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Focusing on Women Working in a Variety of Construction Related Positions to During Women in Construction Week

March 7, 2024 News

With construction exploding in Polk County, thanks to the increasing number of businesses and residents moving here, our local companies stay busy.  

More than 52% of the civilian workforce in Polk County was female from 2018 to 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

In December 2023, the latest statistics available, almost 15,000 people worked in construction in Polk County, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number is not broken down by gender, but as more women enter the workforce post-COVID, and the construction industry remaining steady, the number of women in construction could also be rising. 

Surprised? Checkr.com doesn’t think you should be. The company, which checks backgrounds for businesses, analyzed data from the largest cities in the U.S. and found Lakeland was the best place for women to work in 2023.  

To celebrate the women working in a male-dominated industry, March 3-9 is the 26th annual Women in Construction Week, which “celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry. This year’s theme, ‘Keys to the Future’, celebrates the strength and knowledge of women and the vital role they play in shaping the future of the construction industry,” according to wicweek.org. 

During the week, the National Association of Women in Construction offers a variety of events, from leadership panels and educational resources available to advance your career to safety in the workplace and emerging professions. 

SpringerVoss Construction President & CEO Jeremy Voss said the women he works with bring special talents to the table. 

It is important having women in the workplace to diversify perspective and situational awareness in an otherwise male dominated industry. The women on our team are very organized, timely and regimented in their operational routines. They are also more creative at times in terms of presentation materials. Their drive and work ethic helps propel others around them forward. The women on our team have been a blessing, and we would encourage more women to get involved in construction, as it can be a very rewarding career. 

Jeremy Voss, President & CEO

The company treats all its employees fairly and tries to be flexible, allowing employees to bring a kid to work or pick one up, take time off to get married or go on a honeymoon, he said. “We are also supportive of maternity leave, should it play into the life cycle of our team members.” 

Several women at companies in Polk County shared their experiences and what led them to the construction industry. In addition, you can watch a video on a female construction worker at www.cfdc.org/life/  

Ridgeback Mechanical

Mieka Patzer, co-owner and the CFO for Ridgeback Mechanical in Lakeland, said the construction industry chose her, starting when she began dating Brannon “Bo” Patzer, who she eventually married. “I have been familiar with the industry since I was a teenager, dating Bo. My husband worked for his dad, who owned Central Mechanical. It was a natural fit when we decided to start Ridgeback, working alongside my husband. We have always been a team, so we remained that going into business.” 

Patzer handles the business side of Ridgeback, including payroll, accounts payable/receivable, insurance – everything the company needs to operate.

We have a great team here, and we each bring something of value. I would like to think that my team knows they can come to me and feel confident that whatever it is they need will be handled. I’m a problem-solver and get things accomplished.

Mieka Patzer, Co-Owner and CFO

SpringerVoss Construction

SpringerVoss Construction in Lakeland employs five women.  

Office manager Cassie Costa started in construction as a Business Development coordinator for a general contractor in 2015. “I chose construction because I wanted to learn something new, and there is an abundance of things to learn in this field.  I also wanted to challenge myself into the unknown, and I ended up loving it.” 

Her goal is “to continue to grow my knowledge of construction that will further develop my career and possibly grow into the Business Development side or back into Project Management.” 

Project manager Courtney Imoff manages day-to-day operations at construction sites. She got into construction as a new challenge in 2021, when she trained under her older brother as an assistant project manager for a general contractor. “Originally in healthcare management, this provided a new challenge for me, and I ended up really enjoying it.” 

She learns something new each day, and there’s never a dull moment, she said. “I enjoy being able to learn the different aspects of the field and watching buildings be constructed from the ground up.”  

She wants to learn as much as possible and continue to advance in Project Management, she said. “I would eventually love to be able to get my general contractor’s license and see what doors that would open.” 

Amanda Metz is the Finance & Administration manager, a role in which she oversees all accounting department activity and financial data. “I lucked into a job at an electrical contractor’s office doing accounting, which was construction at the trade level. At the time I had no idea how unique the accounting sector is for construction.  After that I moved to working on the trade side at a door company and then finally into the general construction sector.  Each area of construction differs, and it has been instrumental to my career to have had experience in both areas of the field.” 

Metz said she thrives on challenges, and construction accounting offers those daily. “When things get complicated with job costing, I get excited.” 

She would like to “encourage other women to find the challenge that construction offers. It is very rewarding, and I love to share the knowledge I have gained in my previous experiences. Besides mentoring other women, I love to help guide our project teams with the financial side of their projects and help them build their knowledge.” 

Jessica Hidalgo works in the company’s Preconstruction Estimating Department. “I assist our pre-con team with estimating and spearheading marketing deliverables, as necessary,” she said.  

Like others, she “fell” into the construction field while studying digital media and marketing. “I joined a mechanical, electrical and plumping firm as a marketing coordinator, and I fell in love with this side of marketing. I knew I was in the right industry, just not the right sector.” 

She enjoys the camaraderie in the industry, she said. “Over the past few years, I knew I wanted to use my talent and skills from my degree and transfer them over into the field I grew up in. … I want to master how the construction industry operates as a whole and dial it in to tackling every project that comes through our door. I want to be able to grow from where I am now, learning all the small and basic details” to grow and advance, assisting others as they prepare projects. 

Tucker Paving

Tucker Paving hosted special events to during the week to celebrate the women within their firm.

Construction Academies 

Polk County Public Schools continues to prepare students for careers in construction through its Construction Academies, most modeled after the first one at Bartow High School. 

In addition, construction academies are also located at Fort Meade, Lake Region and Tenoroc high schools. The fact that about 165 teens attend each of the programs each year shows students are interested in the construction field. 

The academies benefit local construction companies by providing them with a pipeline of new employees. That’s especially true for the companies that support the academies. 

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