National Women in Construction Week, March 7-13, 2021, recognizes women in the construction industry—from engineers and laborers to CEOs, accountants and office managers. The annual tribute helps dispel stereotypes and promotes the many ways women can build careers in this male-dominated industry. It’s an opportunity to celebrate females who serve in a full range of construction and construction-related roles and make the industry stronger.
Rochester Women Magazine salutes all women in the construction field, including four area professionals who work in interior design, flooring and painting and drywall. These women often work alongside frontline construction workers, applying their expertise to numerous types of projects. In the middle to later stages of residential construction, the fruits of their labor come to life.
Bridging the gap
Women in Construction Week was founded by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). The Southeast Minnesota Chapter of NAWIC is supported by employers and the Rochester-area community and provides opportunities for networking, education and professional and personal development. “All women in construction are welcome,” says Jodi Wiemerslage, who serves as the local president. “From business owners, human resources, saleswomen and field personnel—when you walk through the doors of NAWIC, you belong.”
Office Manager/Co-owner, Creative Hardwood Floors
Advice: Continue to push through; don’t be afraid to speak up and to be confident in your abilities.
Background: I grew up in Chatfield and live in Rochester with my husband, Tom, and my daughter, Marren; my son, Macayle, lives in Minneapolis. I am the co-owner of Creative Hardwood Floors and have been with the company for 17 years.
Beginning career: My dad, Jim Brogan, started Creative Hardwood Floors. I learned so much from him and am proud to follow in his footsteps. I also work with my cousin and business partner, Tony Horsman. Being part of a family-owned business is the best job!
What I do: I oversee all the daily operations of the business, but my favorite part of the job is helping clients pick out their hardwood floors. Whether it’s new construction, a remodel or refinishing an existing floor, I enjoy seeing everything come together.
Challenges and rewards: A challenge is finding valuable employees. There are so many careers in the industry that people aren’t aware of. It’s a male-dominated trade, and it can be hard to be taken seriously. What’s most rewarding is when a client tells me how much they love their flooring!
Success factors: Flooring is one of the first things you see when you walk in a home. Having the hardwood floors tie into the cabinets, countertops and paint is an important factor for homeowners.
CEO Junge’s Flooring
Advice: Just be yourself and don’t let others make you feel inferior.
Background: I grew up in Foley, a small town by St. Cloud. I graduated from high school there and went to Rasmussen Business College. I have been in the flooring industry since 1999.
Beginning career: I began at Multiple Concepts Interiors in Waite Park, Minnesota, and worked with a commercial project manager/designer team. What draws me to this work is that every project is different and the satisfaction I feel once a project is complete, in addition to the joy that people have in seeing their completed project.
What I do: At Junge’s Flooring, we do everything—carpet, luxury vinyl plank, vinyl, laminate, hardwood, ceramic tile and complete bathroom remodels with waterproofing showers and heated floors. We also do window coverings and work with Cambria and Amish custom cabinets.
Challenges and rewards: A challenge is finding just the right product for the customer. Motivations include seeing a satisfied customer once the project is complete. At first it was intimidating to be in a field that is mostly maledominated. I think there will always be room for improved attitudes.
Success factors: We provide the finished product, so success is contributing that “look” that the client is asking for and achieving it. We work closely with plumbers (bathroom remodels), trimmers and electricians. They all play a part in getting the project completed.
Interior Designer, Elias Construction
Advice: Every project provides an opportunity to deepen knowledge and build better business relationships with each other.
Background: I grew up in Northfield and have three sons—two in college and one in high school. I have an Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design degree from Dakota County Technical College and have worked in the industry for over 10 years.
Beginning career: I went back to college after being a stay-at-home mom for a decade. Designing home environments that improve the way homeowners feel in their space is very rewarding. Seeing a project go through all the stages from concept to final completion is so satisfying.
What I do: I assist clients in the design and selection processes for items that are permanent, such as plumbing and hardwired light fixtures, kitchen cabinetry and fireplace stone. My work involves understanding client goals for their new space. Elias Construction projects include interior remodeling, additions and new home construction.
Challenges and rewards: Every project is different, which is rewarding and challenging. Hunting for items such as authentic Delft tile from the Netherlands, which involves navigating time zones and language barriers, is one example of the unconventional circumstances that make my role fun!
Success factors: I rely on professional women that specialize in their respective fields, leaning on their expertise to make appropriate design decisions for our clients. I also interact with other trades such as tile, flooring, countertops, plumbing, painters, cabinetry and electricians.
Office Manager/Accounting Clerk, Sorenson Painting and Drywall
Advice: For women considering a construction-related career, opportunities to continually learn while earning a competitive wage are highly achievable in this industry.
Background: I was born and raised in Minnesota and graduated from John Marshall High School in Rochester. I worked in the trucking industry as a customer service manager for several years.
Beginning career: I later received an accounting clerk diploma at Rochester Community and Technical College and have been working at Sorensen Painting and Drywall for over six years. My position allows me to utilize my education while managing a thriving commercial painting and drywall business with more than 60 employees.
What I do: My duties include office management, accounts receivable/payable and payroll. In residential construction jobs, my organizational, accounting, purchasing and customer service skills are essential to a successful project. I enjoy working with our foremen and crews to complete a subcontract successfully.
Challenges and rewards: As a finishing (painting) contractor reliant on others to complete their work before we can start ours, we are often challenged with playing catch-up to complete a project as scheduled. Other setbacks may relate to weather, available materials and skilled workers—and, of course, a pandemic. I enjoy the diversification of each project.
Success factors: As a board member of the NAWIC Southeastern Minnesota Chapter, I am proud to support and encourage the growth of women in construction. Our chapter has more than 40 members, and we have a fantastic group!
This article is part of a series about women working in different phases of construction.