The Brick Chick was born
Once upon a time that seems as if it were eons ago (although it was only 2003), when cell phones were walkie-talkies and plans were only printed on paper, I found myself in a trailer on a job site at a beautiful golf course where we were constructing a large amount of segmental block retaining walls throughout the course fairways and installing pavers throughout the property as well. The site was serene and gorgeous, foursomes of men gracefully teeing off golf balls and laughing at the latest joke they read on AOL’s homepage. A crane could be seen bathing in one of the water hazards and from the 9th tee, you could no longer see the cars on the street.
The piles of paper and chaos seemed to be never ending inside of the trailer though, the project superintendent in a constant state of panic and hustle. “The concrete guy said he would be here Monday and it’s already Thursday!” “The irrigation guy said that his pipe was lost en route to his shop and they cannot locate the fittings either!” “The window guy has leaks in all 32 windows they just put in a month ago!” There was no shortage of profanities and dilemmas and hurdles to jump over in the 10’x30’ trailer sitting in the middle of this seemingly peaceful setting.
As I sat there in his trailer, waiting my turn, to discuss the issues and tribulations pertaining to my little scope (that paled in comparison to the other problems the superintendent was currently battling), two things dawned on me.
There was a lot of “guys.” No one had a name, they only had a trade. The door guy. The asphalt guy. The drywall guy. And one thing that was abundantly clear was that I was not a guy. I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle of guys (and trades) yet simultaneously understand and appreciate that other scopes and items were at times more important than ours. How do I differentiate myself and our company from the rest?
The other thing I realized was that these trades were really making it tough on this superintendent who legitimately knew his stuff and wanted to get things done. The excuses and blown deadlines and broken promises flowed like the waterfall on the 13th green. Why was it so tough to deliver on a commitment or schedule or plan that had been agreed to?
After the superintendent’s tirade berating the fountain guy for not having the proper manpower to complete the installation by their deadline, he turned to me and asked “Who are you and what problems do you have for me now?” And in that moment, I knew that I wanted to be better for my clients so that they didn’t have to feel this way about every sub they were forced to deal with as a result of their offices or project managers hiring them on their behalf.
I said, “It seems like there are a lot of ‘guys’ on this project and while I appreciate their trade and roles, I do not necessarily want to be a part of their club. Just call me the Brick Chick, that way you won’t forget the contractor who owes you the paver brick plaza and block wall installations and you can also rest assured that we’ll be ready when you are and are here to help.” He seemed stunned, in total disbelief, as if I was speaking a foreign language. “The Brick Chick,” he repeated. “Here to help? Do you have some kind of super power?”
Did I have super powers? Of course not and still don’t today. However, I knew in that moment that I was different not only because of my gender but also because of my desire to be the best for my clients at all efforts and costs in an industry that put very little (if any) emphasis on client satisfaction. I wanted to be different. And I wanted my company to be different than all the rest of the “guys” out there. The Brick Chick was born this day and her standards have been implemented as par for the course ever since.