Each year Restoration & Remediation Magazine has the honor to formally celebrate women making strides within their organizations, and restoration overall for what is now the eighth consecutive year through our Women in Restoration Award. The award honors leading women in the industry based on journey and experience, job growth and future reach, industry and community involvement, and awards and certifications.
This year, like those nominated in past WIR award elections, were outstanding women and one remarkable nominee rose to the top.
Meet 2023 Women in Restoration Award Winner Debbie Bogar
Debbie Bogar is the CFO of Woodard Cleaning and Restoration in Saint Louis, Missouri, which was founded back in 1946. Debbie began her career in the restoration and cleaning industry right out of college in 1993. Eager to begin her work as an accountant, once Debbie joined Woodard she quickly became known for her tremendous work ethic and straightforward approach.
Since obtaining her position of CFO at Woodard, Debbie has helped guide the company to become a standard name in the restoration business, not only in the St. Louis region, but also by serving on the Restoration Affiliates (RA) and Restoration Industry Association Boards (RIA).
Her key accomplishments include:
- Restoration Affiliates (RA) of Directors - 1 year
- Restoration Affiliates (RA) President - 2 years
- Restoration Industry Association (RIA) and Restoration Affiliates (RA) Board of Directors Treasurer- Present
As RA President, Debbie worked with the Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan for affiliates to share resources, relationships, and support. Furthermore, Debbie leads the organization as an advocate for quality, accountability, and excellence. Currently, Debbie still serves on the RA Board of Directors as Treasurer and continues to be a key part of the organization's success.
With these skills, Debbie has built lasting relationships and has paved a path not only for women in the industry, but everyone she has encountered.
Watch Debbie’s Ask the Expert interview for her full story.
Company and Industry Contributions
For 29 years Debbie has not only been a leader, but a visionary for Woodard. She implemented the company’s initial software for accounting, carpet cleaning project management and restoration project management. From there Debbie continued to introduce new innovative software as it was available, keeping the company up to date with technology to stay efficient and effective providing the best experience for employees and support for customers.
Debbie helped create Woodard’s first budget and has led the process of budgeting and planning for the financial success of the company for her tenure there. Debbie’s focus on forecasting has allowed Woodard to be one of the few restoration companies that is able to successfully and accurately forecast expenses and revenue.
When Woodard started a reconstruction service line, Debbie created the initial systems and processes to obtain this new branch of the company. Debbie’s contributions extend to the logistical aspects of the business as well, as she has designed two iterations of Woodard’s content cleaning center and traveled around the country to gather best practices before designing them into the facility. Debbie has organized the logistics and deployment of surges of water-damage related work, while always focusing on the customer and how to maximize projects to continue serving more customers.
Do what’s right, Serve Others and Learn Every Day
Debbie is known nationwide for her involvement and leadership at Woodard, RA and RIA. Not only is she dedicated to Woodard’s success as a company, but she’s loyal and dedicated to the restoration, remediation and cleaning industry and passionate about seeing it evolve even more in the future. In order to ensure the success and forward motion of the industry, Debbie always looks for way to connect with other individuals and companies, as she has been called “a natural connector” which is very important and useful in the industry. Debbie brings together networks and companies that help each other grow and become stronger leaders in their area.
“When two companies come together from different areas, the guidance, knowledge, and skills each bring are pertinent to growing each company individually and collectively.”
– Debbie Bogar
From connecting others to getting her hands dirty, Debbie is always looking for innovative ways to move the industry forward. Additionally, her experience over the years in accounting and operations has allowed her to view scenarios through a lens that could be different than most. Whether it’s traveling out of town to rectify large losses, starting a new division or even designing a new center at her company, Debbie’s passion for the industry and its continued growth is unmatched.
Debbie’s Personal Life
Being in a male-dominated industry is nothing new to Debbie who lives in a male-dominated household which includes her husband and three sons. Debbie also grew up with 3 brothers and 3 step-brothers. “They were my friends and my playmates,” says Debbie. She says that one of her 2 dogs is a girl and that’s the only other female energy in the house, and it’s them against the boys.
Debbie says her husband, sons and 2 dogs are the heart of her free time. She says that she and her husband are “empty nesters” now so she’s picked up a few hobbies so that she doesn’t get bored. Her sons were all in wrestling, and she and her husband still help with tournaments through the season for little league, their high school and college.
Debbie has taken up golf lessons, pottery and photography, and enjoys traveling with her husband and their 2 dogs in their camper.
