Building with Heart: Women in Construction

Did you know that March 3-9 is National Women in Construction Week?! We sure did over at Beautiful Chaos™! To celebrate, I teamed up with Missy Scherber, the owner and general manager of T. Scherber, a demolition and excavating company.

Currently, only 9 percent of construction workers are women. Both Missy and I see the value that women bring to this industry and care deeply about changing these stats. This month, we hope to dispel any misconceptions that come with working as women in this field. Read on to hear our stories!

How did you join the construction industry?

Sarah Martin: I am the 5th generation of carpenters & contractors in my family. My great-great grandpa was a Norwegian carpenter that migrated to the U.S. in the late 1800s. From there, the skill and love for this craft has been carefully passed down to each consecutive generation. Truly, I got to learn from the best: my dad. He has taught my brother, me, and now my husband, every aspect of residential construction. His philosophy is that you learn and do everything before you get to design anything ? So, yes, that meant laying brick before I could select the curtains…

Missy Scherber: I joined this industry through meeting my husband Trevor. He was a second generation earthmover who had started with a dumpster company and after 5 years was letting that sit so he could start an excavating company. I begged him to let me take over the dumpster company, I had always wanted to apply my skill set to business and was somewhat comfortable around trucks as my grandpa had owned a trucking company. So with no experience or knowledge in the construction industry, I took over the dumpster company and now own 51 percent. My professional background was in fundraising for nonprofits so I was very motivated to find an avenue to make more money so that I could give back to the causes I cared about.

As a woman were you nervous to join the construction world?

SM: Not at all! It has been nothing but an incredible experience! Once in awhile, I feel like I have to “prove” my worth to the boys. But, overall, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and love every minute of it!!!

MS: Not at all to be honest with you. I was excited at something so unique and different. Everyone I worked with from the start welcomed me with open arms including my husband and his dad. I get a little nervous now at times. More than I used to. When I’m going into a meeting with big players in the industry whom are all male. But I try to think back to my first time on site in the truck, the excitement I felt to learn something new.

Do you have degrees in your respective fields? Are they necessary?

SM: During my fourth year of studying to be a marriage & family counselor, I decided to instead carry on the family trade. I had been learning the trade from my dad since I was a little girl and I knew it was where my heart belonged. Although my dad and brother were there to teach me the craft and everything about the construction process, I was self-taught when it came to becoming a designer. My interior design education came to be in the midst of “figuring it out” over the span of a decade, to where I am now. Gosh, I made some mistakes along the way, but I wouldn’t trade my education process for the world!!!!

MS: I do not have a degree but I do feel if you’re able to go to trade school before joining the ranks that is really valuable in the industry right now. So much of the work in the trades is learned on the job and mastered with putting in hours on the job-site, so I’m not sure it’s necessary, but again knowledge is always power.

What are benefits to being a woman in construction? Why should younger women join the industry?

SM: It is an AMAZING industry for women! There is such a huge opportunity to bring love and {heart} to the process of constructing homes! What’s more, there are so many different things to do within the construction industry. All of which, host the opportunity to use brains, brawn & beauty ?

MS: Being a woman in construction is such a unique role right now because there are so few of us. There’s almost an instant respect for the few because we’re willing to get down in the dirt and pave the few for the future generations of women. Young women should join this field because we’re experiencing such a huge labor shortage right now. This creates a unique opportunity to jump right in and climb the ranks within a company quickly.

You both are on a husband and wife team! Is this challenging? Do you have any advice for couples who work together?

SM: The first year that Jayme and I worked together in Beautiful Chaos was incredibly challenging. We were figuring out how to work together and just stay married ? Our sweet spot in mastering it all occurred when we clearly defined our roles in the company, in our family, and in our marriage. We learned to let the other do their thing, their way. Now, we complement one another as we consistently encourage, appreciate and nurture the other. Also, we have learned to really protect our family & love life…giving them the time and attention needed so that we can remain a strong team. Now, I love working with my husband and would not want it any other way!!!

 

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MS: The first few years were tough. Figuring out how to find the balance of work time and personal time and not get offended so easily when we have different ways of doing things. What really broke the barrier for us was giving each other instant respect every single day. Also not get offended easily or take things personal on the job. To find a comfort in knowing that were in this together with the same goal in mind, maybe different ideas on how to get there but the sweet spot is finding the best of those ideas and bringing them together. The more we respected each others voice and ideas the more we found that sweet spot.

 

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To hear more about their experiences, please join us for a joint Instagram Live with Sarah and Missy on Sunday, March 24! More details to come!

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