Building America: Women in Construction

Published on July 12, 2016

All month, Bobcat Company is recognizing the hardworking men and women who build and improve America for everyone. With many construction companies facing labor shortages and recruiting problems, we need to encourage more young people – males and females – to consider skilled labor professions.

“Working at a parts counter, you have to know how to run a piece of equipment and also how to fix and diagnose issues with machines. I like the mechanics of how something works: If you turn this, then this will happen. If you run it at half throttle, it does this.”

Mechanics and parts, you could say, are Shannon Kellogg’s passion.

Now in her fourteenth year in parts and her third year at Finke Equipment, a Bobcat dealership outside Albany, New York, Kellogg began her career managing the parts inventory at a small equipment business. There, an engine repairman saw Kellogg’s talent and mechanical interest, and began teaching her how to rebuild carburetors.

Owning a Business

For Melissa Winter, who has a master’s degree in human resources and a background working in HR for a top Fortune 500 company, starting Rose City Concrete & Construction is one of the best decisions she ever made.

A fourth generation construction worker, Winter launched her concrete business 19 years ago with only a small Nissan pickup truck, a Bobcat S130, sledgehammer and a pry bar. Today the Portland, Oregon, company boasts 12 employees and specializes in flat concrete work, including sidewalks, driveway approaches and patios.

“It’s the best thing I ever did,” Winter says. “I make more money at it. I’ve got my own hours. And there’s nothing better than when you have customers hug you and say, ‘Thank you. This looks so great. You guys did a wonderful job.’ They recommend me, and I don’t even have to advertise.”

Achieving Success

Occasionally prospective Rose City customers have cancelled bids when they found out that a woman was going to assess the jobsite, Winter says, but she doesn’t let that bother her.

“I don’t have to ask why. That’s fine, that’s not a job I need to do then,” Winter says. “People are going to make comments about me being a woman, and I just let it roll. I don’t consider myself any different than anybody on my crew. I’m only 5’5”, but I can out wheelbarrow some of the guys, and I’ve been working with concrete longer than many on my crew. I use the same tools, I drive the trucks, I operate the Bobcat machine. I get the job done.”

Rose City’s Bobcat S130 (affectionately nicknamed “Bob”) and a breaker attachment allow Winter and other female workers to do the same jobs as the male employees, Winter says.

“This machine is an absolute equalizer. With the Bobcat S130, it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a guy — jobs take the same amount of time.”

Despite her expertise in the parts field, Kellogg, too, still occasionally encounters customers who dismiss her based on her gender. But, she says, those experiences have instilled in her a drive to succeed — and to prove that a woman can do the job just as well as a man. In fact, Kellogg now has customers who opt to only work with her, texting or calling her after hours for maintenance emergencies.

“People are programmed that the man knows better, but I’m here to tell you that that is not always correct,” Kellogg says. “I have always been the woman in the man’s world. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that what I’ve had to face has made me the woman I am today: confident, outgoing, and a hell of a problem solver.”

Winter notes that she sees women working in construction more often in recent years.

“I can’t drive down the street without coming across a construction site, and I see at least two women working at each one. Five years ago, I wouldn’t see any.”

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