An office space is not your typical daycare, but it was for Linzie Venegas who used to play with her Barbies under her father’s desk. And like a true Barbie dream world, she has become the woman in charge — President of the Ideal Group
Venegas is just two weeks younger than the family business, so for her entire life, the family has been centered around the business, and the business has centered around the family.
The origins of the company start with her father, Frank Venegas, when he attended the Livingston County Builder’s Ball, an event hosted by the Home Builders Association of Livingston County. They were raffling off a Cadillac Coupe Deville, and Frank took a chance and bought a raffle ticket, hoping to win a Cadillac Coupe Deville, he struck gold that night and won the car that changed the Venegas family’s life forever.
Frank Venegas ended up selling the Cadillac, using the money to start a family-oriented, community-driven business. The company is known as Ideal Group, a conglomerate based in Southwest Detroit with over 600 employees, eight divisions, and a footprint in two countries.
Venegas literally grew up in the business and never saw herself doing anything else; she loved her family and learned to love the company.
“My brother and I both started very young, and as soon as I could say my ABCs, my dad was like, great, you can start filing and stuffing envelopes,” Venegas said.
Venegas always knew that she would be involved with the company in some capacity, but how much exactly was not actualized for her until she found her love for digital marketing. When she was in middle school and high school she worked with college interns at Ideal on marketing projects for the new products the company was launching at the time.
“I just found it fun,” she admitted because she was a young girl hanging out with a bunch of cool young adults and was learning a lot about the digital marketing industry. She worked alongside the interns to build out the company’s first-ever website, and she grew particularly interested in the search engine tool, which could be used to their benefit by adding certain words to their site that would put them at the top of the search results.
Without a college education, Venegas taught herself everything she knew about digital marketing by seeking out books, workshops, seminars, watching videos, and reading articles online.
In her early twenties, Google launched Google Ads and Venegas, enthralled by the possibility of utilizing the platform to increase the company’s network grew hungry to learn more. Digital marketing guided her to expand her own network and ultimately fostered a relationship with the Google team in Ann Arbor.
The relationship was a defining moment for Venegas. She learned to sell herself and the work she was doing with Google Ads to the Google executives in order to create a relationship where they would want to invest money into Ideal.
“At that time, smaller businesses were not using Google Ads for their business, so we forged a good relationship,” voiced Venegas.
The Ideal Group became one of Google’s beta testers, which means they would get to use Google’s newest products before they were launched to the general public free of charge. In return for feedback about the utilization and web design, which was her passion.
For Venegas, building this relationship, seeing the exact numbers, and being able to provide the return on investment (ROI) to Google was a gratifying feeling that motivated her to do more.
Fast forward, and after many years of working in various divisions of the company, Linzie Venegas is president of Ideal Group, in a world where “the glass ceiling in the construction industry has proven a difficult one to crack, with just 1.4 percent of CEOs globally made up of women,” according to BoldData.
Venegas has often found herself to be the only Latina in the room, especially when working in the construction industry. Again, she credits her father for being the reason she is so confident in those spaces.
“I come from a family of all men. I am the first woman of four generations in my family,” Venegas said.
Venegas disclosed that her father was not like men in other Latino families who tend to be machistas or male chauvinists.
“I never got any special treatment. My dad was never like, your brother is going to be the boss, and you are below him, we were always equals,” she said.
Above all else, she said having great mentors to learn how to carry yourself in professional spaces and how to interact with other people has helped her navigate those spaces. That is why, as president, she advocates for women and people of different backgrounds in general who will bring different but well-informed information to the table.
As a leader, she provides a vision and works with her team to define the vision and to properly actualize it. Worker retention is a priority for Venegas.
“For instance, with human resources, we want to create the best experience possible by looking at the different metrics such as age and the turnover rate. We try to figure out why there is a turnover rate and how to decrease it,” Venegas explained.
Working for the family company is just a job for some people, but Venegas also knows employees sometimes spend a lot of time at work. This is why they strive to create a friendly work environment by personally knowing those who work for them. They also set up lunches and events to celebrate individual employee’s and the company’s success together.
A core goal of the company is to always follow the golden rule, which Venegas credits her father for, who always believed you should treat others as you’d like to be treated.
Venegas also attributes her work ethic to her father, who would tell her, “you are going to do this job, and this is the end game, and this is what I want you to learn.” For Venegas and her brother, Jesse, taking over the company has been an honor, but they knew they had big shoes to fill.
“He [Frank Venegas] has really carved a name for himself and has really gone into uncharted territory with his career and made a lot of success, and sometimes being compared against that can be a challenge,” said Venegas.
On the flip side, Venegas is grateful because “he comes into the office a couple of hours every day, and I’m able to give him a hug and tell him I love him every day.”
There is no typical day for Venegas but she tries her best to keep some semblance of a routine by working out in the morning. “Right now, I’ve been doing a lot of walking because I’m doing a walking challenge,” she chuckled. She said her morning walks have become “time to myself and time to think.”
After her workout, she jumps on a computer to respond to emails and begin goal setting for the day so she can be ready to take on whatever comes her way during meetings, appointments, and in her general interactions at the office. Every night, she ends her day with her husband and her dog.
Venegas laughed when discussing her personal goals and said, “I’m really working on sleep hygiene and just getting more sleep every day.” Overall, she focuses on wellness and caring for her mind and body so she can be her best self every day.
The Ideal Group is specifically passionate about providing access to the youth of Southwest Detroit to gain knowledge, with the hopes that they will end up in the same rooms as her one day or break into spaces in other industries.
An example of providing access between communities is the recent collaboration between Cranbrook schools in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit Cristo Rey Middle School in Southwest Detroit. Between the two schools and Ideal Group, they create a curriculum centered around the kids going from Southwest to Cranbrook and vice versa.
“We are bringing all the kids up to Cranbrook, so they get to see the institute of science and get hands-on experience,” Venegas said. “The Cranbrook community came down to Holy Redeemer Church because they wanted to learn about the church and the history.”
Ideal Group has also provided Cristo Rey with a hospital room and a robotics room to give them the opportunity to expand their minds.
“I’m very passionate about how you use your connections or network to plug in areas where they can provide access to the students here in Southwest Detroit,” said Venegas.
Ideal Group provides companies such as GM, Ford, and Honda with the materials and labor to build their plants. Ideal’s steel erector crews currently work where the new electrical vehicles will be assembled.
One of her goals for the company is to continue running it alongside her brother. She is excited about providing clear pipelines for the youth to join their company so they can visualize themselves growing within the company.
Five months ago, General Motors held its 31st annual Supplier of the Year event in San Antonio, Texas. They awarded Ideal Senetech and Ideal Contracting, both divisions of the Ideal Group, with the Supplier of the Year award. Ideal Group has been recognized as the supplier of the year 19 times.
Venegas plans to be awarded Supplier of the Year for the 20th time.
Andrea Meza works as a social worker at United Community Housing Coalition and is a recent broadcast journalism graduate from Wayne State University. Her main passion is informing and supporting the community.