First Job: Cashier at Carl’s Jr. at age 13
Mari Kurtz is a leader in the male-dominated industry of metal roofing and solar hardware, and her journey to success is inspiring. “I love working in the metal industry. Some women like shoes, clothes and jewelry … I love machinery!” she says. Kurtz had to drop out of high school to work two jobs and support herself, because her mother was in and out of jail. She married at the age of 20 and thought life was great until her husband took his own life. Shortly after, Kurtz discovered that his company, Cal Pac Sheet Metal, was in the red. She jumped in to learn the trade and successfully rebuilt the company and eventually opened another business, OC Metals. When the recession and housing meltdown hit and business halted, Kurtz invested her life savings into new manufacturing capabilities. The direction paid off, and she expanded her warehouse and showroom from 5,000 to 23,000 square feet. Kurtz’s companies have grown from about 100 local customers to more than 500 nationwide.
Her passion: Empowering women and educating teens.
20 WOMEN TO WATCH
Introduction by Executive Editor Steve Churm
Nancy W. Dahan ≈ Dr. Carol A. Taylor ≈ Mildred García, Ed.D.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D. ≈ Carrie Williams
Lisa Taylor ≈ Dr. Jody Agius Vallejo ≈ Shelley M. Hoss
Trinka Rowsell ≈ Deirdre Evans ≈ Dimetria A. Jackson
Ria Marie Carlson ≈ Tammie McMann Brailsford, RN
Donna Boston ≈ Margie Evashenk ≈ Dede Barbanti
Mari Kurtz ≈ Cozette Phifer Koerber
Sarah Reinertsen ≈ Sandra Bolton
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