Carol Kluting, a roller operator for Rieth-Riley, has worked in the construction business since 1996. She began working for Rieth-Riley in 1996 as a laborer. In 1999 she became a heavy equipment operator for the company. She operates a variety of heavy construction equipment.
“I run all of the rollers. Usually they put me on the biggest ones. I also drive the tool truck, the skid steers and the power broom,” Kluting said. She is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324. She feels that there are opportunities for women in the construction business.
“I don't think it's for every woman. It all depends on the woman. Women must be a little on the rugged side to do this work. Most women don't like to get their hands dirty,” Kluting said.
“A lot of men don't like to see women working in construction and they give women a hard time. This is what I've heard from other women, but the men I work with are all a bunch of great guys and I get along well with them.”
Kathy Hagopian, president and owner of Building Accessories Corporation in West Bloomfield Township, MI, began her career in the construction industry in 1980 in administrative support for Weis/Robart Partitions, Inc., which manufactures and supplies toilet compartments. Hagopian earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and management from Wayne State University in 1980. In 1983, she became vice president of Operations at Weis/Robart Partitions. She stayed in that position until 2003, when she began working as a consultant for general contractors. She earned a Masters of Business Administration from Walsh College in 2000. In October 2003, she decided to open her own business, Building Accessories Corporation. The company supplies and installs things such as fire cabinets, wall protection, toilet compartments, and toilet accessories for nonresidential building projects. Building Accessories Corporation purchases the items from a manufacturer, takes them to the job site and installs them.
“Construction people were telling me that they needed someone like me,” Hagopian said. She offers 28 years of experience to her customers. “I know how things are put together; how they are built,” Hagopian said.
“I come from a family that's always been in the construction industry. I've taught myself because I've been in this industry for so long. I've had experience from the manufacturing and operations end to the financial end. I was well equipped when I started my own business.” Her experience as a woman in the construction business has been a blend of things.
“People see that I'm a professional and that I know what I'm talking about. I get a lot of respect from contractors out in the field and I've run into people who are very skeptical at first, which means that I have to prove myself. In certain instances they have tested me to make sure that I know what I'm doing. So, I almost have to prove myself more than what a man would have to prove himself in some instances,” Hagopian said.
“Because there are more women coming into the construction industry, the testing of ability has really changed. They assume that you know what you're doing and you're not tested as much. When I first started in the construction business, I was always tested, but I'm not getting that as much anymore.
“Many women in the construction industry that I talk to who have the degrees feel that they are tested at times, but I don't know if it's any more or less than men that are entering the construction business.” She feels that there are more opportunities for women in the construction business today than there were in the past.
“We have the National Association of Women In Construction, and I think that has helped to organize us to the point where we're recognized as vital and important to the industry. So, it's changing and it takes a while to change,” Hagopian said.
Amanda Slade is a project manager with Six-S, Inc., of Waterford Township, MI, a concrete paving and excavating contractor. After she graduated from Michigan Technological University with a civil engineering degree, she went to work in 1999 as a survey crew chief for Engineering and Environmental Services Group, staking highway projects. After a few months, she went to work for Interstate Highway Construction as a project engineer, a quality control manager and a project administrator. She left Interstate Highway Construction in October 2006 and began working at Six-S in November 2006 as a project manager. Slade said that her experience in the construction business has generally been positive.
“It's mostly good. You have your challenges. There are people who do not want to accept women in the industry. There are always days when you feel you're up against everybody, but for the most part it's good. It's the same experience that I'm sure everyone has. You have your challenges to get jobs done correctly and without costing more money than is necessary. You also want to be proud of the product you produce,” Slade said.
“I love what I do. I love the day-to-day challenges of building a job, meeting deadlines, meeting budgets. I love the fact that you can see something that you built every day. I have found my place in this industry (it just may take a woman longer to be accepted), and I am comfortable in it.” She feels that there are opportunities for women in the construction business.
“I think that the opportunities are there, but you need to have thick skin, and I think it would be nice in the industry if women were taken a little more seriously. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle, no matter what you do. You can have more experience than 10 men, but sometimes nobody wants to listen to you because you're a female,” Slade said.
Danielle R. Smith, C.C.C.A., began her career in the construction business at Macomb Mechanical. She worked part-time for Macomb Mechanical from 1996 to 1999 and had a wide range of responsibilities including accounting and filling material lists. She also worked as an assistant in running the service department. She worked full-time at Macomb Mechanical from 1999 through 2003. Then she began working at George W. Auch Company in Pontiac, MI, as a project engineer, which is her current position. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in construction management from Eastern Michigan University in 2005.
Smith was raised in the construction business. Her father has worked for George W. Auch Company for approximately 30 years.
“My dad is a carpenter by trade. We always had a project going on around the house. He was always taking me to a job site. I just fell in love with the business,” Smith said. Her experience as a woman in the construction business has been positive.
“I've never had any issues, being a woman in the construction industry. I think I'm just as respected in the industry as any man would be,” Smith said. She feels that there are adequate opportunities for women in the construction business.
She said that women who are interested in a career in the construction business should be strong, confident and command respect. “Make everyday a learning experience. Never stop learning. There's always something new to learn; you never know it all,” Smith said.
“I think that the industry has accepted women.” She said that the construction industry and educators need to encourage women to get into the business.
