Jill Frey, owner and president of Cummins Facility Services, grew up in the facility management industry, as her parents were the original founders of the business in 1972. She worked for the company during her summer breaks from college. “I was on the van route that would service landline telephone substations,” she recalled.
After Frey graduated from Ohio’s University of Toledo in 1994 with a degree in communications, her parents went on a trip to Honduras then decided not to return home. They retired and left the company to their daughter. “When they left I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work quickly,” she said. “I later asked my dad why he didn’t train me first. He said, ‘Jill, you had to learn this on your own.’”
As a young woman starting out in the industry, Frey said her biggest challenge was proving her worth to her clients and employees. She did this by getting personally involved with the company’s day-to-day activities instead of leaving it all to the employees, and by hiring professionals to help her with the budgeting. “The nice thing about my hard work is people saw I wasn’t just handed the company; I had to work to make it succeed,” she said. “I had to make sure I was making money every month.”
Frey found her communications degree and can-do attitude well prepared her for motivating her employees and marketing the company. Under her management, Cummins grew from a one-office company in Marion, OH, with 15 employees to a company with more than 800 employees servicing clients in 18 states.
Frey also credits her success to her numerous mentors from throughout the years. “I think it’s really important to get involved in your trade association, so you can meet people in your industry, gain mentors, and grow with them,” she said. “Some of my favorite people are in this industry. Some of us may be competitors, but we’re still friends.”
How she elevates other women in the industry:
In return for the help she received through her career, Frey helps fund counselors who provide a mentoring service for teenage girls called Ruling Our Experiences (ROX). “The counselors in ROX have weekly meetings with girls to teach them self-defense, how to take care of themselves, respect their bodies, and get what they want out of life,” Frey said. “Girls at this age are very moldable and many lack self-confidence. If we don’t reach them at an early age, they will feel this way throughout their lives.”
Learn how other women in the industry are proving they belong at the top, just like Frey.