Women In Construction Week Spotlight

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Name 

Keri Abel

Company Name 

Precision Environmental Company

Company Website: https://www.precision-env.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 2 Years

 

Short Bio

Keri started her career with Precision Environmental as the Wellness Coordinator with the goal of connecting with both office and field employees to advance their health & wellness. In the past two years she has developed a more hands on approach to the field through visiting laborers on the jobsite for wellness coaching and implementing the company stretch & flex program. As part of the safety department in the office, she has taken on new job duties to become a more active team member and acts as the office benefits coordinator.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

Construction chose me.

 

Did you have a mentor in the industry? If yes, whom?

My position is vastly growing and evolving, wish there was a standard for corporate wellness in the construction industry. Which leads me to the drive to create the standard.

 

What do you like most about your work?

The amount of knowledge that I have learned and continue to learn of the industry each day and how that knowledge has allowed me to pave new roads for health & wellness in the industry.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Do not back down. Do not be afraid to break a barrier, break through it, excel, exceed, accomplish.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

I do not directly work on a projects, but I can say this, driving 3 hours to West Virginia to visit a power plant and seeing first hand the work that goes into the job, I gained a new respect for those in our industry.

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

On a broader spectrum highlight during major projects the women in the field (not just the office), marketing to vocational schools, secondary schools, college fairs, job fairs, that Women are an INTEGRAL part of this industry.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

That I can wear jeans EVERY DAY! :) and facing my fears of ladders and scaffolding. One supervisor in particular LOVES having me walk up/down scaffolding to enter/exit a job site, when he knows I am deathly afraid of ladders and scaffolding. (We're at 3 levels and counting)

 

Name 

Nissa Beasley

Company Name 

PCScompanies

Company Website: www.PCScompanies.com

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 29 years

Short Bio

I’ve worked in the Construction Industry for over 25+ years. I have experience in renovation of medium to large scale medical facilities and new construction of commercial buildings.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

I wanted to be an architect and design houses. But after taking an architecture class in high school, I found that architecture was not where I wanted to be. I met with my high school counselor to discuss my career options. After our discussion, it was recommended that my best career path would be Civil Engineering. And I never turned back.

 

What do you like most about your work?

What I like most about my work is watching a project come together from start to finish.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Construction isn’t a glamorous career choice, but the rewards and since of accomplishment you feel after completing a project is priceless.

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

I’ve worked on many projects but the one that stands out to me the most is Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Facility. This was the 1st project where I was the lead PM; I worked directly with the Hospital’s Representative for the project as well as the Architect and Engineer Design Team. I also led a small project team as well. It was challenging, yet fun.

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

My favorite project is the project I’m currently working on, Cleveland Police Headquarters project. This is my 1st time being on the design side of a project; from Concept Design to Construction Documents. Being part of the design phase will make me a better Project Manager during buyout and construction.

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

To attract more women to construction, we need to introduce ALL the roles of construction to girls at an early age. Don’t just show them the women working in the field or directing traffic, show them women Owners, Project Managers, Attorneys, Safety, Accounting, etc.

 

Name

Susie Chaplin

Company Name 

Redwood Living

Company Website

https://www.byredwood.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 11 yrs

 

Short Bio

Sunaina (Susie) Chaplin is a Boler College alumni from JCU Part-time MBA program (c/o 2019) and Director of Safety and Compliance at Redwood Living, where she helps streamline a safety focus across all sites for single family apartment developments. When she takes her hard hat off, she focuses on economic empowerment for women by serving as a board member for the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). She also serves on the Architect, Construction, & Engineering (ACE) Mentor Advisory Council to help create awareness and interest for high school and college students in the construction field. Her education background stems from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas where she obtained her Bachelor's of Science in both Bioenvironmental Science and Soil Science Management. By leveraging her technical and educational training, she continues to build strong relationships to create new and innovative ways to lead and drive success.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

I did not originally choose construction, construction choose me. I started my career as a Soil Scientist until I was approached by a owner of a roadway construction company. Glen Fuqua found my skill set valuable and urged me to join his team. Although, I was cautious at that time, I am grateful of the opportunity and the career pathway it has led me down.

 

What do you like most about your work?

