderful mentors. If
I had a question, I would call Clarence
Tolbert (NCFI) for advice on foam
or Jim Patterson (GE Silicone) and
Jerry Schienke (Futura) for advice
on coatings. I also attended SPFA
every year to meet with the industry
leaders and pick their brains. Irv and
Melvin Stumler and John Nolan were
instrumental in helping me. I have
always made it a point to introduce
myself to successful contractors, to
ask what works for them and what
doesn’t. That has helped to strengthen
my business and my knowledge base.
Now I hear, “Wow. You’re a woman in
a man’s world and you’re doing a pretty
good job at it.”
SFM: Beyond the challenge of gender,
what challenges do you find within your