How Sarah Grew Her Storm Repair Company

Episode 63: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. Today, I am so excited to introduce you to Sarah Ahrendt, a former nurse, and now the owner of Ardmor Construction. Sarah has a passion for helping people, and now with her company she continues to do just that as a roofing & siding specialist; offering windows, gutters & storm damage services. Sarah walks us through her journey of starting and running her successful company, located in Minnesota.

Ready? Listen in…


•  I got a job and so I started doing sales for a restoration company and pretty quickly realized that this was actually something that I had an interest in, so I did that for a season. I took some training on some of the software in our industry, after that, I was like, Well, you’re doing the subcontracting thing, because he was a subcontractor and I’m like, You’re doing this subcontracting, and I really need to understand how the builds go together, so I want to work more one-on-one with you. And he was like, No, that’s like too, but I think in his head, he’s like, No, I don’t really think I want you really working with me. I think I want you to have a little distance. But he got a concussion, a pretty bad concussion, like black out for God, 10 minutes, and he couldn’t drive the truck and dump trailer that they needed to for the business. And he’s like, Can you go pick it up? Now, a little context, I was the girl growing up that no one would let drive any equipment because they deemed me a hazard. Okay? So warning. And he knew that, he knew that my family didn’t trust me with equipment. I had driven this trailer on a straight road back from Wisconsin, and I had never driven it, but I went and I picked it up and I got it home and everything was in one piece. (03:18)  

•  So I did a lot of things that people would necessarily do that you don’t need to do to start a general contracting company. I know a lot of people will start out of their basement, or we’ll just start doing sales the way that they are, we’ll just do whatever… They won’t necessarily do things the way that I chose to do things, we started off right away with the CRM, we started off right away buying iPads for sales guys, we started off… I had to make one of the early decisions, the one that I had to make early on was, are we going to go paper, are we going to go digital for all of our files, we went digital, because we just figured that that was more scalable. (08:26)

•  One of the things that I’ve started to transition to in the last year, because I’ve realized… I’m going to start venturing into other businesses, and this business is getting to the point where I’ve got the managers in place that I need, and then I will start venturing into other businesses. But in order for me to do that, I needed to outsource a lot of things. So, I’ve outsourced my email now, my email management. But if I have an employee who’s struggling, the number one thing I go to ask them, Can I see your inbox? Yes, right. And usually what’s happened is they don’t have a system for managing the stuff that gets in there, they don’t have a way of quickly and easily sorting through what’s important, what I need as a resource and what I don’t, and so that it all stays there. And the important things that they need to get to, they have no method for like getting back to them, so then they’re missing things because they’ve got 5000 things in their email. (12:54)

•  So, I think there’s a couple of things. One, I think you have to be willing to look at things from a different perspective than necessarily what other people are doing. Because what we have done in our company, I don’t know of a single company in the space that we’re in that is set up the way that we’re set up to. What’s the difference? So, we have our own… So many companies that work in our space have project managers that are the sales guys that also… So they’ll meet with the homeowner, they’ll meet with the insurance adjuster, they’ll write up the estimates to send to the insurance company, they’ll negotiate with the insurance company, they will do the material selection and they will be picking up materials at the end of the project and the check. What I have found was many of the people who are very good at selling are terrible at paperwork, and they are terrible with making sure that all of the pieces for production are handled well. So what that ends up resulting in for the home owner is, they don’t get someone who’s the best at what they do, just working on that part of that project. So when I realized that we have to have sales people, but I don’t think that they should be the ones who make material selections with homeowners. (18:30)


Sarah’s passion from an early age has been helping people. She grew up on a resort in Northern Minnesota where she learned the value of hard work and the importance of providing superior customer service. Her love of business was fueled by dinner table discussions where her parents openly discussed the inner workings of a small business.

After college with bachelors degree in Nursing from Augustana University in South Dakota Sarah worked at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and various other locations throughout the state, however, after struggling with the hours and burn out Sarah decided that a career change was necessary.

It didn’t take long for Sarah to realize she had found her dream job. In construction Sarah was able to combine all of her strengths and passions. She was able combine her hard work ethic, background in business and customer service skills from the resort with her critical thinking skills, ability to educate and compassion from nursing.


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