I Build America – Ohio is dedicated to celebrating the women of construction. Women are a vital part of our industry, and there are female leaders at all levels of construction work. From foreman to company owners and executives, construction wouldn’t be the industry it is without its female employees. Join us and our partners in celebrating the success of women within your own company and across the nation during National Women in Construction Week 2023.
Company: Foundation Steel LLC
Title/Position: Owner, President / CEO
Years in Construction: 15 years
What was your path to a career in construction?
My path was more of a business path. I had previous experience owning a company and took some time to raise my family. I developed an interest in construction through some contacts I had and saw a need I felt I could fill. I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of construction employees, particularly in Ironwork, who I felt through my own observations were not necessarily treated the greatest. I founded the company in 2008 and spent several years learning the industry and preparing to launch the company. I hired my first employees in 2011 and ran the business out of my house with business operations in the basement and iron workers using the garage to fabricate reinforcing steel. Operations moved to Swanton a few years later. Our competitors and I suspect, Industry Leaders, didn’t think we’d make it. The first year we were active in business, 2011, our revenue was a modest $2,024,565. In 2022 our revenue was $48,098,506 and we averaged 200 employees. I love the company and built it together with an awesome team of employees.
What do you like most about working in construction?
My favorite thing is having the influence and ability to positively impact the lives of employees and their families. I also love problem solving and setting standards that are not the norm in our industry. I can’t leave out how cool it is to see a bridge or building we built; it still amazes me and prompts a grateful heart for all God has done and for all the people that have been instrumental in the growth and success of Foundation Steel.
Have you seen a change in the opportunities for women in construction over the course of your career?
If I’m going to answer this question honestly, I would say yes and no. It is getting better. We need to keep earning respect. It will not be given to a woman readily and will be quickly withdrawn at the first sign of weakness or error. I have never let that stop me and if any woman wants to make it, she can’t either. I have never played the woman card. The imbalance and the ease with which men in the industry gain respect does bother me at times but I choose not to let that last more than a minute. We, as a company have a defined Mission Statement by which we function, and we do the right thing even when it’s inconvenient. The rest of the noise isn’t important to me. I have a job to do and that is to serve my employees and deliver a quality job to the Owners and Contractors for whom we work. Women are different than men. We’re not better (or worse) but we do bring a different perspective.
What would you like to see for the future of women in construction?
I would like to see more women in construction that are functioning fully in their positions, setting the bar. I’d like women to succeed because they earned it and are good at what they do. We need more heart in construction. Along with that, we need wisdom and uncompromising excellence!
If you were to give young women (high schoolers) advice about beginning a career in construction, what would you say?
Know who you are and what your values are. In any industry, if you aren’t confident in what you stand for, you’ll be swayed by “group think” and you may make it but you’ll never rise above the pack. You don’t have to compromise your morals and values. Don’t let anyone define you and don’t let the naysayers get you down. As you rise up, they’ll see, but do it for yourself, not to prove anything to anyone else. I actually tell this to my male employees too, particularly estimators: Know your worth! Ladies, work hard. Nobody owes you success. It’s sad some won’t want you to be successful simply because you’re a woman, or maybe it’s because your high standard exposes their poor standard. Keep going and don’t look back. You will succeed if you persevere, and that success will have failures along the way. So, what! Keep going! You are more than capable of having a successful construction career. Have faith in yourself and your abilities.