Women in Business: Letitia Hanke-Ryzhkov, CEO and president, ARS Roofing, Gutters & Waterproofing, Santa Rosa

Letitia Hanke-Ryzhkov

CEO and president, ARS Roofing, Gutters & Waterproofing

3327 McMaude Pl., Santa Rosa 95407; 707-521-2104; arsroofing.com

Age: 39

Residence: Santa Rosa

Professional background: I have been in the industry for 19 years, 11 as CEO of ARS and eight managing a roofing company.

Education: Four years at Sonoma State University, studying music performing and recording arts.

Staff: 18

Tell us about yourself and your company: A small-town girl from Hidden Valley Lake, I grew up dreaming of a music career. Recognized from childhood for my lovely singing voice and other musical talents, I attended Sonoma State University, envisioning a future in the performing and recording arts.

When the opportunity arose, I took a position at a prominent roofing company and managed the business for eight years. In 2004, I started my own roofing company, Alternative Roofing Solutions, Inc., and Sonoma/Napa/Marin Seamless Gutters, now both known as ARS Roofing, Gutters & Waterproofing. 2015 marked 11 years in business and 19 years in the industry. I currently employ 16 full-time employees servicing most of the North Bay.

ARS specializes in commercial and residential roofing, particularly HOA communities, apartment and condominium complexes and industrial and commercial buildings. The company provides round-the-clock emergency repair service and guarantees its work. Since 2012, ARS donates 1 percent of every reroof and gutter replacement to the school or college of the client’s choice.

This program was started in hopes to alleviate some of the burden that our schools face with budget cuts. ARS donations can help allow schools to continue their music and performing arts programs or buy school supplies that are needed.

Fortunately, after years of being bullied in elementary school, I took to music as a way to boost my self-esteem. Performing music in elementary, middle and high school kept me out of trouble. It truly allowed me to excel in school as well. This motivated me to start a 501c3 nonprofit, The Lime Foundation (TheLimeFoundation.org).

Accomplishments include receiving a 2014 Business of the Year award from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and a 2008 Spirit of Sonoma honor. Currently, I am president of the North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce, which serves Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, and vice president of the California Black Council of Chambers, which encompasses 19 black chambers throughout California.

I pride myself on creating a calm and relaxing experience when working with the company from the moment of the estimate to the end of the job. Without the hard work, strong ethics and passion of her employees, there would be no ARS. I strive every day to provide exceptional customer service by treating my clients’ property as I would treat my own - with pride. It is imperative that ARS continues to excel in the industry by providing trust, reliability, communication and follow-through and, most of all, keeping you safe and dry.

Words that best describe you: Motivated, tenacious, inspiring, joyful.

What is a major accomplishment in the past year or so?:The Lime Foundation is my biggest achievement, because it encompasses everything in my life. I am able to train young men and women in the construction industry and provide reduced or free construction for veterans, underserved communities and the elderly. I am also able to help young people battle depression, bullying and hopefully prevent drug or alcohol addiction, teen pregnancy and suicide through my music and performing arts program by allowing these kids to have a positive outlet. And lastly, my senior activities program will aid in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis by helping seniors be more active through bowling, hiking and nutrition classes.

What is your biggest challenge today?: Workers’ comp!

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: As more young women decide that they don’t want to be doctors or lawyers, they will start to move over to the construction.

As a successful female professional, what have been the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: I’ve experience both sexism and racism, and I’ve had to keep holding my head up. I overcame it by saying, “I don’t need those people as clients.”

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Stay strong. There is a lot of support out there for women in construction. Surround yourself with those people to keep you motivated and determined.

Current reading: The Answer.

Stress-relievers: Massage and traveling to the ocean.

Favorite hobbies: Traveling, relaxing at the ocean, bowling, playing piano, writing music, bowling, camping, hanging with my son and family, cooking and watching sci-fi movies.

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