Real Talk with Amparo Sancen: The Journey from Healthcare to Roof Care

By Karen L Edwards 07-27-2021
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Taking care of your health and your home are two of the most important ways to support ourselves and our families. Amparo Sancen understands this—and she excels at helping others do just that.

She grew up in Mexico watching her mom, who struggled with health issues, navigate medical appointments and doctor visits. This early exposure to the sometimes complicated medical world inspired Amparo to find a career that would allow her to help others. Healthcare was a natural fit, driving her to take a first-aid course when she was 13 years old. Once out of school, Amparo began studying nursing but then moved to Atlanta before she could complete those studies. There, she began working as a nursing assistant—until she learned more about the roofing industry, that is.

Getting Bit by the Roofing Bug

How does a nursing assistant like Amparo Sancen come to own a roofing company? Through friends, of course. Amparo said she met a lot of Latinos at the clinic who worked in construction. Through conversations with a close friend of hers, she began to grow curious about their work. After seeing some of the construction projects and meeting higher-ups within the industry, she recognized a new opportunity to provide for her children and continue helping others by caring for their homes.

"That was when I began to visualize myself [moving away] from what I had always loved to do," says Amparo. "I had begun to like construction, and I began to learn more. Once I was able to visualize myself with the lifestyle [that some of the construction professionals] had for themselves and their children, that was when I made the decision."

Finding Motivation and Overcoming Challenges

Amparo says that she's always been ambitious, but her daughters were the key motivation behind the switch to roofing.

"I wanted to give them a better lifestyle—to leave them a better future—and I think it was the best decision for me," recalls Amparo. "I didn't have a single hammer when I started. I didn't have anything, but I had many dreams and I wanted to learn."

It wasn't an easy transition, but Amparo was committed to making the change for her family. She took the necessary steps to start Sancen Contracting, register with the state, and print business cards. She wanted to feel fully committed to this new direction before leaving the healthcare field, and she says establishing the business gave her that sense of commitment.

When she submitted her resignation, the team at the clinic didn't want her to leave and even offered to pay her more. This just reassured her that she was making the right decision. It reinforced her commitment and dedication to whatever job was at hand—a trait that she has carried through into her roofing business.

That's not to say it was all smooth sailing for Amparo. She's faced challenges, particularly as a woman in a traditionally male industry.

"I started with the business 13 years ago and I had to dedicate myself 100%, because it was the only way to get ahead. I had no other option," says Amparo. "It was difficult [in the beginning] to knock on a door, for you to get to do a job where they saw you in the same way they saw a man."

While navigating these obstacles, Amparo has learned valuable lessons since starting her company. Perhaps the most important lesson has been that she can't do everything herself. She used to worry that something would go wrong if she wasn't there for every new project and delivery. She says she's learned to surround herself with a trusted team who can take ownership of different roles, allowing her to focus on managing and growing the business.

Following Big Dreams

When asked what advice she would give to others who may be thinking about making the transition to the roofing industry, Amparo stresses that the most important thing is to have faith.

"That's the most important thing: you have to have faith in what you believe in. Hold on to your faith . . . the most important thing is that we have to believe in ourselves and fight for our dreams," she says.

She advises that it's not always easy, and it requires discipline: "I think that little by little, you see the steps you take are increasing, but that is what is important—discipline and perseverance."

For anyone considering a career in roofing or looking to grow their business, GAF provides the resources roofing contractors need. With support from GAF, you have access to key tools and education to help you succeed in roofing.

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