Jackie of all trades - Women in Hardware

Augusta Tools & Welding

Jackie Luis, general mananger of Augusta Tools and Welding, is holding her own in a male-dominated industry. She tells DIY Trade & Industrial News how she’s forged her way to the top of a career she loves.

Jackie Luis, general mananger of Augusta Tools and Welding, is holding her own in a male-dominated industry. She tells DIY Trade & Industrial News how she’s forged her way to the top of a career she loves.
Jackie Luis, general mananger of Augusta Tools and Welding

// Being able to come to work each day and spend the day with my dad has really made all the difference //

It’s a fact – the hardware industry is still mostly run by men. But women are increasingly starting to make their mark, showing that maybe it’s not such a boy’s club after all. One of the women whose star is on the rise is Jackie Luis. Born in the South of Johannesburg, Jackie attended Meredale Primary School and went on to matriculate from Mondeor High School in 2001. In 2014, she married the love of her life, Marco, and they have a gorgeous six-year-old son, Diego, who is currently in Grade R at St Benedict’s.

WHAT MADE YOU JOIN A PREDOMINANTLY MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY?
My dad was already in the tool business, and he believed that with his guidance and encouragement I had the opportunity to do well, in spite of it being a male dominated industry. My introduction to hardware was when I joined Major Tech. After a good four years there, I felt the urge to join my dad at Augusta Tools, which I did in 2009. I’ve never looked back.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN IN THE HARDWARE INDUSTRY?
I think being a woman in the hardware industry is the same as being in any other industry. Of course, there is the perception that working with tools and hardware comes more naturally to men than to women, but I have always believed anything is possible if you put your mind to it. A good attitude in any industry is to your advantage. Knowledge and skills can be acquired and learnt.

HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED?
Hard work, training and learning all the time to be able to go out there well-equipped with the right tools to sell the right tools. I have so many notebooks from when I started in the business. I still laugh at one of the notes that I made many years ago: “What is a drill bit?”

DO YOU FIND YOURSELF STEREOTYPED?No, I can’t say that I do. As we meet people and do business together, people get to know who you are by the way you portray yourself, and you earn respect for the individual that you are.

ARE YOU SEEING MORE WOMEN ENTERING THE INDUSTRY AND IF SO, WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS?
I think men do still dominate this industry. Ironically in our company, the women outnumber the men, which is awesome! I think women just add a touch of ‘ je ne sais quoi’ to the business.

HOW HAS YOUR CAREER AT AUGUSTA TOOLS PROGRESSED?
My career has flourished in the last couple of years. I started at Augusta in my 20s and I’ll be turning 40 in two weeks’ time! As I reflect on the past 15 or so years I can’t believe where I started and where I am now. It’s been like a whirlwind romance!

PLEASE SHARE YOUR CAREER HIGHS AND LOWS.
To be honest, there are very few lows. Covid was a huge downer for us all which we’ve now hopefully overcome. My high would have to be working alongside my dad for all these years. Working is one thing, but being able to come to work each day and spend the day with my dad has really made all the difference. Sharing ideas, laughing together and crying together have all been such a blessing.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
We’ve recently merged our two companies, Augusta Tool Suppliers and Smarter Welding Africa, and re-emerged as Augusta Tools and Welding. It’s exciting times for us. Despite the current economic challenges, we continue to grow.

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