Diversity a rock on which Gibraltar, Jefferson build success.

Byline: Nate Beck

Since Shannon Jefferson founded Gibraltar Industries, a commercial and residential cleaning business, after a bittersweet layoff in 2007, she has had a series of revelations.

She quickly learned that there was still demand for a residential cleaning service in Milwaukee, despite the recession that took hold in 2008. In three years, her client list became lengthy, going from two homes to 200. In that time, she discovered that the demand for commercial cleaning hadn't disappeared, either, and began cleaning office buildings.

"My light bulb went off," Jefferson said. "It kind of ballooned (from cleaning homes). Every building needs tissue. Every building has windows. I can do every building."

Then she discovered, after winning a contract to clean newly built Target stores in 2011, that the construction industry was brimming with opportunity as well. Each job brought her a sense of accomplishment.

"You get these buildings that are millions and millions of dollars, and someone trusts you to get it brand new so that they can give it to someone else," Jefferson said. "Once I got a taste of that, it was consuming to the point that it was all I wanted to do."

Gibraltar has tackled some of the most prominent construction projects in recent...

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