Patricia F. Elazier started her career in the trucking industry in 1987 with Howard Baker, president of Baker Inc., a well established trucking company in Detroit, MI, that specialized in aggregate and trash hauling
A and M Trucking, Inc. was established in 2002. Elazier is president of A and M Trucking, Inc. Today, the trucking firm is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)/Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)/Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) firm and certified with the state of Michigan, Wayne County and the city of Detroit. A and M Trucking, Inc. services the metropolitan Detroit area hauling aggregates. A and M Trucking, Inc. is a member of the African American Trucking Association of Construction Contractors and participates with the association on the city of Detroit's Skilled Trades and Entrepreneurial Development Task Forces co-chaired by council members Brenda Jones and Martha Reeves.
Elazier has been trained and mentored in several phases of heavy-duty construction hauling by Sharon Richards-Truvillion, owner of RTT Trucking, a minority-owned business with an outstanding heritage and track record in the trucking industry.
Training has also been provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) staff with emphasis placed on rules and regulations. Both MDOT and RTT Trucking have provided opportunities for A and M to meet prime contractors and other agencies and organizations providing services for truckers.
Short-term goals for A and M Trucking, Inc. include working with the special DBE programs and opportunities offered by MDOT, building relationships with prime contractors and continuing to service the citizens of the metropolitan Detroit area.
Laura Huizinga is general manager for Estimating at C. Slagter Construction in Wayland, MI. Her responsibilities include project management, scheduling, estimating, and occasionally assisting in the field. C. Slagter Construction does guardrail installation.
Huizinga worked for NES-WorkSafe from June 1999 to September 2007 and did inside and outside sales and rentals. She developed marketing materials and promoted new products and innovations to MDOT. She also provided work zone safety training and attended numerous industry events and trade shows. She has worked for C. Slagter Construction since September 2007. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Grand Valley State University. Her experience in the construction industry has been very positive.
“The road-building community is very welcoming and supportive. During the past nine years, I cannot think of any negative situations that arose because of my gender. My experience working 'in the field' has been limited, so I cannot attest to any bias towards women working in that capacity. I have noticed that as companies focus more time on training (including harassment training), there have been less questionable remarks made around women. I personally have found a high level of acceptance from everyone I have worked with in this industry,” Huizinga said. She feels that there are opportunities for women in the construction industry.
“However, you have to be assertive enough to take them! I have found that if you do your job to the best of your ability, you will be judged for the quality of your work, not your gender,” Huizinga said.
“I think we could improve recruitment of women into the road-building industry. I have found that many young women (high school and college age) do not realize the opportunities available to them in construction.”
Dawn Peterson, A.I.A., C.S.I.; Nadia Yousef and Tracy Koe Wick recently joined Neumann/Smith Architecture, of Southfield, MI (Neumann/Smith).
Peterson joins Neumann/Smith as a specifications writer. She has 15 years of professional experience as a specifications writer, project manager, project architect, and project designer.
She has considerable experience with city and regional planning as well as academic projects. As specifications writer for Neumann/Smith, Peterson will be responsible for the development of project specifications and reviewing/critiquing the firm's construction drawings. She will also serve as the firm's technical advisor on materials, systems and detailing. Peterson earned a Bachelor of Architecture, with high honors, from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Construction Specifications Institute.
Yousef joins Neumann/Smith as a job captain with a diverse professional portfolio including commercial, retail, hospitality, and preservation projects. Her projects for the firm have included office renovations for law offices and corporate clientele. Yousef graduated with high honors from the University of California – Berkeley, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in both architecture and Near Eastern studies with a minor in city and regional planning. Following graduation, Yousef was the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State Institute for International Education for an architecture/preservation project in Yemen.
Wick has joined Neumann/Smith as director of Client Services, where she will manage consulting services and client relations for the firm.
Wick has over 15 years of experience working with many of Michigan's most respected development teams. For the past nine years, she managed her own real estate consulting firm, The Kirkwood Group, where she specialized in providing pre-development studies and marketing strategies. Her market knowledge and real estate expertise will enhance Neumann/Smith's capabilities in developing new business and deepening existing client relationships. She will also serve as a valuable resource to meet client requests for market information that reduces developer risk.
Wick holds a master's degree in urban planning for The University of Michigan, where she graduated as the Norbert Gorwic Scholar specializing in housing and community development. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Commercial Real Estate Women, and the National Association of Realtors.
Wightman & Associates, Inc. recently announced that Stefany Foster has joined the staff at its Benton Harbor, MI, headquarters. Foster is an architecture drafts person specializing in three-dimensional rendering and AutoCad for municipal, commercial and residential projects. In addition, Wightman & Associates' clients will benefit from her expertise in construction documents and construction detailing.
She graduated from Ferris State University (FSU), Big Rapids, MI, with a degree in architectural technology. Foster recently worked for MAC Engineering and as a student worked for Paw Paw Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Foster was a member of the FSU American Inst-itute of Architecture Students Group and the FSU Equestrian Team.
Wightman & Associates, Inc. provides professional services for engineering, architecture, surveying, and construction inspection in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Triangle Associates, Inc. recently announced the appointment of Lisa Anne Prasher, LEED AP, to the Triangle Associates Business Development Group. She will focus on the development of client and community relationships in the Southwest Michigan market.
Prasher brings over 19 years of experience in construction project management and business development to Triangle. She has served in a variety of planning, project and firm management roles, including her most recent position as group vice president and associate partner for CSM Group.
Prasher serves on business and community boards in both Grand Rapids, MI, and Kalamazoo, MI. She is a member of the Kalamazoo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board of directors, Capital Improvements Committee, and Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Awards Program Committee.
Triangle Associates, of Grand Rapids, provides general contracting, construction management and design-build services across a wide variety of business sectors.