Celebrating Women in Construction Week: Part 1

by Melanie Baravik
March 5, 2018

It’s NAWIC’s annual Women in Construction week, and so we’re taking this opportunity to spotlight the women we work with every day. Women hold a wide variety of positions at EquipmentShare — they coordinate heavy machinery rentals, crunch numbers, onboard new employees, build ES Track and help customers learn how to use it, just to name a few. And today, they’re sharing their experiences as women in construction.

Danielle Schlacks, Executive Support

What brought you into the construction industry?

My husband — he's been in construction since before we were married 20 years ago.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

I love meeting the different manufacturers and touring the factories. I also LOVE the team we have here that I get to spend time with and call my friends.

Do you have other experience in construction outside of your current position?

I have done a significant amount of different tasks on various government, federal and state construction contracts from painting to electrical, and from tile to concrete. I also own a construction company with my sister-in-law. We have several subcontractors and we do a very wide scope of construction.

What would you say to girls and women thinking about a career in the construction industry?

If you have a passion, go for it. Be determined and don't let the old school "this is a man's job" mentality deter you!

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

As a mother of six, the biggest challenge I have faced is dealing with schedules, meals, sickness, sports and everything else related to caring for my children while trying to run a successful company and be a worthy employee.

What do you like best about working in this industry?

The diversity in everything we do. I learn something new every day. A new manufacturer, a new piece of equipment. How to finance equipment, the best markets to rent in. I thoroughly enjoy the amount of information I have been able to learn every day, and I look forward to coming to work. Additionally I LOVE the different employees that are part of the team. People from all walks of life that are all working together towards the same goal!

Michelle Montrose, Director of Credit & Collections

What brought you into the construction industry?

Family business on the lease/finance side.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Besides the wonderful people I have the opportunity to work with and for, I really enjoy the interaction with customers.

What would you say to girls and women thinking about a career in the construction industry?

As a mother and grandmother, I encourage girls to pursue your dreams regardless if it is a male-dominated industry. Now more than ever, I think women are standing up for, beside and encouraging each other!

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I'm on the credit side of this industry, so I don't face challenges like our coworkers do. In finance, it's not a male-dominated career, it's based on your ability.

 

Leah Brazier, Territory Account Manager

What brought you into the construction industry?

Family. My dad was a builder so I seemed to naturally gravitate towards the construction industry.

What would you say to girls and women thinking about a career in the construction industry?

Do it! Get it girl! I love, love, love breaking stereotypes!

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I have met men that think I am a pretty face and know nothing. It can be more challenging for a female in this field because of that, but I love nothing more than showing someone I know more than they assume. Education = power!

What do you like best about working in this industry?

I enjoy that everyday is completely different than the last. The schedule, the scenery, the stresses. Every single day is different and I love the chaos of it. I will say I could NOT do my job without my coworkers.

Cassie Levett, Quality Assurance Tester

What brought you into the construction industry?

Family brought me into construction. Most of the men in my family and a number of the women work in the industry. My father taught me carpentry and to finish drywall when we began building our family home. After I left the Air Force, he got me a job with Grooms Construction as a general laborer.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

I'm excited about the new technologies EquipmentShare is putting into place to tackle common issues in construction. A great example is the issue of keys with heavy equipment. If someone on the jobsite takes the keys home, then other workers will be unable to use that vehicle. So a common practice was to stash them on the vehicle which — no surprise — leads to issues like theft or general misuse of equipment. The keyloggers we have been helping companies implement can solve this issue. It’s great stuff.

Do you have other experience in construction outside of your current position?

I was a general laborer for about five years. Painting, carpentry, and drywall were a few of my preferred jobs.

What would you say to girls and women thinking about a career in the construction industry?

Find a trade skill and master it. Do not be intimidated by your limitations like physical strength. I'm 5'3" and could never keep up with the men shingling a roof or pouring concrete. To make up for this, I took on tasks that many of them preferred not to do like sanding and mudding drywall. They did not enjoy work like this that is tedious or takes attention to detail. Many of the men would hurry through it as fast as possible to get to the next task, leaving their work low quality. They were happy to let me do it, and my boss appreciated it getting done right.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

You'll face a certain amount of sexism in this industry. Most of it will not be the obvious type. You'll walk into a room and the men will get less chatty or vulgar jokes will not be told because a woman is around. It’s intended to be out of respect, but it can make you feel a sense of exclusion. I've tackled it in different ways, by either joining in or just keeping silent. Growing thick skin, ignoring what wasn't of consequence, and being vocal when something was important worked for me.

What do you like best about working in this industry?

Gaining a sense of pride when a project is finished. When I drive past buildings for the Moberly school district, I can point and say I did that. Those ceiling tiles in the band room — I hung those. That green house at the vo-tech, I help assemble that. It conjures a great sense of pride knowing I contributed to that community. I'm not hanging drywall these days, but when I drive past a job site where I see ES heavy equipment, I still feel that pride knowing EquipmentShare is helping them get that project done.

Keep reading

Bringing Women into the Construction Trades
Where are All the Women in Construction?

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