Staples Construction Celebrates Women’s History Month

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March is Women's History Month, and we're looking back over the past 30 years at the women who have helped shape our industry.

The impression from any outsider of a construction firm would most likely coincide with the readily available is a male dominated industry. And while that's true — at a resounding 90.1% men — Staples has always been unique. Employees who have been a part of our family the longest recall a time when the office was predominately women. Today, nearly half of Staples' leadership roles are held by women and almost a quarter of its total workforce is female...nearly double the national rate for the industry.

When questioned about how he's managed to easily bypass this statistic, owner and president of the company David Staples states that he follows one simple rule: you hire the best person for the job.

Of the many strong woman at our firm, two at the core of Staples Construction are Senior Project Manager Lori Sayles, and Senior Contract Analyst Jennifer Sourwine. With a combined service record of 36 years, these ladies have been with the company from the very beginning. We took some time to sit down and get their thoughts about the progression of Staples' history and the space they've made for themselves within the construction industry.

It doesn't take long after joining Staples Construction to learn that the office is a close-knit group. That feeling has progressed throughout the company's history, and it's something that Lori Sayles and Jennifer Sourwine recall being one of the company's core values that they found so appealing. "At my first interview, I could tell the environment and the people would be a great fit for me," Jennifer reflects, "I honestly can say I never thought about working in construction prior to that interview, but after that, I knew I would enjoy working with the people in this company."  Jennifer started out in administration and moved into a contract analyst and human resource role.  As the company continued to grow, she made the decision to hand off the HR workload and focus on her strengths as a contract analyst.

As for Lori, she fell into construction right out of college. Graduating from Cal Poly SLO, she found an entry-level position with a company in Carpinteria coding and inputting invoices. Fast forward, and Lori has held roles within the industry as job cost analyst, accounts receivable, billing, project coordinator, controls, and construction manager.  Once joining Staples, Lori went from estimator to Director of Construction, eventually settling into a role as Senior Project Manager where she can focus on her clients on a daily basis. What's kept her here, she says, is building relationships within the community, whether it be with internal personnel, owners, architects, or subcontractors.

Lessons Learned & Advice to the Future

A successful, longstanding career is going to be accompanied by a multitude of trials and tribulations that ultimately lead to seasoned experience. When asked about key lessons learned over the course of their career, here are Lori and Jennifer's key tips:

  • If it's not done in writing, it doesn't exist.
  • Change is inevitable. We need to adapt and learn from the discomfort that might cause.
  • Treat people how you want to be treated - for work and personal relationships. Be ready to listen to others' ideas and opinions.

When asked what advice they'd give to women newly entering the construction industry, Lori says "Go for it. There are amazing opportunities for women in construction, and I have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful and talented women in the industry over the years. Find subcontractors and professionals that you respect and enjoy working with to build relationships and trust...these relationships will last your entire career."

Jennifer says that her advice extends beyond the construction field. "My advice for young women entering any field is to have confidence in yourself and treat everyone with respect. You don't have to know everything to be confident. Just be confident in your ability to question and understand. Be confident in the truth that you have contributions to make and ideas to share."

Outside of those items, Lori and Jennifer definitely agree on one thing - do what you love and don't be intimidated by a historically male-dominated profession. If you have the passion for the industry, then you belong here and there is a space for you.

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