Builders Exchange of Michigan: How did you earn your first dollar?
Lindsay Alldaffer-Earley: I earned my first dollar from my dad when I was around 3 or 4. He was a semi-truck driver and part of his routine was to polish the wheels. I was little and could fit inside. It was my job to clean all the little corners and crevices, and I was proud to be helping. He taught me very early that working is essential to life, no matter who you are or what you do, everyone has a job to do.
BX: What drew you to the construction industry?
LAE: I love processes, plans, and problem-solving. It brings me great joy to overcome the challenges of taking a project from planning to completion. At the end of a project, you have helped to create something that will be there for years to come. The amazing people in this industry have brought me here as well. Many have more years of experience than I, and most are eager to pass on the knowledge that only time brings. That, to me, is invaluable.
BX: What does a typical day look like on the job for you?
LAE: There is no ‘typical day’ in construction, and I love it! My primary role is finance and administration leader, but each day I am involved in operations, sales, and estimating. I recently took on a unique project for a housing commission and have loved being the Project Manager, not a role I ever would have dreamed I’d be in.
BX: What’s an exciting project that you’ve completed recently?
LAE: My own house! I recently roofed, sided, and built a multi-level deck at my own home. It was quite a different role to be the homeowner and be on the decision end of things. I gained so many insights into how our clients feel and look forward to applying that knowledge to future projects.
BX: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
LAE: LISTEN. The customer will tell you what they want if you will listen to them. Whether you’re working with a GC on a turn-key framing project or re-roofing a fire station, the customer knows what they want. Listening will be what builds the bridge from their ideas and dreams to their reality. Listening builds trust, relationships, and rapport, which are all essential for a thriving business.
BX: What makes the company you work for, Next Chapter Construction, special?
LAE: Next Chapter is special for so many reasons. My initial response is people. We are stronger, faster, and better as a team compared to an individual effort. Combined, we have 50+ years of experience in all facets of construction. The experience and knowledge we hold make us a strong force. More than the experience though, we have grit, determination, and a passion for changing this industry. Construction demands organization, speed, and efficiency now more than ever and we see that as a raw opportunity to create change.
BX: If you could master one new skill right now, what would it be?
LAE: Public speaking. It is something I do not have a ton of experience with and would love to learn more about and increase my ability.
BX: What were your goals when you began your position at Next Chapter Construction? How have you achieved them?
LAE: My goals when I joined Next Chapter Construction were to provide support to our leadership team, organize our administrative functions, and to learn more about the install side of the business, and gain confidence. I quickly found I was capable of those things and much more. I have since joined the leadership team and sit in our finance and admin seat. I ask for help when I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t give up. There is always a way to learn and I believe as long as I’m willing, I’ll succeed.
BX: What challenges have you overcome and what experiences have you had to get to where you are today?
LAE: Just recently, I walked into a pre-bid conference with my team and was quickly noticed as the only female in a room of about 20 people. One gentleman called me out and asked the trade I intended to bid. When I answered, he laughed and asked if I’d perform the work myself. I grinned and said, “If that’s what it takes to get the job done.” Having a daughter myself, I could have allowed anger to overrule my response. Situations like this happen to many women in this industry and at that moment, you have a choice. I chose to respond with kindness and humor, which is how I would want my own daughter to respond.
BX: What advice would you give to other women who would like to go into the same career field you’ve chosen?
LAE: Speak up. There is a ton of room for us in construction and the doors are wide open. Don’t wait for someone to ask you in or show you the door. Open it, say hello, and walk right in. It is a very common misconception that women are not welcome in this industry and I couldn’t disagree more.
BX: What can other members of the construction community do to encourage women to participate in the construction industry?
LAE: I think the biggest thing we can do is educate and mentor. Through conversation, actions, and involvement we can teach our youth the importance of the trades and the opportunities that lie within this career field.
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