Meet Sharon Tankel of Hub Glass Services, Inc.
Sharon Tankel, president of Hub Glass Services, Inc., was too young to remember when her mother, Frances Carver Budd, took over the family glass business after her father’s untimely death at age 37. But, as years went on, she grew to admire that her mother had blazed a trail for her out of trying circumstances.
“She was a huge influence. She was tough on her employees but fair and very likable. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if I didn’t learn from her,” Tankel said.
History of the company
Founded in 1926 by Tankel’s grandfather, who used to knock on doors looking for anyone who needed a window fixed, Hub Glass Services, Inc. was one of the first companies in the Boston area to receive the women-owned businesses certification.
The Medford, Massachusetts-based company, which George Carver (Tankel’s father) owned between 1954 and 1964, specializes in glass and glazing. Following Carver’s death in 1964, Frances Carver Budd had no other way to support her family. Tankel said her mother thought that if she held onto the company, she could support her family and eventually pass the business on to her children.
Without any prior knowledge of the glass business, Tankel’s mother relied on her technicians regarding certain aspects of the work, such as labor estimates and installation details. Although Tankel says her mother didn’t experience much discrimination on the job, being a woman in the trades at that time wasn’t easy.
“Her name was Frances, so when people would call, and she greeted them over the phone, they would say, ‘Oh, I thought this was a man,’” Tankel says.
Tankel’s mother joined the joint trade board to negotiate contracts with the union yearly. She was the only woman to serve. “When they used to have board meetings, they would say, ‘Gentlemen and Frances,’” Tankel said.
Frances Carver Budd grew the company for ten years before handing her eldest son Richard the reins. Then her daughter Beth joined them to run the office. Richard served as president for many years and, together with Beth, grew the business. It wasn’t until Frances was in her 70s that she decided to hand it off to Tankel and her siblings. Today, Hub Glass Services, Inc. has over two dozen employees and is proud to have completed high-profile projects with the Prudential Tower, the Exchange Building, and the Federal Reserve Bank. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, they helped in the cleanup and repair effort.
Making the commitment to safety
The company also has a thriving safety culture, including a safety incentive program, quarterly safety meetings, and rigorous training for its workers. The company’s safety performance earned it Highwire’s Gold Safety Award—the only woman-owned glass company to do so in The Highwire Network.
Advice to women pursuing careers in construction
Tankel said she owes much of her success to her mother and siblings, who helped carve out a path for her in an industry where women have been vastly under-represented. Every year, when the union speaks to high school students about career opportunities in the construction industry, she gets to interact with other young women.
What advice does she give them?
“Get out in the field. Get on the trucks. Get familiar with the tools. Get out of your comfort zone,” Tankel said. “I wish I would have done this when I was younger. There’s nothing like being in the field and doing it.”