Teresa Mast, president of Sarasota-Manatee Professional Women in Building (PWB), was surprised when fifty women showed up at the first meeting of the organization last year. Mast, who is also president of her company, the custom building and remodeling Davin Group, has been in the business for twenty-six years, and sees it as her goal to encourage women and girls to pursue work in the construction industry.
“We’re working really hard at training programs, at educational programs and trying to reach them younger and younger,” Mast said. “We never want to discourage anyone from going to college, but college isn’t for everyone. There is an opportunity to get out of school and hit $60,000 as soon as you touch the ground in construction.”
One member of the group is Jessica Percel, who was working as a waitress fifteen years ago, when one of her long-time customers, Dustin Pointer, invited her to apply at his pool construction company. She started as a secretary at Coast to Coast Pools, but worked her way up to production manager.
“I needed to figure it out,” Percel said. “I wanted to work. I wanted to find out what it was that made me happy. Construction makes me happy. I love it.”
She is now the construction manager at Taylor Morrison, one of the biggest builders in southwest Florida. She credits the PWB and her association with the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association for her success. Last year she was named their Young Professional of the Year.
Women are making many inroads into the construction industry lately, an industry that has long been dominated by men. Groups like the PWB are making a huge impact on the lives of women.
Said Jon Mast, a member of the PWB council, “It’s very important to us that we provide a space for women to be heard and find leadership.”
To learn more about women in construction and the PWB, read this article in the Herald Tribune.