April Mize Davis said growing up in Holtville gave her the tools to succeed in the construction business which typically attracts more males than females.
“Being from a small town, you have to learn how to speak your mind and have a voice,” Davis said. “Me being young, when I first started working I was not well respected at all, especially being a woman.”
Davis, a 1999 graduate of Holtville, attended the University of Alabama and began working at McKee and Associates where she was tasked with designing buildings.
She said even though she had the knowledge and skills to do the job, it was still a challenge.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated field is challenging just to get the respect,” she said. “It was just one of those things that just took time.”
During her time at the Montgomery architecture and interior design firm she had the chance to work on plans for her alma mater.
“I actually worked on all the renovations at the Holtville schools the last 15 years,” she said. “I even designed the auditorium. It’s crazy to work on the school I used to go to as a student.”
Now Davis runs her own company, ADS Design Solutions LLC, which is a multimillion dollar business she started seven years ago with $7,000.
“Some clients I work with include Algeria bank,” she said. “Their headquarters is in New Orleans. I go all over the U.S. with them. Kimber Manufacturing is another client I have worked with. I just started landing these big corporate-type jobs. It did not matter to them I was from a small town or was a smaller firm. They saw my potential.”
Davis is a member of Women in Business which is a professional organization of women business owners.
She said the application process is rather lengthy.
“It’s a real honor of recognition to be admitted,” she said. “There are not many of us members. Just because you’re a woman you do not get the title, by no means. There is a lot to being accepted.”
The story of how she grew her business in a male-dominated industry caught the eye of a publisher who reached out to Davis.
“Honestly, I was shocked,” she said. “I got an email first. Then the publisher asked me to call her. The publisher knew all about me. I don’t do social media and I’m a very private person. I knew exactly who she talked to. It was the guy who heard my story when I applied for the organization.”
Davis and 13 other businesswomen have a best-selling book.
“Women in Business — Leading the Way” features conversations with Davis and other women who have experienced success in the business world.
Davis said the book gives readers insight how she and the other women deal with career transitions and challenges, how to balance business and personal life, and how to reach out for support and get help sooner rather than later.
“It is an honor to represent women as an entrepreneur and leader in my field of design and construction, where men are considered the leaders in this industry,” she said. “It is important that women can be powerful and have an impact especially in a male-dominated field such as construction.”
As a result of Davis’ success, she said she will offer scholarships to two Holtville seniors in the Class of 2021 who pursue a major related to building construction, engineering, design or architecture and who have strong backgrounds in math.
“I am not sure of the amounts yet,” she said. “I am waiting to see how much money the book makes. More information will be handed out at the high school to seniors sometime during the 2020-2021 school year.”
While scholarship details are not determined yet, Davis said she is excited to work with her former math teacher Cathy Billings to award these scholarships.
Billings recently retired from teaching in 2018 and was a graduate of Holtville in 1980.
Davis said Billings had the biggest impact on her as a student.
“She has an amazing gift when it comes to educating and it was an absolute pleasure to learn from her,” Davis said. “She just made learning math fun.”