Shop GirlsThe bright pink borders and the silhouette of a woman on the home page of www.ShopGirlSupply.com is just the beginning of the story.

The story is about a non-traditional kind of business, but that’s because owner and President Tammy Pabon, a non-traditional businesswoman.

“I have a unique story. I, like a lot of very young people, had no real direction back in the 1980s. Then I came upon a program through a school I was attending in New York called Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW). It’s an organization that trains women to do blue collar jobs, so I became a carpenter. And, I’m one hell of a carpenter! It was a really great program, and was one of the smartest and important decisions I ever made,” Pabon said.

NEW also trains women to be electricians, welders and plumbers, and it was the beginning of a wonderful journey for Pabon.

Never one to be content with where she is, it was while she was in the construction industry that she began looking beyond the job at hand to see what business opportunities might lie in wait. “It was then I decided that I wanted to work smarter, not harder,” she said.

Pabon moved to California, and took a job as a sales person. It was the most interesting job she had to that time. She found that she could be an effective salesperson and, within two years, Pabon became a sales manager then division manager for the company she worked for.

She just returned to New York in 2001, just in time for the September terrorist attacks, and in time for the economic downturn.

“The economy was taking a hit, so I thought it was time to pick up my tools again while deciding my next move, and bought myself time as an independent contractor. One day I’m thinking that I’m paying a lot for supplies, so there’s probably a lot of opportunity to use all of my skills and sell construction supplies,” she said.

So, the idea of Shop Girl Supply was born.

Using her knowledge of construction, welding and other trades, she put together a team of four “girls” she hired to sell products and supplies for the trades including welding.

“They are a dynamite team of girls. They got through my personal trade training and vendor training program that I developed. Additionally, a local boiler maintenance and construction company has helped us through some very exciting welding classes.

Learning welding has empowered Pabon’s sales tea.

“They finish (welding classes) with a big smile on their face because they just did a weld. It’s important for them to know what the end user will come up against on the job to sell the right equipment and supplies for the job,” she said.

Shop Girl Supply carries five lines including products for the electrical industry.

“The power industry was a conscious choice because New Jersey has about 157 power plants. One of Shop Girl Supply’s biggest customers is ConEd.

“In that industry there’s no one in competition with what Shop Girl Supply does,” Pabon said. “We keep our supplies and materials very specific - only five categories - because I believe that if you spread out too wide you lose a lot of the personal customerservice touch. We have a good niche and we know our stuff.”

Shop Girl Supply has been in business for 17 months.

“We’re being received without any guff from the guys. It’s okay to be beautiful and walk into a man’s industry,” Pabon said.

But being beautiful can’t beat excellent customer service, Pabon said.

Because of the personal service, including fast delivery, Shop Girl Supply does business primarily for companies in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. They are looking to expand their offerings into “green” products.

Shop Girl Supply is growing fast, and Pabon is currently seeking funding to buy a building to expand the warehouse and make it a community development project as well, providing training and jobs for local women.

Pabon’s commitment to women in blue collar job fields is evident: “My goal is to empower more women and put more jobs out there for them, and encourage women to enter the blue collar work force. With the shortage of welders it’s perfect for women,” she said.