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Young professionals are hitting the ground running at construction firms nationwide. Their high energy and strong work ethic are in incredible demand as the older generation retires and employers are eager to onboard and assign new responsibilities to everyone from recent grads to individuals switching careers. 

Meet 10 motivated, rising stars who share why they entered this industry, how they are embracing cultures of safety and inclusivity, as well as what builds a foundation for a future of leadership. These young pros are just what the construction industry needs to turbocharge a major influx of project opportunities, job gaps and economic growth predicted for the next five years.

[Editors' Note: Responses have been condensed for clarity and length.] 

Joshua Bowlin
Craftforce Manager
Messer Construction Co.
Charlotte, North Carolina

Messer provided me with the opportunity to grow from a lead carpenter to the craftforce manager of the Charlotte region in just five years. I’ve been able to take on many unique roles to enhance my skill set, while remaining focused on the self-performance division.

I hope to make an impact on the culture of “craft workers” to change that mentality to “craft professionals”—a proud title to hold in our industry. 
I am always pursuing new opportunities to learn more about myself, taking on new challenges, utilizing new technologies and participating in mentoring sessions that focus on leadership.

Messer promotes a zero-injury culture. In my role, I frequently visit our multiple jobsites to conduct safety walks. I will often grab an apprentice or journeyman to walk the site with me. This produces an education opportunity to recognize and address safety. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have kept our employees safely working by implementing additional jobsite protocols: encouraging social distancing, masks and face shields, as well as cleaning tools after each use. This experience has strengthened the way we operate and the work we perform. 

Jeslyn Caballero
Corporate Safety Manager
ACECO LLC
Silver Spring, Maryland

At the age of 23, I have my associate degree in construction management and have achieved a safety manager title. As a first-generation student of immigrant parents, completing this degree was an aspiration influenced by my own experiences and my parents’ expectations. 

Leadership is the base on which all great safety cultures are built. I have fostered a culture of excellence and express this belief through my actions on all jobsites. I have implemented several new procedures throughout the years to create a work culture that is inclusive, up to speed, efficient and safe.

I pursue professional development via experience, continuous education, solving problems, taking on new challenges and having a strong work ethic.

I hope to positively impact young women in the construction industry, serving as a reminder that we, too, can take up space in a male-dominant industry. I want to be a role model to inspire others in my community to pursue the American dream. I am cognizant of the sacrifices my parents have made so that I have opportunities and a better life in the United States. 

Chad Gohl
Branch Manager
Town & Country Group
Midland, Michigan

When I started my career, I was so green. I didn’t have a degree and had never done any sort of electrical work before. But I’ve always pushed myself to improve and worked my way up. I began my career at Pyramid Controls Inc., which was purchased by Town & Country Group in 2017. 

College isn’t everything, and for so long teachers have pushed college as the only option. So many teachers and counselors are unaware of the type of life and future that can come from the trades. It’s my mission to change the perception of what a career in construction offers. 

I am a baseball coach, a basketball coach and mentor at work as well. I have been recognized as a quality control manager and am at the highest level of training for some of the largest industrial companies in Michigan. Town & Country just hired its second female apprentice in 38 years of existence because I pushed for her to be hired. We do not get female apprentice applications often and everyone can play key roles on the T&C team. Female workers are an untapped resource for the declining number of people pursuing the construction trades.

I am proud of my reputation for being approachable, as well as improving corporate culture and the personal lives of my teammates and community. People are important, and I want them to know that. You never know what a person is going through, so I’m here to listen and help professionally or personally.

Kellie Jasso
Preconstruction Manager 
Balfour Beatty
Dallas

In June 2020, I took on a leadership role in our education department as the preconstruction manager. I transitioned to a new market sector during a pandemic—and as a first-time manager. Even with those challenges, our education team rallied together and secured more than $100 million in new projects in just one year. 

In my new role, I commit to safety in every estimate or cost opinion that I provide to clients. I work with my project teams and safety director to ensure we include appropriate costs early on to address any safety concerns or challenges presented on projects while providing open and honest communication to our clients.

I am passionate about being active in the community. I participate in the local Real Estate Council and previously mentored high school students at Skyline High School in Dallas. I’ve also had the privilege of chairing several subcommittees for TREC and participating in the Associate Leadership Class, a 10-month leadership development program. 

I am proud of the students I mentored at Skyline High School, in particular a class comprised of all young women. After the program ended, one of the students continued to seek my advice throughout college and, eventually, her career in the construction industry. It meant so much that I provided her with valuable insight and continued to be a trusted resource for professional development. 

My goal is to pave the way and be an example for the minority groups I represent, whether women, the LGBTQ+ community or the Hispanic community. I strive to make positive impacts and contributions that signify success is achievable no matter your personal appearance, identity or background.

Derek Lewis 
Electrician 
Razorback Electric Inc.
Delray Beach, Florida

Associated Builders and Contractors took me in as a green electrician at the age of 22, when I knew nothing about the trade. It was my first step to becoming an electrician. 

My biggest professional accomplishment is building up the company from its start. Originally, I was just in the garage of a house I rented, and now there are more than 90 workers in an office that we own. 

In the future, I hope to push more young people in the trade and into school so that they can become the next generation of craft professionals. I am proud to allow those without experience to learn on the job, build up self-esteem and become electricians. 

