Women own almost 1 million businesses in Texas, which is enjoying an economic boom unrivaled in the United States but could see progress curtailed as employers continue to struggle filling positions, State Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Thursday during a stop in Waco.
Hegar visited the campus of Neighborly, formerly The Dwyer Group, on his “Good for Texas Tour: Women in the Workforce Edition,” and recognized Lisa Zoellner, Neighborly’s chief strategy and marketing officer.
Founded in 1981 by the late Don Dwyer, Neighborly is a holding company for 21 franchising brands that provide repair and maintenance services for homes, including Mr. Rooter, Molly Maid, Mr. Electric and The Grounds Guys.
“Texas women hold about 45 percent of jobs in the business and professional services industry, which contributed nearly $180 billion to the Texas economy,” Hegar wrote in a press release on the Waco stop, referring to the industry that includes Neighborly.
All told, women hold 733,000 jobs in the professional and business services category, with a significant percentage working as accountants, auditors and office clerks, according to a comptroller’s office study. Taking a broader look at the role of women in the workplace, the study found that 51.3 percent of Texans with at least a bachelor’s degree are women; women hold 28 percent of top-level executive positions; and every dollar earned by a woman in Texas results in an estimated $2.05 in wages, salaries and other compensation.
“Neighborly is the visit on the tour that represents the business and industry sector,” comptroller’s office official August Anderson said. “And because this year’s tour is to focus on women in the workforce, it made sense to meet with Lisa Zoellner specifically,” considering her newly created position in a company enjoying more than $1 billion in annual sales among its 3,500 franchise owners in nine countries.
Zoellner previously served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Golfsmith International and held the same position with Gold’s Gym International before that, according to the press release.
During an interview after his presentation, Hegar said the state continues to enjoy double-digit increases in sales tax revenue each month, peaking at 14.7 percent in August compared to the same month last year.
The Texas economy created 390,000 jobs last year, and the statewide jobless rate has fallen to less than 4 percent, even though an estimated 1,100 people move to Texas daily, Hegar said.
The falling jobless rate has created labor shortages and difficulty filling positions, “which obviously could be a drag on the state economy,” he said.
Zoellner said franchisees are struggling to find skilled electricians, plumbers and other tradespeople.
The most pressing issue the Texas Legislature next will face is property tax reform and increasing discontent among property owners, Hegar said.
Also Thursday, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, a Republican whose district includes Waco, visited the Manitou North America plant on Imperial Drive. The plant produces about 1,500 forklifts each year for shipment worldwide.
“We’re targeting just under 2,000 units next year,” plant manager Martin Simard said. “We are very popular in Europe, ship a lot of product there.”
Flores reportedly accepted an invitation to visit the plant as part of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ “I Make America” campaign, which links elected officials with the 1.3 million people who manufacture equipment, according to a press release from Manitou and the association.
Simard said the plant is hiring and needs welders, assemblers, material suppliers and painters. Hourly pay ranges from $12 to $16, he said.