Laura Lay got into development because she wanted a dog and couldn’t afford one on her teacher salary. Fast forward 15 years and she’s the director of business development and marketing at Construction Services Inc. (CSI) in Tampa. Lay co-owns the company with her husband, Fred Lay.
Lay says it was difficult as a young woman to push her way into circles of 50- to 60-year-old men, who had the “good old boys mentality.” She had to be creative, organizing shooting, golf and sports events. “I grew up on a farm, so man activities are easy for me,” she says.
Building relationships is how she’s helped grow the business. “Let’s get to know each other and the business will come,” is a mantra for Lay.
One of the most rewarding jobs Lay completed was helping Tampa-based Doctors Administrative Solutions find a new headquarters after searching for four years. “It took the longest labor of love,” Lay says.
Just as impressive is Lay’s resume with local organizations. She sits on the Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Leadership Council and patient advisory board. She’s also on the development committee for the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and Growth Task Force for the Pasco Economic Development Council. Finally, she serves as a board member for Junior Achievement. Philanthropy is a big part of the couple’s business, Lay says. Over the last five years, CSI has donated $1 million back to the community, according to Lay.
— Traci Beach
Name: Laura Lay
City of residence: Downtown Tampa
Twitter handle: N/A
Employer: Construction Services Inc. of Tampa
Title: Director of Business Development/Marketing Director
Birthplace: Greatest City Ever, Tampa!
Years on the Gulf Coast: Fifth generation Floridian! Born and Raised in Tampa
Marital status/children: Married with a beautiful two-year-old daughter we adopted at birth.
Alma mater: USF BULLS!
Best place to network: Networking can happen anywhere your willing to turn to the person next to you and start a conversation. The Tampa Club is my favorite place.
Coolest business experience: I went into a clean-room for Bausch & Lomb and learned how intraocular lens replacements are made.
The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Nothing takes the place of a good, old-fashioned phone call. Emails can miss the human touch and sometimes everyone needs a dose of the good old days.
One website that makes your job easier: Google! It’s the place I start to find the answer to anything I need.
One community group you’re most involved with: Junior Achievement, board member
Favorite off-hours activity: Boating with friends and family.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Taylor Swift because she is goofy, confident in all things and a huge philanthropist. Charlie Sheen…because who wouldn’t? Something interesting and crazy is bound to happen.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I would have a party planning business. I love details and watching the joy in people’s faces during the parties I have thrown.
Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: I drove a Fast Truck through the desert and hills in Vegas…and yes I broke it!
What’s at the top of your bucket list: I need to hold a Wombat! #topofmybucketlist
What new skill would you like to learn: I would like to learn photography.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Definitely Reese Witherspoon. I love how she can laugh at herself and rock sweatpants or stilettos all with a southern twang…That is me.
If I had a magic wand I’d: Freeze the moments I have with my daughter. Life really does go by faster the older you get.