No glass ceiling here. The No. 1 woman on Profit Magazine and Chatelaine’s list of top female entrepreneurs for 2013 runs a thriving construction company in Kelowna, B.C., that earns annual revenues of $25 to $50 million.
Kelsey Ramsden heads up the Profit/Chatelaine W100 list for the second consecutive year. Ramsden’s company, Belvedere Place Development Ltd., has experienced three-year growth of 192 per cent.
The firm employs 158 people and specializes in large infrastructure projects.
The Profit/Chatelaine W100 is in its 15th year and ranks female entrepreneurs by a composite score that considers the size, growth rate and profitability of the companies they own and manage.
Other female developers
Nor is Ramsden the only woman in the construction and development industries to show up on the top-100 list.
No. 56 is Tamara Barker-Watson, CEO of Halifax’s Whitestone Developments Ltd. The company, which builds and renovates energy-efficient homes, has three-year growth of 17 per cent and annual revenues of between $10-15 million.
Whitestone’s homes employ the R-2000 standard for energy efficiency, indoor air quality and environmental responsibility. According to the builder, most new home construction is made with an EnerGuide rating of 68; all R-2000 homes must meet a standard of at least 80.
The company incorporates passive solar design into its homes, employs local materials, recycles discarded waste and uses low toxicity finishes, among other practices. The company is currently building in four different sub-divisions.
Ranked at No. 75 are Lara Murphy and Karen Ryan, co-owners of Ryan/Murphy Construction Inc. The Calgary company, which acts as general contractors for commercial, residential and retail construction, showed three-year growth of 502 per cent and booked annual revenues of $1 to $2 million.
The firm’s commercial work ranges from new construction and tenant improvements to retail rebuilds and building maintenance. Clients include Rogers, Dairy Queen and Fido. The company also builds multi-family units.
Private sector work shifted Ramsden’s fortunes
In a profile of Ramsden, Profit Magazine shows a driven woman who survived cervical cancer and not only continued to run her own construction firm, but also two concurrent ventures. She also runs a start-up management consultancy business and an educational toy subscription service.
A profile in Profit from 2012 said she grew up working for her father’s construction firm and that her first job in the industry was as a flag turner on the Alaska Highway. According to that article, Ramsden’s firm derived all its revenue from government contracts prior to the 2008 global recession. But overnight, the recession pushed many developers into bankruptcy.
“The earth-moving companies that helped these developers build sub-divisions started chasing government work to fill the gap – killing the margins on public-sector contracts,” the magazine reported.
By switching direction and moving into private-sector projects, Belvedere not only fended off bankruptcy, but according to the profile, infused the company “with a combination of size, sales growth and profitability that has ranked her No. 1 on the 2012 Profit/Chatelaine W100 list of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.”