I love that every day is a new challenge filled with potentially new faces. As we engage new contractors, consultants, and vendors, there is so much knowledge to be gained and relationships to be made.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Believe in yourself and keep pushing the boundaries. You can do it and you will succeed!

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

Roadway Reconstruction in South Texas. I remember feeling so unsure about how my leadership skills and how I would execute the project. The project finished 1 month early without any hiccups.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

A key perk is the vast amount of relationships you build and the diverse exposure you have access to in all departments and trades. You can truly build a community of resources and friendships.

 

Name 

Michelle Folta

Company Name 

Turner Construction

Company Website

https://www.turnerconstruction.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 2

 

Short Bio

I’m originally from Toledo, OH and I graduated in 2020 from Kent State University with a BS in Construction Management. I have a Cavalier puppy named Izzy that I love walking and taking to the beach. In my free time, I enjoy concerts, traveling, being outdoors and trying new coffee shops and restaurants around Cleveland!

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

I liked the variety that a career in construction offered; I enjoy being able to spend time in both the field and in an office. I like problem-solving and being challenged as well as the ability to work in a team environment.

 

What do you like most about your work?

I like that every day is different and I am constantly learning something new. I also love seeing a building progress; it makes my job feel meaningful knowing that I had a part in it.

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Try not to feel intimidated or discouraged about entering a predominately male industry. Work hard, take every experience as a learning opportunity, and stay true to yourself!

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

One of my first projects was the Promedica Generations of Care tower at Toledo Hospital. I remember how large the project was and it was my first time being on a buck hoist!

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

I don't have one favorite project. All of them are different and special to me in their own ways!

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

I think just educating more women at a younger age about the variety of careers you can have in construction and the perks that a career in construction has to offer. I never knew what construction management was until I was into my second year at Kent State. I had always thought growing up that working in construction meant only working in the trades. Had I been exposed to it earlier, I probably would have chosen this career path a lot sooner!

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

How fun and rewarding it can be getting to see tangible results of your work

 

Name

Alison Frye, PE

Company Name

The Lincoln Electric Company

Company Website

https://www.lincolnelectric.com/en/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 10 years

 

Short Bio

I’m a born and raised buckeye with a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in Civil Engineering and Entrepreneurship and a Master’s degree from the University of Akron in Civil Engineering. Professionally, I’ve worked as a licensed civil engineer in Ohio with a specialty in geotechnical and pavement design, construction materials, and asset management. I started my career as an engineering technician and learning how to work with every from site labors to architects to owners. I was a civil engineering consultant for most of my career and recently transitioned to a role as an owner’s representative and project manager for the facilities construction group. Outside of work, I’m an avid outdoorsperson – I love hiking, nature photography, and rock climbing. I love reading everything from fiction to comic-books to self-improvement. I’m passionate about inclusion and helping folks to enter the construction industry and find a career that fulfills them.

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

When I was in high school, I was very arts-focused. I found an interest in architecture through a senior paper that I did comparing Frank Lloyd Wright's commercial and residential styles. I started my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at OSU with the plan to pursue a Masters in Architecture. During my sophomore year, I was a freshman engineering class teaching assistant and met the Civil Engineering professor who became my research advisor. I spent a few years in the Soil Mechanics lab, fell in love with that side of engineering, changed my plan, and found a great company that did that type of engineering. The rest is history!

 

Did you have a mentor in the industry? If yes, whom?

I'm fortunate to count a few folks as mentors in the industry. John Dingeldein, Tony Thomas, Brett Iafigliola, and Jason Schwartzenberger have taught me so much about creativity and problem-solving in engineering and construction. I would not be the engineer that I am today without them. Tiffany Vorhies, Myndi Bacon, Lauline Mitchell, and Deb Lesar have taught me to challenge bias (including more own), hone my leadership and project management skills, and work to be a better version of myself. I've become a better people and project manager from knowing them.

 

What do you like most about your work?

I love the feeling when a team has found their groove as a group. I get a lot of energy when a team is driven and excited. Construction is so collaborate, and it's cool to have the opportunity to work with folks from all walks of life.

