The Power of a Self-Grown Businesswoman

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By: Carter Fisher

Editor: Katie Williams and Oliver Hackett

For many, growing up in poverty is something that will plague someone’s life from the very beginning. To others it is an opportunity to do greater things. Heather Fudge sits in her office at Fudge Business Forms where she and her husband co-own a family printing business. The many things that she has learned through family and workplace experiences has turned her into a motivated and confident businesswoman.

CF: Who are the people who have most influenced your life and how have they affected you?

Fudge: My parents because they have always instilled hard work into my mind and the mentality of striving for accomplishments. My dad worked three jobs at the same time when I was very young so my mom could take care of us kids to keep the family afloat. My dad used to say, “If you aren’t ten minutes, early, you’re late” and to this day I have to show up everywhere a little bit early or else I feel like I’m running late.

CF: How has the socio-political and economic environment around where you have grown up affected you?

Fudge: Neither of my parents went to college and my father was a skilled labor professional. In the 70s there were not many job opportunities, and the economy was not great at the time. My parent’s first home loan had a 17.5% interest rate and shortly after this they unexpectedly had me. During this time my parents obviously struggled really hard and on events like Christmas could only give us one gift under the tree. This really bothered my dad. He was only 20 at the time and he changed his life to be dedicated completely towards working to provide for his family. It showed me that age has no effect on how much work you put in. It’s all a mentality.

Dwight and Marilyn Webb on their wedding day at age 19.

CF: What was life like growing up in the area that you lived in and is it any different now?

Fudge: For most of my life I have lived in the Utica and Rochester area, so I have always had a feeling of home and comfort. When I was a kid my dad struggled finding jobs that were close to home and often had to go into Detroit to access good work. With all the opportunities and businesses in the area that began to develop by the time I was old enough to work I had many opportunities to experiment working in many fields. I have learned so much by working in multiple industries in sales and I credit a lot of this to the Metro Detroit area’s job availability.

CF: What are the experiences that have most influenced you and why?

Fudge: Growing up we did not have a lot even though both parents had jobs and side jobs to give me and my younger brother a good life. It taught me the value of hard work and being able to enjoy the things that I work for. Along with that, my experiences that I learned while doing college internships at places like The Palace of Auburn Hills and Disney World taught me valuable team and workplace skills that I still apply to my everyday ethics.

CF: What are some ways in which you have asserted your rights in the workplace?

Fudge: I had a very difficult department manager at one of my longest jobs in the corporate world. He was blatantly sexist and spoke crudely to women around the office. He tried to stall my career growth purely based on the fact that I had taken a position that was a step down at one point during my time with the company due to a personal situation. I was a top performer in my department and he tried to make me sign documentation during my annual review stating that I agreed that I would never be promoted again.

When a job promotion opportunity came up in another department later that year I met with the president of our office to discuss my eligibility and he advised that the prior manager was wrong and told me I had every opportunity to apply. As a result, I was able to apply and got the job. I was then promoted three times in two years, due to my hard work and credentials. 

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