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Women @ Work: Connie Costner

Company: Mathand, Inc.
Location: Woodstock, GA
Title: President

CConnieonnie Costner is a living embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit. She came to Mathand, Inc. as a Business Manager after having starting and selling two previous business ventures. When the founder of the company retired in 2000, Costner purchased the company. “My experience was in business development and management, so my challenge was to learn the products and their applications,” she says. In 2009, Costner expanded by starting Material Handling Installers. “After many years of subcontracting installation services, the decision was made to start an installation service company to provide a turn-key process of design, supply and installation. This allowed us to have more quality control of the projects and scheduling while ensuring a seamless project for the customer.”

Earning Credibility
Material Handling has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. However, the biggest barrier to being accepted and respected in the industry has not come from being a woman. “Honestly, in 2000 when I came into the material handling industry, I think it might have been a refreshing change for the men to be working with a woman,” Costner says. “For me, the greatest challenge was learning the industry. You have to earn credibility just as you would in any industry. I am the type of person that likes to know everything about what I’m doing and become as knowledgeable as I can. When a vendor brings in a product binder, I read it from cover to cover. I’m a sponge and I love to learn.”

Embracing Change
Costner’s entrepreneurial personality and background in Accounting and Computer Information Systems have been some of her greatest assets in her career. “Data is very important to me,” she says. “Accounting has been very valuable as an owner. I don’t have to rely on others to interpret the numbers for me, I know the numbers. With a Computer Information Systems degree I also know what data to capture, how to analyze it, and consider how the information affects our business.” Costner also loves and thrives on change and technology. “Being an employee of one of my companies may be a challenge at times to keep up with me. I like to make use of technology to improve processes and I’m willing to spend the money on it. For others they may like to become comfortable in the job before more change happens.”

Measuring Success
“There’s a saying, ‘Happy Employees Equals Happy Customers.’ I measure success by my employees. My employees know I care about them personally. On reviews we ask employees what are your personal goals in life and how can we help you attain them? That might be buying a new house, buying a car, going back to school to get a degree, allowing time from the work day for a personal hobby, etc. If the employees are happy and feel the company takes their interest to heart then I believe the employees will take the customer’s best interest to heart. This is measurable success to me.”

Advice for Young Women
This year, MHEDA started the very first Women in Industry MHEDA-NET Group, after an outstanding Women in Business breakfast at the MHEDA Convention. “I am very excited to be one of the founding members of the Women in Industry MHEDA-NET Group. We currently have seven women engaged in our first group. There has been positive feedback from our first several teleconference calls. It feels good to surround ourselves with other like-minded women in the industry. I am benefitting from the strong community of women and their collective experiences in the material handling industry,” she says. For young women considering a career in the industry, Costner suggests learning everything she can about the area of the industry she hopes to become involved with. “Knowledge builds confidence. Seek out a mentor, such as a successful business woman, or look for one or two key women that can advise you. Learn from successful male counterparts in your business and watch and mirror traits that make them effective.”