Teresa Durand-Stuebben

'Huntress' seeks, nurtures new deals for Auld & White

  • By
  • | 12:00 p.m. October 23, 2014
Teresa Durand-Stuebben said she loves hunting for the clients that make Auld & White Constructors one of the area's top commercial contractors. Her passion paid off. Today Durand-Stuebben is the first woman to become an executive of a large Jackso...
Teresa Durand-Stuebben said she loves hunting for the clients that make Auld & White Constructors one of the area's top commercial contractors. Her passion paid off. Today Durand-Stuebben is the first woman to become an executive of a large Jackso...
  • Realty Builder
  • Share

By Carole Hawkins, [email protected]

When Teresa Durand-Stuebben realized she would be the first female to rise to an executive position in one of Jacksonville’s top 20 commercial construction companies, she didn’t believe it right away.

It was, after all, the construction industry, and it was Jacksonville, both known for their conservative ways.

Now, the new vice president for Auld & White Constructors says she feels the responsibility of breaking this particular glass ceiling.

“There are a lot of women in my age group in Jacksonville with proven talent and ability who are not really in positions of true influence or impact in their company. And they just say, ‘enough,’ and move on to something they feel more passionate about,” Durand-Stuebben said. “Well for me, I love what I do.”

Durand-Stuebben’s job is business development. In that role, she gets to be a “huntress,” the person who seeks out and nurtures the relationships that bring her company new business.

Her rise coincides with a shift in management structure for Auld & White.

Ed White and Steve Auld, president and senior vice president, respectively, plan to retire from the company they founded nearly three decades ago. They announced a three-year succession plan this summer that elevated Nathan Marty to CEO and Tim Conlan to COO.

Durand-Stuebben completes the third leg of the leadership trio.

The transformation from a top-down, president-led company to one headed by a group of chief executives creates a culture that’s more collaborative and allows corporate authority to more easily pass to a second generation.

Auld & White today commands a 70 to 80 percent market share of commercial construction projects in Jacksonville, by a count of building permits, according to Durand-Stuebben.

The company isn’t the kind of commercial contractor that builds the large, one-of-a-kind projects, like a Downtown courthouse. But rather, the one that constructs those buildings seen when driving through everyday commercial corridors — retail stores and restaurants, offices and headquarters, industrial warehouses and manufacturing facilities, medical offices, bank branches, schools and churches.

Durand-Stuebben’s goal is to pick up two to three new clients per year. In most companies, two or three sales aren’t much. But in commercial construction, where projects can pay $9 million and more at a time, it’s huge.

The job begins with research, to find which companies are expanding, those that align with Auld & White’s market focus, and those that are likely to become repeat customers.

Then the selling begins.

“It’s a courtship process,” Durand-Stuebben said. “You’re trying to get them to buy trust. You get them to believe in you.”

Once, she sat down with the CEO of a medical company that was expanding. He thought Auld & White did excellent work, but his business had always worked with another local contractor. Durand-Stuebben told him she didn’t want to replace the contractor.

“I said, ‘The reason why I value you is you’re loyal to your construction partner. You do not think of construction as just a commodity,’” she said.

She asked to be considered for any kind of work their primary contractor couldn’t fulfill. In a few weeks, Auld & White won a contract.

Durand-Stuebben knew she had a natural ability for selling since her teens and early 20s, when she worked retail sales for Rosenblums, a Jacksonville clothing store, and supported herself on straight commission.

She believes the talent developed because, when she was a child, her family moved so much. Her father worked for Southeast Toyota, now JM Family Enterprises, and growing up, Durand-Stuebben attended 18 different schools.

“As the new kid, I always had to meet people and tell my story,” she said.

The gypsy lifestyle didn’t suit her, though. She graduated high school in Jacksonville and, except for a short break, has lived here ever since.

She has worked 20 years on the business side of the construction industry, as a sales vendor to architects and contractors and then, as an administrator for her husband’s architectural firm.

That took her into the back office, handling negotiations with the health insurer, working with the IT provider, managing payroll and taxes and preparing contracts.

The job helped her understand the industry, but by 2009 she was tired of running an office. Auld & White’s business development director had recently left in a career move. Durand-Stuebben was ready to go hunting again.

Auld & White had always been spoken of very highly. But equally important to Durand-Stuebben, was the company’s focus on Jacksonville. She’d seen companies come to town and leave. She wanted a company that shared her commitment to Jacksonville.

“This is our home, this is our reputation,” Durand-Stuebben said. “You see the same people walk into our office here as you’ll see in line at the grocery store.”