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

This industry has so many opportunities, and you don't need a college degree to find a fulfilling and well-paying career. Do some research on local construction organizations like NAWIC and CEA. Part of their mission is to recruit folks into the industry. You'll find passionate people that could lead you to the next phase in your life.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

As an engineering technician, I worked several projects at once - typically short-term. My first longer-term project was Oakwood Commons in South Euclid. We were providing construction materials services for earthwork, concrete testing, and asphalt paving to name a few. I was shadowing a senior technician, Fred Foster. What I remember most is Fred taking the time to teach me the practical side of engineering. As design professionals, we can draw a lot plans that work on paper, and not in field. That experience has stuck with me as an engineer, and I still love learning constructability from contractors and technicians.

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

This is a tough one! The Massillon Museum addition was a fun challenge. We were called in to design an underpinning detail to connect the new addition with a basement to a 1950's building with no basement. The sandy soils made the threat of undermining the 1950's building foundation very real. The challenge was to figure out how to support the existing three-story masonry wall (which was unreinforced) so the contractor could excavate the new basement. We collaborated with the design team to create a micropile and needle beam system through the existing masonry wall. The system makes an inverted "U" shape perpendicular to the wall to support it. On the outside of the wall, the contractor was then able to drive road plates into the soil between the micropiles to provide temporary earth retention. The micropiles were encased in the basement as part of the foundation system. Very unique and fun!

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

First, introduce construction as a career option middle school and high school. If I had met someone in the trades earlier in my life, I may have been an electrician. Second, companies need to evaluate where they're recruiting and their equity and inclusion practices. If we continue to recruit from the same places, we will likely recruit the same folks, and it's not enough to seek diversity. You have to make employees feel valued and included.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

There's so many different career options in construction. It's a community of contractors, skilled trades, engineers, architects, developers, business owners, insurance agents, and many more. I truly believe that there's an opportunity here for anyone from any background. There's not a lot of industries that can say that.

 

Name 

Janelle Hinkle

Company Name 

Regency Construction Services Inc

Company Website

https://www.regencycsi.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 9 years

 

Short Bio

I have a civil engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from John Carroll University. Tari Rivera gave me the opportunity to intern with Regency Construction during college, and I started full time after I graduated. I have been involved with ACE Mentoring of Cleveland for 8 years and currently serve as a board member and Education Committee chair. Last December, I became a mother with the both of our son Owen!

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

I chose construction because I wanted to be able to see the progress of my projects and help improve the built environment around me. Construction is different day to day and always has new problems to solve - it's a great opportunity for continued learning.

Did you have a mentor in the industry? If yes, whom?

Tari Rivera, president of Regency Construction, has been a mentor to me throughout my career. I hope to similarly be able to mentor young women during my construction career.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Don't be afraid to ask for advice, information, etc. There are so many experts in different areas to learn from in the construction industry and building a strong network is critical.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

Cuyahoga County Crime Lab Renovation- there were so many unique aspects in a lab renovation where forensic teams work.

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

Construction is a hard industry to work in and being a first time mother, I appreciated the support (and paid maternity leave) that I was given at Regency Construction. However, this is not standard for all companies and I think it is critical to support working mothers if the construction industry hopes to attract and retain more women.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

All the amazing people you get to meet and impactful community organizations you are able to assist with projects.

 

Name 

Kelsea Pohl

Company Name 

SME

Company Website

https://www.sme-usa.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 3.5 years

 

Short Bio

My name is Kelsea, I am a Senior Staff Environmental Engineer and I have worked at SME since graduating from Michigan State University in 2018. I moved to Cleveland, OH after college and joined NAWIC in the spring of 2019. I am now looking forward to the role of Cleveland Chapter President for 2022-2023!

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

In college, I completed a co-op with SME in their construction materials service group. I enjoyed the fast pace of the work and the exposure to different construction sites. I currently work in the environmental services group but I still get the exposure to different sites (now generally BEFORE any construction happens) and I love that I get to help developers turn brownfield sites into usable land.

 

What do you like most about your work?

I love the variety. I am constantly working on multiple projects and am either in the office, in the field sampling soil, groundwater, or soil gas, or traveling to different project sites.

