Three years ago, Susie Turner took a chance. After more than two decades working for someone else, she started working for herself.
“It has been by making the change from working for a large organization to starting my own business that has opened many doors for me,” says Turner, president and owner of Signal Strength LLC.
Her company offers traffic signal installation, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair, and it is an approved contractor for the Missouri Department of Transportation. Signal Strength also offers bucket truck escorts for oversized transports all over the United States.
After 14 years working for City Utilities of Springfield, Turner says she appreciates the opportunities afforded by self-employment.
“As a small-business owner, I set the direction and create influence for the employees who choose to work within our company,” she says. “As a woman in business, I encourage other women to realize you can step out into the unknown and set a new course for your life. As a woman in construction, I demonstrate you can venture into an industry many women do not choose.”
A Springfield native, Turner moved away after college, returning to the Ozarks in 1991 – the same year she started an outdoor basketball tournament to benefit Ozarks Regional YMCA that continued for 13 years. Her volunteering expanded to include committee work with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of the Ozarks, as well as membership on the boards of the YMCA, Isabel’s House, Leadership Springfield – of which Turner is a graduate – and the Junior League of Springfield.
Turner began her involvement with Junior League in 2005, served as its president four years ago and is a board member.
“It was not until I became a member that I began to understand how instrumental the Junior League has been in developing projects and programs to benefit the Springfield community,” Turner says. “Behind all of those remarkable achievements are women who are coming together to make a difference.”
Turner is proud the league hosted two community specific events during her term as president: a forum for the release of the Community Focus report assessing the strengths and challenges in the area, and a presentation by Ruby Payne, an author and speaker known for her work understanding poverty and overcoming its hurdles.
“Both of these events encouraged dialogue that continues today regarding important red-flag issues,” Turner says. “These events provided me the opportunity to speak throughout the community to educate and encourage participation for meaningful change.”
Central Bank of the Ozarks Vice President Stephen Gassel met Turner when volunteering as a Springfield chamber ambassador in the early 1990s. He credits her with creating a thriving business while continuing her civic work.
“She has shown the ability to build and use influence in her commitment to the Springfield community as well as her business dealings,” Gassel says. “Springfield is a better place to live, work and play because of Susie’s involvement and influence.”
417 Cocktails LLC moved; 7 Brew Coffee added its first shop in Lebanon; and Branson outlet store for Baltimore, Maryland-based sports apparel retailer Under Armour relocated.