Debbie’s Advice to Fellow Women in Restoration
“Learning to navigate and motivate in the space you’re in is key, as well as continuing to grow, learn and change.” Something that Debbie has continued to do throughout her 30 years in the Restoration, Remediation and Cleaning industry, and in her personal life.
“Be humble enough to learn the industry first, don’t assume you know more than others. Be genuine. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.” Debbie says, one of the mantras she’s lived by over the years is “Don’t do things halfway.” If something is worth doing, it’s worth giving the right amount of effort.
Women in Restoration Archives
1st Runner up
Regional Vice President, ATI Restoration LLC.
Nancy joined ATI in 2019 and quickly rose to the occasion to help ATI achieve its single largest increase in revenue for the next two years. During her tenure of more than three years at ATI, Nancy has made some amazing achievements. In addition to playing an essential role in several of ATI’s acquisitions, she set an example for women across ATI by becoming the company’s first female Regional Manager, first female Regional Director, and first female Regional Vice President.
In addition to striving for excellence in all she does at ATI, Nancy has also engaged in volunteer work for veterans and military families in her spare time. As a previous Director of Operations at Healing Road Foundation, Nancy committed herself for years to the re-integration of military veterans back into the lives of their families through incredible, life-changing, outdoor experiences. “My volunteer position was very important to me,” Nancy said. “It allowed me time in the great outdoors, as well as being lucky enough to participate in the ‘magic’ that is a veteran reconnecting with their children. There’s nothing as rewarding!” Nancy also currently serves as a guide for the North Texas Patriot Anglers, taking retired and serving veterans fishing to help them emotionally through connecting with nature.
2nd Runner up
CEO and Founder of Spaulding Decon
Laura Spaulding gained first-hand knowledge of what it means to work at a crime scene when she worked as a police officer. The families of victims are under severe emotional distress and usually they are left to clean up the scene themselves. Spaulding was shocked to learn there wasn’t a service available to help clean up – so she decided to do something about it. In 2005 she started her business, Spaulding Decon, which specializes in cleaning up homicides, suicides, accidents and unattended deaths. For the first year in business, she was a one-woman show. By her second year she began to hire employees and expanded into cleaning up meth labs and hoarding. Today the Tampa, Florida-based entrepreneur runs a multimillion-dollar company, which she says is the first nationally franchised decontamination service to offer crime scene cleanup in the U.S.
Meet our Judges
Owner of Firehouse Education and Mobile Cleaning Systems
Anissa Coy is the owner of Firehouse Education and Mobile Cleaning Systems, Annissa is a 23 year veteran of the restoration industry as we know from her educational “Ask Annissa” videos which can be seen on the R&R website. Annissa was the inaugural recipient of the women in restoration award in 2016 and was also awarded the 2008 ambassador to the industry from Piranha marketing. She is an international trainer, author, speaker and coach.
Sales Consultant at BNP Media for The Experience
Jennifer Wilkinson received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Colorado State University. During her time at Colorado State, she studied social work, adult case management and child development.
From 2000 to 2004, Jennifer worked at treatment centers for youth who have behavioral, emotional, and trauma-induced problems. She provided counseling with the use of positive reinforcement, processing, and defining goals for children who had been verbally, physically, and sexually abused. She was the leader of process groups with children and was involved with treatment plan reviews for individual children. She also provided services as a substitute teacher.
Jennifer joined the staff of Meetings and Events as an administrative assistant in 2004 and began working with the vendors and sponsors of the Connections Events shortly thereafter. In 2012, Meetings and Events open The Experience Events where Jennifer became the event manager for The Experience until 2022. In 2023, The Experience Events sold to BNP Media, where Jennifer currently works as an Independent Contactor assisting with booth and sponsorship sales.
COO and Co-Owner of both Restoration Technical Institute and Berks Fire and Water Restorations, Inc.
Lisa Lavender holds a BS in accounting from Penn State and is an IICRC Master Fire, Water and Textile Restorer. As chief operating officer and co-owner of both Restoration Technical Institute and Berks ∙ Fire ∙ Water Restorations, Inc., founded in 2000, Lavender has over 20 years of experience in the restoration and reconstruction industry, and has a passion for training and working with other service providers. In 2012, she opened the Restoration Technical Institute in pursuit of helping others find joy and success in the industry. In 2018, has expanded her passion for serving other contractors by partnering and becoming VP of Operations Design for iRestore software. In addition to contributing to the running of the operations of her organizations, she authors a monthly column for R&R, Restoring Success, writes, instructs and develops courses and materials in the pursuit of her passion to give knowledge, passion, and inspiration to others for success in the industry. You can reach her at lisa@RTILearning.com.
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