C.C. Vest Breaks Down Barriers in a Male-Dominated Industry | NAWBO

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C.C. Vest Breaks Down Barriers in a Male-Dominated Industry

 

“You’re making too much money.” When C.C. Vest was confronted with those words as a sales representative in a parts distribution company, she knew she had to make a change. So in 1985, she took her knowledge, drive and leadership and launched Midpoint Bearing.  

Today, Midpoint Bearing is a bearing and power transmission product distributor with locations in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Indiana. C.C. leads more than 40 employees across the nation and serves businesses across the MRO, electric motor and pump repair, original equipment manufacturing, wind turbine repair and steel manufacturing sectors.

While she has achieved great success, C.C. has faced many challenges as a woman business owner in a male-dominated industry. “Let’s face it, I have been laughed at, sexually harassed as well as criticized for just being a woman in this business,” she says. “You can take your pick as to what order. I have had to work twice as hard as my counterparts just to get my foot in the door.”

But with a background in the industry, C.C. made a point to use her existing strong client relationships to make her business successful. Despite having limited inventory in the beginning, clients stuck with Midpoint Bearing as it grew based on expertise and service. “They knew that if they had a problem with something, we would look into it to find solutions,” she says.

Through the years, C.C. has enjoyed many milestones, including the expansion of the business to three new locations based on her clients’ needs. One of her most impactful memories is of one of her first big clients requiring help with a high-speed labeling machine. One year later, the client called her in to reveal they had obtained big contracts for label machines for the Wall Street Journal and for Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds perfume. As a token of their appreciation for her help, they gifted C.C. a bottle of the perfume before it went public. “It’s still my signature scent,” she says. “When I put that on in the morning, I’m reminded of my humble beginnings.”

Finding sources of support, like NAWBO, has helped C.C. continue to grow and advance as a leader in her field. A member of California’s NAWBO-Inland Empire chapter since 2011, she has enjoyed being able to connect with other women business owners, and help others achieve their goals. “I have had the opportunities to make long-lasting friendships with other established business owners as well as help mentor young entrepreneurs,” she says. “We have to help others along the way with what we have learned. I always say, ‘Pay it forward.’”

For younger women just starting out in male-dominated fields, C.C.’s advice is simple: “Just be able to handle whatever comes your way,” she says. Whether it’s in an office, or a steel mill, confidence in your abilities is key. “You need to have a tougher backbone for a lot of this work. You have to be resilient in a lot of different environments.”

Looking ahead, C.C. is focused on continuing to grow Midpoint Bearing through marketing plans and strategies in niche markets. “The future holds many opportunities,” she says. “We are proud of our employees and thank our customers for the trust they have in us.”

Learn more about C.C. and Midpoint Bearing at www.midpointbearing.com.