Ensuring Success in the Construction Industry, Meet Stephanie Beninati
Finding an enjoyable niche in construction can sometimes prove to be a challenge, especially if you are just starting out. However, Stephanie Beninati, the Owner and Broker of Strategic Insurance Services has found a way to enjoy the best of all the worlds she loves, in construction. Stephanie’s insurance firm specializes in construction insurance, while offering structural warranties and certificate management concierge programs. She has managed to find what she loves and turn it into something she thoroughly enjoys doing day in and day out. Having the opportunity to interview Stephanie to find out how she fell in love with the construction industry and how she has designed her own path has been just as exciting! We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Stephanie Beninati’s journey!
Can you talk a little about your own experience getting into the field — your education, early career and what brought you to where you are today? How did you get started in construction?
It started with my “Always show up” motto. In 2007, I went to a party I didn’t feel much like going to. I had the opportunity to meet a very special person who changed my life. This person introduced me to the homebuilding industry and I was hooked. I started selling 10-2 structural warranties for StrucSure Home Warranty and it was a natural progression into insurance.
What was it about the industry that made it right for you?
This is really a two-part question. What do I love about insurance and what do I love about construction that has inspired me to make this my specialty? I love insurance because I love helping people, especially small business owners. We are the backbone of this country and if I can help protect a business owners livelihood, if I can help them grow their business, then I am truly satisfied in my career. I love the construction industry because I believe in building communities, thoughtfully and responsibly. It is a remarkable thing to create a neighborhood that offers people a place to feel safe, where they can watch their children grow and build amazing relationships. That is the American Dream, and I am honored that I can contribute in some small way to that process.
How have you used partnerships within the industry to grow and succeed?
In 2008 I helped start The Construction Resource Group and I still sit on the Board of Directors. We are 20 small business owners that support the construction industry and our sole purpose is to help give-back to our community. We help each other grow our businesses through mutually beneficial alliances. From that, many of our CRG members have gone on to be successful in other areas. Our CRG members win industry awards, are recognized for their amazing contributions, start other groups and help other people with their journey. I like to think that CRG is an inspiration for them to build on their own success.
What are you most passionate about within the industry?
I am very passionate about helping people find their way into the industry whether it be through construction or insurance. I am also passionate about finding new ways to help our clients. For example, we saw our clients struggle, trying to get certificates of insurance from their subcontractors. They were also struggling with the 2-10 structural warranty products. They would get busy and forget to enroll homes. These are serious issues, so we created the SISCerts+ and SISWarranty+, concierge programs that help our builder clients manage through some of these issues. I am also passionate about helping my clients learn how to create and build a business that they can sell one day.
What difficulties have you faced during your career?
Deciding to start my own company was incredibly hard. Well, not the deciding, but the actual doing. There were a lot of people who were not on my side for a long time. Luckily, I focused on the people that were on my side and pushed forward. I had this strange feeling of confidence in what I was doing; I knew this was the right decision for me and I would not be deterred. Five years later, most of those people are my biggest champions and supporters. The other struggle was, I didn’t start my career in some large insurance agency learning from the ground up. I had to learn everything on my own. I had some help, but mostly it was trial and error. In the beginning, I constantly worried about how much I didn’t know, and unfortunately, I didn’t always know where to find the answers. Now, I am considered an expert in my field. I have been able to surround myself with brilliant people who supply me with knowledge on a variety of subjects, ranging from insurance products, construction defect issues, the economy, real estate, legislative actions and much more. I have a great network of very smart individuals who support and root for me on a regular basis.
What are your biggest strengths?
I am a big proponent of “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. Yes, I am normal, and I get afraid, but I have a way of pushing through it. Plus, I am an incredibly hard worker. I don’t give up, I don’t make excuses and I always take responsibility for myself and own my mistakes. I wouldn’t say I was always this way. In fact, I was quite the opposite. So, people can change…if they want.
Thoughts on the Advancement of Women in the Construction Industry
As many of the women Strategic Insurance Services has highlighted this week, Stephanie also believes women "can do anything [in this industry], even working on the jobsite. We are resilient and there isn’t any position we can’t do. Women in the industry need to bring the younger generation up, and we are. I was honored to have been asked to help start the Professional Women in Building through the Denver HBA. I stepped back a few years ago and although I am not directly responsible for its successful growth, I was instrumental in getting it off the ground. I was able to introduce a lot of amazing women to PWB. Groups like these, will continue to build a female coalition within the construction industry.”
Like any other business, you have to pay your dues. There is no “Crying in Construction”, or “Woe’s Me” attitude. If someone asks you to do something that you feel is “Grunt” work…that is probably because you are the “Grunt” and that’s OK. I’ve been the “Grunt” many of times. It’s not where you start, it’s where you end and your journey in between.
In the beginning you should try everything. See what you like, see where you fit, see what fits you. In the end, my advice is to be a specialist. In my business, I know how to do everything, because I did it for a very long time. That is called “paying your dues”. Now I work on projects I enjoy and am passionate about and delegate everything else. You can know the whole anatomy of your business, but it is good to be an expert in one or two areas, so you can spend your time doing what you enjoy,
For me, hosting events and bringing people together is what I truly enjoy. I also enjoy strategizing and helping my clients find ways to improve their business. The actual insurance is the vehicle I use to get to do all these other things.
At the end of the day, the construction industry can offer several options. If you like to be outside and enjoy physical work, you can work on a jobsite. If you have a head for finances and spreadsheets, you can be the CFO, if you like sales you can be the VP of sales and marketing. There is a position for every single personality type and skillset waiting for you in the home building industry. Don’t let preconceived ideas stop you from enjoy an amazing career in this ever-growing industry.