With the dedication, discipline and commitment to excellence like that of a competitive athlete, Donna Albani, Sales and Marketing Manager for SteamMaster Restoration and Cleaning, is the Jackie Joyner Kersey of the business world. There has been a determination to acquire the best technical knowledge in her work environment, an insistence that her clients have total confidence and can rely on her word, and this is something Albani works 24/7 to achieve. Like Joyner Kersey, Albani started, metaphorically, with the long jump and broadened her skills to include the entire heptathlon.
She enjoyed work even as a toddler. “My love is construction. My dad was a builder and I grew up on a construction site. When I was two years old, in order to keep me preoccupied, my job was to pick up all the nails on the site and when that was done my dad would have me separate the straight ones from the bent ones,” Albani laughed. “I love all facets of it (not nail sorting). It’s in my blood.”
Graduating with a bachelor of science degree in textiles and business from the University of Delaware, she married her senior year, and graduation was followed by moving six times in six years throughout the country. Landing in Houston in 1983 and assisting her husband’s raw material plastics company in an impressive growth from zero to millions of dollars. Albani would even write notes to remember poignant points on the way home from business parties to assist in establishing lasting relationships with clients. She had a very strong opinion that business is first and foremost about relationships, more precisely relationships that are trustworthy.
At the same time she was avidly supporting a growing business, she was starting her own interior design company, Sterling Design, having by this time also earned an American Society of Interior Design, ASID, degree.
During those years the family, now including sons, Ryan and Mark, would vacation in Vail every year. “We loved to ski, actually, we fell in love with all of it,” she recalled.
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In 1997 and now a single mom, Donna vacationed with friends in Vail where she met future husband, Joe. Three months later the couple married and Donna and sons moved to the Vail Valley blending two families that now included two daughters, Nicole and Crystal, along with Donna’s two boys. “So at the time we had children ages 16, 14, 12, and 11. It was a pretty crazy time but, like every other challenge in life, when you’ve weathered a storm, there’s a great reward at the end.”
Unable to sit on the business sidelines, through the year 2000 Albani worked as a building designer for a large local developer. She continued to maintain her own Sterling Design business but later added her own construction company as part of the package.
Through a quirk of fate, a remodeling project Albani had just completed caught fire and was deemed a total loss the day the certificate of occupancy was to be issued. As her clients viewed the wreckage, drinking the champagne Albani had brought for the original occasion, they admirably commented on how lovely her fireplace changes had turned out and how wonderful the redesigned kitchen fulfilled their wants. “Let’s get this insurance thing taken care of and get going again,” they relayed. Albani had no current experience in maneuvering the maze of insurance claims, however, the trust she had worked so hard to build with her clients carried over into unchartered territory. Her clients insisted she oversee the process. An advantage Albani possessed was she did know that when a home needs to be rebuilt there are many, many steps in the construction process. These steps must be duplicated to rebuild again and are often overlooked in the financial “fixing” process.
Fate played its hand again. The fire disaster was the first experience Albani had with SteamMaster. “There’s a soda blasting process that is used to eliminate the smoke residue and throughout the months we initially worked together, SteamMaster had the technical knowledge, professionalism, efficiently, delivered on time and budget, all the things I required of myself and other companies I bring to work with my clients. I can’t say it enough, business is about building trustworthy relationships, regardless of the field. Establishing trust is crucial in carrying out a successful project.”
In spring of 2005, Gary Gilman of SteamMaster, asked her to join his team and she gladly accepted. All the issues of the building and construction business appealed to her. Restoration was new and something that piqued her interest. “I am impressed by the fact that each and every person with SteamMaster is a certified technician in all of our restoration methods, be it stone care, fire, mold remediation, or water restoration. We have employee housing in our building so we have 24-hour service when an emergency hits. If someone has water pouring into their home they can’t wait. And they can trust us to be able to respond to their needs.”
Albani also appreciates the civic services in which SteamMaster participates and is involved in building those relationships as well. As a thank you to the community, every September SteamMaster goes into the valley’s fire stations, cleans them and serves lunch to the firemen and firewomen at the station. They partner with Habitat for Humanity cleaning new homes. And this September 23, 2005, a charity golf tournament will be sponsored by SteamMaster with benefits going to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center and Vail Valley Charitable Fund, in memory of Kim Matthews. Matthews was a much beloved co-worker.
Similar to an athlete, the process of achieving greatness is not all a glamorous climb. Those thousands of sit ups and miles around the track and throwing a javelin hundreds of times was what it took Jackie Joyner-Kersey to be first to the finish line, crowds cheering. Albani spent the other day scooting around in a tiny crawlspace under a home in the dark, in goopy water, with disgusting bugs, and we won’t even mention the possibility of snakes. Albani has most assuredly put in the training time in all facets of the home-business. She has paid her dues, educated herself appropriately, and has worked to be the winner at the finish line. Much like Joyner-Kersey, Albani has prepared herself not just in one area of expertise but in many areas. She has earned every accolade. Albani can be considered comparable to the heptathlon athlete, the athlete that excels in it all; she excels in many aspects of the home building arena. Albani is a true gold medal winner.