Valerie Gerardi is a Canadian entrepreneur, co-founder and owner of Anvale Homes Inc. a custom home and renovation development company serving the GTA. Her entrance into the building industry, which is still largely male-dominated, was much more than chance or coincidence, the result of a family deeply rooted in the home construction industry and a father who was a renowned home builder in the local community. She has since left her own lasting mark on the industry, serving as an example of how when passion, skill, and a desire to learn collide, there are no limits to where a woman can succeed.
My first job ever was… Working for my father’s home building and development company. I was 15 years old, in grade 9, employed at the corporation as a summer student to assist with administrative tasks.
I decided to continue in the family business because… I was able to learn so much from my family business. I fell in love with putting together projects from start to finish for clients, and I enjoy every aspect of the building process; I have a hands on approach throughout every aspect of the new home building process—from overseeing the design to managing the build construction
My proudest accomplishment was… Being nominated for best custom home in 2013.
My boldest move to date was… Leaving the family business and starting my own custom home building and renovation company Anvale Homes. Then, after meeting with clients to locate them a property, my husband and I realized there was a void in the company. Our hired realtor wasn’t locating the properties, it was me! I made a bold move to go back to school to get my real estate license which helped the company and my clients moving forward.
Being a woman in a male dominated industry is… Not an easy position to occupy. I bring a woman’s perspective to an industry traditionally and predominantly male-dominated, and as a woman in a male-dominated field, you have to be prepared to assert yourself at all times. But I also provide clients with a distinctive viewpoint and understanding of what makes a home truly functional while also aesthetically distinct and appealing. I bring a fresh and unique perspective new home building and renovating.
I get ahead by… Getting up early, which empowers me to get more done. Exercising also keeps my body in shape, motivates my mind and makes me more productive. I’m also always learning new things. I’m a lifelonger learner, I never pass up the chance to learn a new fact or a new skill.
“As a woman in a male-dominated field, you have to be prepared to assert yourself at all times.”
I surprise people when I tell them… That I’m a home/renovator builder and realtor.
My best advice to people starting out in entrepreneurship is… To focus on setting & achieving small incremental goals rather than trying to start a business and instantly build your vision of what the company should be in the years to come. Have the full picture in mind, but take the steps one at a time. No matter what your vision, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the steps needed to get to your goal.
My best advice from a mentor was… The best advice I ever received was from my Dad, my biggest mentor in life. Starting when I was young, he always quoted Confucius and told me, “Choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life” and that “the greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
My biggest setback was… When my Dad died and the company was torn apart by family members deciding to go in different directions. I had to take a step back to decide what my passion was and where I was heading. That’s when my husband and I started Anvale Homes. I had to start all over again, which was a big challenge.
“No matter what your vision, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the steps needed to get to your goal.”
I overcame it by… Taking one step at a time, planning my goals, asking for help, never giving up, and being true to my self and my passion to help clients build their dream homes.
Work/life balance is… A daily effort. I always made sure I was there to pick up my children after school to hear about their day and take them to their activities, making sure we have dinner together, then making time to exercise, rest and rela to rejuvenate myself.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m scared of geckos!
I stay inspired by… I get a great sense of accomplishment from seeing a home start from ground up, then handing over the keys to clients and seeing them move into their dream home that my team and I built.
The future excites me because… There are so many wonderful things to do, build, and renovate!