In an industry typically dominated by men, women continue to push the limits, encouraging others to follow suit and serving as an inspiration for how to be successful. Jane Metzger and Brigid O’Malley are business owners of construction and building material companies based in St. Paul, Minn. O’Malley and Metzger are proud representations of successful female leaders in the generally male-dominated construction arena and frequently partner with one another on commercial projects because of their dependability, trust, and ability to find solutions to any project issues that may arise.

These female leaders have created solid partnerships with other companies that seek to promote women in construction. With Johns Manville for example, they frequently partner with two women, Carly Feldmann, territory manager, and Megan Keyes, national accounts manager, forming a rare female-dominated construction supply channel. We sat down with the four professionals to discuss the industry and here’s what they had to say.

 

The Q&A

What has been the biggest challenge in working in the construction industry, and how did you overcome it?

Metzger: It can be difficult to strike a balance between being firm and skilled enough to be taken seriously without being perceived as overly aggressive. I’ve overcome this hurdle with hard work through attention to detail, competitive price offerings, and superior customer service. Consistently delivering these attributes to businesses, customers, and our community quickly shows our capabilities and earns trust. For example, we work with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring its Women Build event where several women work on housing construction together for a day. Opportunities like these give us the chance to show our community we care and are here to help and is one of the ways we differentiate ourselves.

O’Malley: Nine times out of ten, I am the only woman in the room. Oftentimes my role both in meetings and on the jobsite is mistaken for some other function, rarely ever one that is construction related. To overcome this, I always remain confident and have learned to communicate clearly and efficiently. I think effective communication is a strength that women bring to the jobsite and to this industry overall. I’m committed to inspiring other women to join the construction industry and to be a mentor. Construction is interesting, creative and fun.

 

What advice would you offer to other women interested in working in construction?

Metzger: The power of adaptability should never be underestimated—it’s an inherent trait to the industry. Always be willing to change techniques and foster relationships—whether client, supplier, or employee—with all generations, especially the younger ones that may just be entering the industry. Recognize that there is always something to learn from others to make a business better.

O’Malley: My advice would be to be resilient and resourceful. Leverage all resources and relationships available and success will follow. Carrying a project from mere concept to tangible completion is a feeling unique to our industry—recognize this and always be grateful.

Keyes: Do what is necessary to go above and beyond for customers and offer them a quality of service that they cannot find anywhere else. Providing a unique service is a great way to do this. For example, we offer customers a support program called TechConnect, which provides 24/7 onsite, on call, or online support for tricky insulation installation jobs, installation recommendations, training programs and other support items. This facilitates a direct relationship with our customers when they need it most, which is something we know they truly value.

 

Where would you like to see the industry in five years from now?

Metzger: I anticipate a trend of partnerships with vendors and independent buying groups to be increasingly important for women in the construction business; the network of support has opened so many doors for me. I am also proud to partner with companies like Johns Manville where my company feels valued and supported. We appreciate how some manufacturers promote women in the construction industry and consistently provide us with high quality products.

O’Malley: At Reiling Construction we do a lot of work with the University of Minnesota and are proud to be seeing more and more women in STEM fields—specifically in robotics and electrical and mechanical engineering. Recently, I worked on a project with a female architect with the state of Minnesota for the first time, and I’m confident this will only become an increasingly frequent occurrence in years to come. As members of the Association of Women in Construction, Jane and I help to provide scholarships to young women interested in these fields that can lead to construction and niche trades.

Feldmann: We’re lucky to have a fantastic role model with Mary Rhinehart as our chief executive officer (JM). I look forward to a time when women of all levels play a fundamental role in construction, and rather than this being a rarity, it’s instead a norm. I hope that partnerships like ours instill a sense of confidence for women interested in entering the industry—it doesn’t have to be so daunting.

Metzger Building Materials and Reiling Construction work together to create a female-led partnership where strong relationships and commitment lie central. Reiling Construction currently sources 17 percent of all products and services from women or minority-led companies. The companies look forward to a future of delivering products and services of the highest caliber to customers across the country.

 

About Metzger and O’Malley

Jane Metzger is the president of Metzger Building Materials, an 80-year-old building material company based in Saint Paul, Minn., that provides a variety of both commercial and residential distribution of products and services. As the third-generation leader of the company, much of its current success is owed to Metzger and the relationships she has diligently worked to cultivate and maintain. Since taking over her family’s business as president nearly a decade ago, Metzger carries on her family’s legacy alongside her brother and has made a steadfast commitment to ensuring that her employees, customers, and suppliers alike are attentively taken care of with respect and dedication.

Relationships have always been at the core of Metzger’s role. From maintaining key account ties for long-term sustainability, building new ones into existence, or communicating with vendors or her staff, Metzger prides herself on the strong service Metzger Building Materials delivers time and time again.

Across town, Brigid O’Malley serves as the president of Reiling Construction, a commercial and residential construction installation business with more than six decades of experience. Similar to Metzger, O’Malley took over 15 years ago for her father who ran the family business before her. O’Malley leads the business with unsurpassed dedication to her clients and her community, achieving client objectives and exceeding expectations with her commitment to successful working relationships through confident and clear communication. She exercises these attributes in her community through her foundation Spirit of Sharing, which funds local charities and in serving many local organizations. W&C