“I was going to earn their respect by sweating with them.”
Brandi is a lot of things: a mother, a previous business owner, a Marysville, OH, native. But above all of these, she is a hard worker.
At 32, Brandi was running a cleaning business and working as a personality and model for Scentblocker hunting gear. She was a single mother to two children, and she worked hard and made just enough money to pay her bills and provide for her family. Brandi liked running her own business, but when the market would fluctuate, Brandi knew that cleaning services were the first thing to get cut. As her clients would cut the services, Brandi started to get frustrated with the work: she was working hard and still faced financial uncertainty.
During a Father’s Day conversation with her brother Dax four years ago, Brandi realized that unless she made some changes, she was likely going to spend the rest of her life simply getting by–and that wasn’t what Brandi wanted for her future. Dax, a civil engineer, pointed out some of Brandi’s qualities that he admired about her: she was athletic, driven, committed, and a hunter, which meant she could tolerate the outdoors in both the heat and the cold. All of those things combined to something that was obvious to her brother: Brandi was a great fit for construction.
Dax, who worked for George J. Igel & Co., Inc., promised Brandi he’d check in with the HR department that Monday to see if they had any open positions. He did, and Brandi got a call from Igel requesting an interview that Thursday. She went, and later that night, she got a call from her brother with good news. If Brandi could make it to orientation the following Monday morning, she had a job. By Friday, Brandi had notified all of her customers that she was moving on from her cleaning company, and just one week after her initial conversation with Dax, she was working a construction job.
When Brandi showed up on Monday, all she knew was that she was hired as a laborer. She was assigned to the Franklin County Correctional project, and she started working right away on the concrete portion of the job. Brandi was excited to have a challenge ahead of her, and she took it on with pride.
“I watched the process for hours that first day,” Brandi said. “I saw how the wrecking crew got rid of the forms they were breaking down, and how our team was picking up, stacking, and sending the materials where they needed to go.”
It was primarily men working on this team, and Brandi knew one thing was for sure: she was not going to let her gender determine her success at this job. She vowed to earn the respect of her new team by sweating with them, and she did just that.
Brandi stayed on that project for seven months before moving on to the Columbus Zoo, where she learned about grade checking, and then Project Mustang at the new Google complex in New Albany, where she’s been since July 2018.
In her time at Igle, Brandi has taken on every new type of work she can get her hands on, including wrecking, concrete, surveying, set structure and more. She’s worked at least 40 hours a week, sometimes up to 60 hours a week, consistently since she was hired, and she loves the work and the impact it’s having on her life–and on her family. Recently, Brandi’s 15 year-old daughter was able to choose from a variety of school projects, and she chose construction.
“She’s built a toolbox and a birdhouse so far,” Brandi said. “Construction is one of her favorite classes, and she mentioned recently that she understands why I love the work that I do.”
Brandi encourages her daughter and her 12-year-old son to be open to a potential future in construction. As they get older, she plans to encourage them to consider taking a year to work in construction and see if they feel like it’s a good fit for them.
“I’m proud that my daughter can look at me and see that there’s a place for her in construction, too.”
As for being a female in construction, Brandi hasn’t noticed an impact on her path to success. It might be because she’s too busy learning. Since her first day on the job, Brandi has been absorbing as much information as possible from her team, asking questions and requesting demonstrations of new skills as often as she can get them. It might also be because, as Brandi noted, she works for a strong company with a great reputation and culture.
Whatever the reason, Brandi is happy with her work and the new opportunities construction has opened for her and her children.
“I hold myself to very high standards, and I like to be around the best. I feel like now, I am.”
Learn More About Careers in Construction
Begin your career in construction today! Explore educational tools and resources right here on I Build America Ohio’s website. Questions about how to start a career in construction? Email us at email@example.com to get started in the right direction.
Follow along all week as we continue to share the message about the important role of women in construction, today and all year long!