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Find other women in your field right away! They will help you through any issues or insecurities and will guide you to a career that you will love.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

One of the first projects I worked on was the assessment and remediation of a site in downtown Cleveland. I loved learning about the industrial history of the site, helping to design a remediation plan, and directing the cleanup. It is so fulfilling seeing what once was a vacant lot now utilized land in a beautiful part of the city.

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

We completed an assessment on an abandoned ceramics manufacturer in mid-Ohio. It was a couple of months of out-of-town work but the history of the site and the amazing architecture throughout the facility made it worth it!

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

Show that there are more women in construction and provide flexibility.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

Feeling connected to your community and city. You directly impact its growth and feel a sense of ownership and pride with every site you work on.

 

 

Name 

Tari S. Rivera

Company Name 

Regency Construction Services, Inc.

Company Website

www.regencycsi.com  

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 40 years

 

Short Bio

Tari S. Rivera founded Regency Construction Services, Inc. in 1994 with her entrepreneurial vision, determined spirit, and solid construction background. Serving healthcare, higher education, K-12, civic, and commercial clients, she grew the firm from a 3-person start up to a $50 million dollar enterprise with a diverse staff of 45 professionals. As a Construction Management, Design/Build, and General Contracting firm, Regency’s practice has remained steadfast to Tari’s early commitment to diversity and opportunity in the workplace and to creating a professional organization that encourages and empowers women and minorities in construction. As President, Tari has ensured that Regency develops our own staff members and teaming partners through projects and opportunities that will grow their careers. As a firm, we are committed to engaging diverse subcontractor participation on our projects. Externally, through programs like ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland, Cleveland Builds, and Regency’s own Construction Academy, Tari and Regency staff alike give their time to engage with K-12 students as well as pre-apprenticeship candidates to expose them to potential careers in architecture, engineering, and construction. Tari is a member of the Executive Committee of the Construction Employers Association and has been involved in the CEA Contractors Assistance Association for many years, where she works to influence practices and models within the construction industry to increase access to contracting opportunities for female and minority-owned firms. Finally, as a Past Board Chair of the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Tari has contributed to the Foundation’s efforts to improve access to services for those in need in our community. For these efforts as well as our success as a construction management firm, Regency was recently recognized as a 2021 Progressive Organization by SMART Business Magazine.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

My grandfather and father worked for a civil engineering firm where I also interned. That experience sparked my interest in construction due to the dynamic nature of the industry...every project was different.

Did you have a mentor in the industry? If yes, whom?

Dick Just, a project superintendent who was a carpenter by trade. He was always willing to explain the construction process to me and show me how to schedule and interact with subcontractors.

 

What do you like most about your work?

I enjoy the pursuit of new projects, the challenges of learning about new products, keeping on top of industry needs around safety, workforce development and diversity.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Build a solid foundation of construction knowledge and processes; Effective communication is key; be willing to work hard and have fun.

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

5000 seat addition to the Akron Baptist Temple; the relationship the project team developed with the owner and the design team and the importance of that to the success of the project.

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

$40M addition and renovation for St. Thomas Hospital; I had the opportunity to work with the hospital leadership and I also got to know so many wonderful people who volunteered at the hospital.

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

Education, information and hands on opportunities that allow young ladies (as young as middle school) to learn about career opportunities in our industry. Programs like CLE Builds that introduce trade opportunities for apprenticeship programs; Company leadership being intentional regarding hiring practices for women and minorities.

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

The relationships that are developed.

 

 

Name 

Donna Seemuth

Company Name 

Turner Construction Company

Company Website

https://www.turnerconstruction.com/

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 18 years

 

Short Bio

I am an Information Systems Engineer with Turner Construction Company for 18 years. I started as a Co-op with the company while I was attending Cleveland State University for my bachelor’s in information systems degree. I support 125 staff across various project in the Northeast Ohio area. I am currently the President of National Association of Women in Construction Cleveland Chapter 156 and a member of the Cleveland chapter of Women for Economic and Leadership Development. On off hours, I am an amateur photographer and cat caretaker.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

Right job found me. There are not many technology companies that have been around 100 years but Turner Construction Company has. I wanted to be part of a company that i could start with and if all worked out, retire with.

 

What do you like most about your work?

Supporting my fellow team members

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Never avoid problems. If something does not work, show and define what the problem and solution is.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

Cleveland Medical Mart, That is the project where is I first saw LEAN being used in the field and in applications to save the staff, project, and owner - time, effort, and money.