I do try to be a better person and leader—not just for Razorback Electric, but for our community as well.

Rachel Lindsey
Project Coordinator
Hayden Power Group
Hazleton, Pennsylvania

I first started with Hayden in 2014 and fell in love with the industry. The field employees took me underwing when I came to work on weekends and have continued to help me over the years. Their passion and pride in their work made me see construction in a different light, giving me a better appreciation and respect for the industry. 

I have grown leaps and bounds since I first started working. My biggest accomplishment so far has been managing three small public works projects simultaneously as a 23-year-old, turning an average of 21% profit. At the time of these projects, I was serving concurrently as assistant to two project managers.  

I have also been integral to our company’s safety initiatives, serving on the safety committee, assisting with the companywide safety day, completing the ABC STEP application and maintaining the ISN account, all between 2014-2019.

I try to learn a program or complete some professional development each year so that I am continuing to learn and grow, including classes in CAD and Microsoft Project. Most recently, I became a notary public. My dad is an electrician by trade and, over the next 10 years, I hope to learn more about the medium- and high-voltage side of the electrical industry. I’d like to be as knowledgeable in that field as my dad.

Dillon Owens
Director of Operations
Tecta America New England
North Billerica, Massachusetts

I am most proud of graduating from the Paul College of Business at the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial studies, which pushed me to improvise, adapt and conquer a very challenging curriculum.

When beginning my project manager position immediately after graduating, I knew I had to self-improve if I wanted to succeed in this business. Looking back, I would say I have exceeded expectations, and continue at age 24 to grow and understand how I can make this a more productive environment for all of our employees.

Over the next decade, I hope to strengthen any outdated processes that we use in our Billerica branch. I believe that my strong technological background gives me an advantage to improve our company’s processes, creating a leaner structure for our company. 

Abby Redditt 
Project Manager
BELL Construction
Brentwood, Tennessee

I grew up in Southern California and decided to go to college in rural West Tennessee at the University of Tennessee – Martin. I left home and moved to a new place. That difficult decision forced me to grow and learn, and I am grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me since. 

My biggest professional accomplishment is my involvement in the CMGC03 Hamilton County project. After about a year of substructure improvements and planning, we completed two weekends of accelerated bridge construction where we had just 56 hours to demo and reinstall a bridge while maintaining two lanes of interstate traffic in each direction. We opened the bridge back up to interstate traffic about 11 hours early. 

I make it a priority to celebrate safety achievements, positive safety behaviors and milestones. I also believe in allowing people to rest. Mistakes happen when people are tired and not able to fully concentrate on the task in front of them. 

It is critical that people should never ask others to do something that they have not done themselves or are not willing to do themselves. Several of our members and superintendents have modeled this leadership style for their crews and/or employees, and it is humbling to watch them demonstrate good leadership. 

I hope to become more involved in alternative delivery projects. It is fun when your input gets implemented into part of the design. I also aim to continue delivering high-quality projects that benefit communities, leaving each community better than I found it. I am also scheduled to sit for the Professional Engineering exam in October 2021.

Irvyn Reyes
Estimator
DP Electric
Tempe, Arizona

My greatest personal achievement was going to the apprenticeship program right out of high school and graduating from the Arizona Builders Alliance, which made me a journey-level electrician. With the help of my mentors, I have become a full-time estimator.

I hope that I can be used as an example to young students, showing them it is possible to have a great career in construction and have no school debt. I have made a video with Build Your Future so schools can show the students my story. I am also part of a recruiting team for ACE Mentors.

I have always wanted to become a leader. After I took on a leadership role and executed that position in the field, I eventually asked to go into the office, where my career took a big change; I started taking classes, joining social groups and taking leadership classes, where I have grown immensely. I feel like there is no end to my growth, and I want to help others with that mentality.

Stephanie Rodriguez
Project Engineer/Assistant Superintendent
NV2A Group
Miami

From the moment I joined NV2A Group on the project management side, I have constantly pursued every available opportunity to me, even so far as to push the company and myself to pursue opportunities outside of the norm. 

When I was stationed at the West Kendall Baptist Health of South Florida, Country Walk project, I was identified by the superiors at NV2A Group as someone who demonstrated a dedicated work ethic with the potential for greater growth. I was then hired as the project engineer for the St. Thomas University Gus Machado College of Business project and was tasked with assignments that were foreign to me at the time, but the company leadership trusted my ability to rise to the occasion. 

I was able to exceed their expectations by helping to deliver the project successfully, becoming entrusted by my company and the client as the gateway for all project information as well as holding a close working relationship with all the project stakeholders. 

Over the next 10 years, I plan to continue developing my experience in project management to the point in which I’m leading projects as either a project manager or project executive. My goal as a leader would be to develop my team members’ understanding of what it takes to successfully manage a construction project with both administrative and field expertise. 

As the first one to strap on their boots or the last one in the office working on a change order, I hope to instill in my team the importance of a multifaceted team member and to create a new generation of multitalented professionals.

As an active member of National Association of Women in Construction, I am a regular participant in chapter meetings in which we focus on both professional development and community outreach. We focus on educational events where we encourage students of all ages to engage with the STEM field (construction in particular) via speaking engagements and local events. 

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