Karyl Smith earns national recognition
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
WAVERLY, Iowa — The past 18 months have brought opportunities and challenges for Karyl Smith of Waverly.
She has helped her daughter, mother and several other relatives deal with serious health problems while continuing to run her own small business, Iowa Valley Appraisal.
Just before the June floods she and her husband, Bob, sold their house, which included Smith’s office, intending to remodel a Main Street building in Waverly. Because they didn’t want to tie up contractors needed by people who didn’t have housing, they moved Smith’s office into an apartment building. They now are about to start working on the flood damaged building and are hoping that Smith can move into her new office March 1.
In the spring 2007 Smith was invited to testify before U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley’s Subcomittee on Contracting and Technology. With less than a week to prepare, Smith talked about the difficulties women-owned small businesses face when procuring government contracts. Her testimony brought clapping and cheers from the audience.
This summer, Smith was honored as USDA Rural Development’s National Women-Owned Small Business Contractor of the Year. She received her award at a ceremony this summer in Washington, D.C. Recently, members of Iowa’s USDA Rural Development staff presented Smith with an award in Waverly. Rural Development contracts with Smith for housing appraisals.
The past few years have been difficult and exciting and that’s the essence of women-owned small businesses, Smith said.
"We do the work that we need to do while caring for our families," she said. "My focus has been on my family and maintaining my business. Sometimes we’re pulled in a lot of directions."
Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa, said Smith consistently provides excellent service.
"Karyl and her firm have routinely delivered appraisals ahead of the scheduled date, while presenting them professionally and following our requirements and industry-wide appraisal standards," Reisinger said.
Smith started Iowa Valley Appraisal in April 2002 to provide real estate appraisal services on residential and commercial properties and agricultural land throughout northeast Iowa. Within the first two months of operations, Iowa Valley Appraisal had met its first-year financial goal, and by the end of two years, the business had reached its 10-year goal.
Smith, her daughter, Samantha, and Robin Knapp are starting another business venture, Integralink Appraisal Management Company. The Smiths have another daughter, Ashley, who is premed student at the University of Northern Iowa.
Smith said when she was contacted about testifying before U.S. Rep. Braley’s subcommittee, she said no.
"But after I hung up and told Samantha about it, she said that if I didn’t do it, she’d be disappointed in me, and she had never been disappointed before," Smith said. "I said, ‘I’ll guess I’ll go.’"
Smith didn’t realize until later the impact that her testimony had. She has received phone calls and e-mails seeking advice.
After she testified, Mike Boyle, a USDA Rural Development appraiser in Tipton, asked her to speak to Iowa’s USDA Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and its Civil Rights Committee.
Boyle also told Smith he was nominating her for an award. An interview followed with officials from Washington. Not long after that, she found out she won the national award. There were 8,000 applicants.
"We’re very proud of Karyl," Boyle said.
"I wear this award as a badge of honor," Smith said. "It’s been fun, and I’m getting work because of it. It has opened doors."