Member News: September 2023
Focusing on women in the industry
Building Congress & Exchange is officially kicking off its newest initiative — Women Building Baltimore —in late September.
Marianne Crampton, a BC&E Board member and Owner/Principal of MK Consulting Engineers (which has been recognized for six years as a top 50 women-owned business by the Baltimore Business Journal), had long sought to attract more female construction professionals to BC&E networking events. A noticeably high turnout of women at the BC&E holiday party last December convinced Crampton and BC&E President Michael Martin that it was time to launch a focused initiative.
Following two focus group sessions with female employees of BC&E member companies, Crampton and other volunteers created Women Building Baltimore. The fledgling group hasn’t specifically defined its mission yet, but Crampton sees opportunities for WBB to provide unique benefits to women in the industry. She hopes the September 28th event and future interactions will help Women Building Baltimore envision and begin to realize its potential.
“A lot of existing women’s groups in the construction industry focus heavily on the contractor side, so women who are in accounting, finance, business development or marketing, may not feel like that is a group for them,” Crampton said. “But those women play important roles in getting construction, design and engineering done in Baltimore. We need female insurance professionals and lawyers, accountants, business development people and marketing people to build Baltimore.”
One aim of Women Building Baltimore is to not compete with other women’s groups in the construction industry.
“We want to find our own niche and be a home to women from all facets of the industry and find a way to complement the other women’s groups,” Crampton said.
During focus group sessions, women voiced ideas for using WBB to provide networking opportunities, mentorships, educational opportunities, heightened awareness of women in the industry, a platform to show young women attractive career options in construction, a safe space to discuss challenges that women face in the industry and a “supportive community that lets women know you’re not alone,” Crampton said.
“BC&E has such a wonderful, diverse group of members that represent the entire built environment. That’s unique,” she added. “We think we can use that diversity to create a unique benefit for women in BC&E.”
Lewis Contractors’ Meet the Builder day spurs unconventional career thoughts
An uncommon career day is shifting the thinking of students, educators and construction industry professionals about career options and sources of talent.
Just before school let out for summer, Lewis Contractors held what has become an annual “Meet the Builders Day” at the Maryland School for the Blind.
“We arrange an on-campus field trip for the kids and do it in conjunction with whatever construction we are doing onsite,” said Tyler Tate, President of Lewis. “This year, we had a 3D printing company prepare a small model of the building we are currently working on. We placed the model on a site plan that we covered in various materials with different textures, like felt and different grits of sandpaper, so the kids could interpret what the plans were without having to see them perfectly. They could get a sense of space and dimensions of the building and determine where there would be grass or sidewalks or patios. This really resonated with the kids.”
In addition, Lewis created hands-on displays of construction materials and a multi-station, static equipment display that enabled students to explore construction machinery.
“You get the same kind of response to a static equipment display as you get at an airshow. It doesn’t matter if it is construction equipment or airplanes, being able to get up there and touch the equipment is exciting for the kids,” Tate said.
Lewis employees and retirees, who regularly volunteer to help with the event, were peppered with questions and multiple students showed strong interest in possible careers in construction.
“The Maryland School for the Blind has this mission of breaking down barriers and preparing kids for the real world that awaits them after graduation. That includes serious conversations about career opportunities, breaking down stereotypes and considering the range of opportunities that could put these kids on a productive and fulfilling career path,” Tate said.
“Not everyone in construction is swinging a hammer or hoisting ductwork or erecting steel. There are many business functions, design functions, technology operations where those students could make meaningful contributions,” he said. “I credit the staff of the Maryland School for the Blind for having those thoughtful conversations.
They are alerting kids to career possibilities and opening the eyes of some employers.”
BC&E welcomes two new members
Hobbs & Associates provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) products and engineering services to commercial and industrial building contractors, architect-design firms and business owners. Hobbs helps create enduring community infrastructure such as schools and colleges, hospitals, military and municipal structures, entertainment venues, hotels and multi-family housing. https://hobbsassociates.com/
Well Built Construction Consulting provides strategic consulting to owners, developers, contractors, architects and engineers. The firm’s mission is to help to build better construction companies and better project teams by delivering strategic consulting, facilitation services and peer roundtable environments for construction executives. https://www.wellbuiltconsulting.com/