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Q&A: What Was Your Path? – Kim Valentine-Langley

Kim Valentine-Langley owner, National Fiber and Copper

Kim Valentine-Langley owner, National Fiber and Copper

Kim Valentine-Langley owner, National Fiber and Copper

National Fiber and Copper is a woman owned, communications installation and service company that provides IT solutions to commercial businesses and governmental agencies.

Title:  Founder / President since 1999

Organization: National Fiber and Copper, Inc.

Family Details: Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania; Husband Andy Langley, Son Philip Tuzynski,

Stepdaughter Jessica Langley and the very proud owner of “Abbey,” 10-year old golden retriever

Education: Graduated Technical Memorial High School in Erie, Pennsylvania

Affiliations: An active member of the following:

  • WIPP (Women in Public Policy)
  • WIT (Women in Technology)
  • BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service International)
  • USWCC (United States Women’s Chamber of Commerce)
  • Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (Position currently Nominating Committee) 2 Year term
  • Brava Smart CEO (Position currently Nominating Committee) 2nd Year
  • WPO (Women Presidents’ Organization) Member past 5 years

Top Vacation Destination:  Caribbean. Favorite Island is Aruba.

Hobbies:  Cooking, gardening and entertaining family and friends at my home are my favorite things to do in my spare time.

When did you know that this was a career you were interested in? What drew you to this?

I was introduced to the technology field at a previous job. That role enabled me to be involved with clients who were in the construction field, which interested me. I became involved in providing cable solutions to clients and was encouraged to create a new business in information technology through an acquaintance.

What obstacles and challenges did you have to overcome?

Getting the right people in the right positions was key to success. Like many small-business startups, I had to manage the fear and uncertainty of starting a new business. There were many challenges that I faced, such as financial stability, attracting new customers, creating a web presence and hiring the right people. I realized I could not do everything myself and was going to need people with the right expertise to help me along this journey. That is still true to this day.

Were there detours that you had to make along the way?

Through careful planning, I was able to stay focused on my business plan for the past 16 years. Owning a business is a roller-coaster ride, with good times and lean times. There were times when I didn’t think I could sustain it any longer. That’s when I would re-evaluate my goals and adjust or add to my business plan. I believe that a daily commitment to both short term and long term goals will help meet those benchmarks and help move the company to the next level.

How have you juggled your career and your personal life?

I am on the go from the moment my feet hit the floor in the early morning! Every hour counts so that I can better manage my personal time. In the early years of my business, it was more difficult to manage my personal and professional life, between having a small child and still working a full-time job. However, now that my children are grown, I have more time to devote to my business and have better life balance.

My business is family operated. Both, my husband, Andy Langley, and my son, Philip Tuzynski, are part of the business and understand the importance of “working hard and playing as hard.” When business allows for us to get away, we do. On a day-to-day basis, I have a set time that I close the laptop and focus on my family. I do my best to stick to that rule, but when you own your own business, your responsibilities don’t always have a hard stop.

Have your goals changed through the years? At this stage of your career, what goals do you now have?

As my business grows and changes, so do my goals, with the exception of one — providing the greatest service to every client to deliver optimum results so that their organizations can thrive.

As I look back, my early goals seem small. But, reaching those small milestones have added up to where I am today.

Factors outside of your control may require you to change goals. When the economic downturn occurred, I had to change my goals and business strategy as a result of cuts in federal funding for contracting. I was not fully prepared for the impact on my business. I learned a hard lesson that all small businesses should learn early, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” or rely on just a few good clients. It is critical for sustainability that I grow my revenues by diversifying my company and attracting new clients in different industries. This goal is a key focus of mine today and going forward.

Another goal is to integrate new technology and to stay current in the information technology field today more than ever. With the ever-changing world of technology it is critical to provide my clients with current trends in technology infrastructure. By providing expertly trained technicians with innovative ideas this offers clients greater success with their network designs and implementations.

What role did mentoring play in your success?

Mentoring is an integrated part of my business plan. Mentoring relationships enable growth and offer methods and strategies to expand business ideas from different perspectives.

I recently completed theATHENAPowerLink program, which is a one-year women’s business mentoring program offered through PNC Bank. I was given access to a panel of local advisers who were selected for their expertise in areas that aligned with my specific business needs, including accounting, legal, human resources, marketing, information technology and finance.

My advisory panel helped me refine my business plan, streamline operational procedures, participate in new networking opportunities to help diversity my business and create a strategic marketing plan – all of which are key to the growth of my business. By the end of the program, I felt rejuvenated with a fresh focus on business and more confident and inspired.

What advice do you have for younger women in this field?

My advice to younger women in the information technology field is to be focused and strong. The IT forum has too few women leaders and we need to change that. It takes tenacity and the empowerment of each woman entering this field. Keep building, keep dreaming, keep working hard but always remember to take care of yourself.

Be passionate about your work and take responsibility for yourself and your employees. Surround yourself with great people. Your employees are an extension of yourself and a representation of your business, good or bad, make it right and exceed your goals.

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.

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