Heather Ek – Changing outlook makes for more teamwork across the industry.
Heather Ek had a tough start to the adult part of her life when she became a teen mother of a boy.
She said she was determined, however, not to let that put her into the typical cycle of struggling to make a living.
She had a better plan for herself and her son.
“I was a teen mom with my son, so I always made it a goal to do the best I can to not be the statistic in life and provide him with the best possible life and not settle just because I was a teen mom,” she said.
Ek has lived up to that promise to herself and today holds an important position and director of purchasing for all plants at Coachmen.
She started her career at Puma as a purchasing assistant and has moved up in roles as she went along.
“I love the people that I meet (in the industry),” she said. “I’m a big people person. I love all the different types of people from the vendors to the purchasing teams I work with, my GMs, my boss, etc. I feel that I work with a really great team of people and that’s my favorite part of coming to work every day.”
As a successful young mom and professional woman, she said she sees it as a responsibility to continue that pattern as an example to other women looking to enter the industry.
“Being a woman, I feel like this role is a great opportunity at Coachmen and I feel blessed to be in the spot I’m in,” she said. “It’s very exciting to see the growth within Coachmen. We have several women here that hold very important roles for Coachmen. I really feel that Coachmen is stepping ahead and offering these great opportunities to many women.”
“With the growth we’re seeing in the industry, you can see it’s changing,” she continued. “The dynamic is changing in how we treat each other and vendors. There has been lot of growth over the past two years that has forced us to create a new normal. We now have to work together more as a team than we ever have before.”
That changing nature of the industry is important for any newcomer to understand, she said.
For people who are able to think through things and understand new concepts, it offers a world of possibilities.
“Take the time to get to know the people you are working with and the product you are working with.” Ek said. “Take the time to get to know your suppliers and anyone you would interact with as a daily part of your job. I feel like relationships in this industry make a night and day difference in our daily success. Make sure to ask the question, ‘why’. Why are we doing this and what is it doing for us? “
And for women who enter the industry under any circumstance, she said it is vital not to lose their self-confidence but to continue to do what they do best.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “You’ll feel times where you feel singled out. You may doubt yourself. But keep fighting. Do what your heart believes in and the growth will come with it.”