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Our conversation with Federated Service Solutions’ Jennifer Ferris

Our conversation with Federated Service Solutions’ Jennifer Ferris

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Jennifer R. Ferris, President, Federated Service Solutions

Federated Services’ first customer was a major department store, which eventually went on to be a Top 25, nationwide retailer. Since those early days, Federated has worked with more than half of the country’s Top 10 retailers. The driving force behind Federated Service, which specializes in network design and deployment, and customized IT infrastructure solutions, is Jennifer Ferris. Ask her and she will tell you that the harder the challenge, the more her team wants it.
Ferris started her career in high school working as a computer tech for a local real estate firm and the family business. She eventually started her own business in college doing networking and computer setup for small businesses. After spending some time at Ford Motor Company, she went back to work for her dad and began growing Federated Services in 2006. Today, serving as President and CEo, she is the majority owner.
We sat down with her to get her thoughts on the business today and how women continue to make strides in the commercial construction industry.
Give us a snapshot of the construction market today?
On the Low Voltage side, we are seeing things come back a bit. New construction work is starting up and remodel work is definitely happening again. Some work has been continuous throughout, primarily with the essential businesses on projects that infrastructure upgrades intended to expand coverage to better serve customers.
We have seen a lot of great people lose their positions as companies are shrinking up to conserve resources and adapt, but we are also seeing some of those same people get new positions in different industries still in construction.

As you are growing in this industry, remember that people will formulate opinions of you and judge you long before they know you. Know yourself and keep moving forward.

How did you get started in the industry? What is your story?
I started in Low Voltage when I was in high school working as a computer tech in a local real estate firm as well as in my father’s family of businesses. Once I was in college and realized that there was more money to be made on my own, I started a business doing networking and computer setup for small businesses. My degree was also in technology, but more on the project management and programming side of things.
Eventually, after working at Ford Motor Company, I went to work with my father again and began growing in Federated Service Solutions. I started running the company around 2008 and am now the majority owner.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the past few years?
We have seen a definite shift in priorities for our customers. A slowdown in growth, but a strong focus on a better customer experience in existing facilities. We do work with a lot of brick and mortar stores and they are obviously always looking for new ways to engage or draw in customers to the locations.
We had started to see some of the mobile infrastructure going pre-COVID to support curbside pickup and mobile checkouts, but it greatly accelerated once the pandemic hit. Infrastructure for solid network architecture has also been big, and we have been doing a lot of upgrades to ensure that the networks can support the density of clients in the facilities with a quality connection.
Name some of the opportunities available for women in the industry?
This is a good time for women in construction to focus on building some additional knowledge around the industry during any downtime. This allows stronger engagement and better forums for ideas in the workplace.
What challenges remain?
The shift in the job market and the uncertainty around COVID-19 is obviously the largest challenge that everyone is facing. Making sure to focus your efforts on enhancing your company’s offerings while creatively problem solving through some of the tough obstacles we face will go a long way for both you as an individual and for your team. Differentiating yourself by truly capitalizing on your best qualities is key right now.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Every problem is an opportunity.
What advice would you give women just entering the industry?
As you are growing in this industry, remember that people will formulate opinions about you and judge you long before they know you. Know yourself and keep moving forward, in time your passion will show them the truth about who you are and what you are about.
Plan. With all the uncertainty having a plan, and then a backup plan, and a backup plan to the backup plan proved to be one of the most important activities we did to ensure the company’s stability and success.
What is the biggest item on your to-do list?
The biggest item is growth in our target market, finding the right customers so that we can continue to build our business with a lean organization that can have big impact through standardized processes and great delivery.
What is the first thing you are going to do when everything gets back to normal?
Get on a plane. Traveling is the thing I miss most.

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