 

What was your favorite project you worked on?

Cleveland Browns Stadium

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

Introduce women to hand on skill earlier and highlight the available careers

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

Being part of a project that is part of your community.

 

Name 

Rhoni Thompson

Company Name 

R.L. Cole Enterprise, Inc.

Company Website

www.RLColeEnterprise.com

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 30+ years

 

Short Bio

Rhoni Thompson, the President and Owner of R.L. Cole Enterprise, Inc., a 2nd generation woman owned trucking firm, operating in Cleveland, OH for more than 28 years. She oversees the daily operations of the business and analyzes the financial metrics, making decisions to annually increase Revenue and Gross Profit Margins. “Our goal is to be the premier aggregate transportation service in Cuyahoga and the surrounding counties.”. Rhoni began working in the family business at 12 and will proudly tell you, “Our daily efforts are to be fair and do our best every day; on every project, for every customer.”. Rhoni’s priorities, to create a consistent climate yielding continued growth every year. Since leaving her last job and closing her mental health private practice Rhoni has led RLC in the acquisition of four (4) pieces of heavy equipment: increasing revenue from year 2017 to 2021 by 55%. R.L. Cole is currently working on multiple projects, some are MetroHealth Apex, Meijer/ Fairfax, Sherwin Williams, and Cargill. “I’m a strong believer in education, learning, perfecting your craft, and asking questions. When you are a business owner the learning never ends.”.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

My choice was to do what was working. I grew up watching my parents run a trucking company. I saw what hard work, dedication and perseverance could build and I liked it and I trusted it.

 

What do you like most about your work?

That everyday is different. I am always learning, setting a new personal standard, analyzing what worked and didn't work, and of course meeting new people who are doing exactly what I'm doing; trying to be the best they can be in the space they are in. This job, my job, always demands 'your best efforts' and I am a competitor.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Go for it!. Do what you want. Right now, we are living in the best time for women to do the things that were traditionally taboo. My advice would be to work hard, learn your craft and then some, believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask questions. Know that one day one day it will all come together. This industry is full of people who want to see you succeed and those people want to help you. Lastly, I would say find a mentor or a few mentors that can help you chart your way.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

I think the most memorable project was the Juvenile Justice Center; I was a laborer. It was Summer and we started working around 6:00 or 6:30am. We had to rid the land of any greenery, garbage, trash, and debris. It was an interesting role.

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

By increasing the diversity in the talent acquisition and hiring process and upper management within the company the desired diversity will organically happen; when supported. Inclusion must always be intentional. Change must always incorporate intentional acts.

 

Name 

Jessica L VanGelder

Company Name 

Redwood Living, Inc.

Company Website

www.byredwood.com

How long have you worked in the construction industry? 3

 

Short Bio

Jessica VanGelder serves as Redwood’s Senior Vice President of Product, helping ensure Redwood’s Apartment Neighborhoods are always remarkable, whether it’s day one or day 10,000. Jessica has over 15 years of property management experience, with time spent as the President of the Greater Dayton Apartment Association, a board member of the National Apartment Association Education Institute, and Vice President of Property Operations at Redwood. A natural servant leader, Jessica is passionate about the teams she leads, the teams she works with at Redwood and the teams of external experts she works with to enhance Redwood’s unique apartment home experience.

 

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?

Construction has always been a part of my experience in the multi family industry however three years ago our CEO formed the Product Division. This encompasses all things that you can touch within our apartment neighborhoods. In June of 2019 we brought construction in house and became a fully integrated company.

 

What do you like most about your work?

The trades and our field teams, I love walking in the dirt, learning, real time problem solving are key.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in construction?

Be vulnerable, its ok to not be the smartest person in the room. Through this you gain respect.

 

What is the first project you worked on? What do you remember most about it?

We together work on 20 to 30 project a year! They all have a story -

What was your favorite project you worked on?

All of them

 

What can be done as an industry to attract more women to construction?

Be visible, be leaders , be partners -

 

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about?

Literally working with 100's of people, municipalities, nothing is the same - the jobs may look the same but they follow different codes, inspectors and its something new daily.

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