5 Questions with Debbie Bogar

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Debbie Bogar is well-known in the RIA as one very active member. She’s served in a variety of roles: as a former Restoration Affiliates (RA) President, RIA Board Member, and on the RIA Finance Committee. She is the CFO of Woodard Cleaning and Restoration in Saint Louis, Missouri, which was founded back in 1946.

1. As a member of the Finance Committee and RIA’s Director at Large, what, in your opinion, are the most
important things RIA has accomplished so far? What would you like to see happen in the future?

I believe that one of the most important things RIA has accomplished recently is the formation of the AGA – bringing our members and industry together with a focus on advocating and being a true voice for the contractors. This is imperative if we are to keep up with the changes on the carrier side of our work. Our members who don’t work directly with carriers can benefit from the position statements and education as well. This change in focus has been impressive, and it’s one of the main reasons I became interested in joining the Board.

  1. The year 2020 has been an enormous challenge for everyone, whether in the restoration business or not. What do you see in the restoration industry’s future and what do you think is most important for those in the field to be focusing on right now?

2020 is about keeping people safe and healthy! This is important for our own employees as well as for our customers. Our contractors need to have strong safety and risk management plans in place, covering more than just the coronavirus, and we need to keep communication lines open so that our employees know their safety and wellbeing is at the top of the list. We also need to be listening to the needs of our customers so that we can adapt and respond – disinfection services are the focus right now, of course, and we know how much that alone has changed since March!

  1. Who would you name as your most important mentors, and why?

My older stepbrother, Rick, was the first person who was a real mentor to me – he sat down with me when I was a teenager to help me map out a plan for college, talk about degree options, etc. I grew up in a small rural town where not many people went to college, so I didn’t really have any idea what steps needed to be taken or how I was going to pay for it. With his guidance, I chose accounting as a degree, and earned enough scholarships through high school to get me started. I was able to talk with him a few years ago about how much this meant to me – I was happy to be able to thank him. I also spent nearly 25 years working with Charlie Woodard before he retired at the end of 2016. I think I learned something from him every single day of those years – two lessons, in particular, were
about taking the emotion out of decisions and the value of continuous improvement, which he was all about!

  1. What have you seen as the biggest challenge in your career so far, and how did you overcome it?

I’m currently the CFO at Woodard, but when we were smaller, I also spent a few years as the Chief Operating Officer. I learned the operations side of the business as I went, and my biggest challenge came in 2009 when we started doing construction. Up until that time, we referred the construction work to another company. I had a key role in getting that team up and running, and I knew nothing about construction! To overcome it, as with just about any challenge, I drew on all my available resources – I listened to and learned from the experienced people we hired, and we have friends in the industry who got many phone calls from me!

  1. What resources or tools have you found to be the most valuable to you in your career?

As I mentioned earlier, our friends in the industry have been invaluable. These relationships have been forged through organizations like Restoration Affiliates, Business Networks, and even the conferences for the different TPAs we’ve worked with over the years. These people are all available for a phone call, but I’ve also had the opportunity to visit many other companies – with each visit, I was able to return home with at least one or two things that could help Woodard operate better. For personal development, my local Vistage group has been key. Through the wonderful speakers our Vistage chair hosted each month, I gained exposure to the different areas of business outside the financial world. I’ve learned so much from the other members of my group as well, who come from all different industries and have different roles within their companies. The issues we discussed in our monthly meetings were always opportunities to learn from others. RIA

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