From March 5 to 11, 2023, we celebrate Women in Construction Week. This weeklong event honors the accomplishments of female employees in the construction industry, including those working in disaster recovery and restoration.
As part of this year’s celebration, we are featuring women from across the country who are making a difference at ATI and in the industry. Here is a closer look at their accomplishments.
Maribel joined ATI 18 years ago. While she wasn’t too familiar with the restoration industry at first, she liked the job “since day one.” She worked for three days with a temp agency before the ATI manager saw potential in her and offered her a position with the company.
Since then, Maribel says working at ATI has afforded her amazing opportunities. “I enjoy working with customers. You are getting paid while you help people.” Plus, she has learned a lot. “Every day is different,” she said. Because she supports all market segments, including both residential and commercial, every day her work is in a different environment and gives her a chance to support all types of customers. Her work has also helped her grow. “I was very shy at the beginning and now I enjoy working and talking with customers. I really love what I do.”
For women considering jobs in the restoration industry, Maribel said, “Some women coming in to the industry think this is a man’s job. But I tell the new women on my team to give it a chance. You will like it. You can start out as a technician, become a lead, and then become a supervisor. This is a career.”
Grecia didn’t plan a career in construction. Initially, she was interested in becoming a probation officer, but then started working part-time in collections with a restoration company. After learning about the industry, she knew she wanted to help people pick up the pieces after a disaster. So, Grecia transitioned to the field supporting fire restoration work and then expanded her skill sets to support projects involving water, mold, and sewage. Along the way, she took classes to get her certification in asbestos abatement too.
Grecia has worked in the construction industry for seven years and has been with ATI for three of those years. In her role as Project Director, she serves as the face of the project, working closely with insurance companies, residential and commercial customers, and healthcare customers. Using her strengths in communication and empathy, she loves “being able to calm people down, walking them through what’s going to happen and giving them a helping hand.”
When asked what advice she would give to women considering careers in restoration and disaster recovery, she suggested that they should be open-minded. “I never even knew that restoration was a business. Even though the industry is dominated by men, I’m just as valued.” Grecia believes she succeeds in this job because, as she says, “I care about people, their pets, and their belongings, and that comes through in my work.”
For more than 30 years, Nancy Kirk has been making waves in the restoration and reconstruction industry. Her journey began when she and her husband founded a carpet cleaning company and started pursuing disaster recovery jobs. Later, she became the president of construction at an investment banking and wealth management firm, where she started as a residential reconstruction estimator before working her way up to managing the reconstruction division and mold remediation teams. Three years later, Nancy founded her own investment firm focused on commercial construction, where she refined her skills in estimating, contracts, quality control, and project accounting for remodeling and ground-up construction.
Starting in 2011, Nancy held leadership positions for several restoration companies before joining ATI as a Regional Manager in 2019. At ATI, Nancy managed operations, including strategic planning and forecasting, customer care, quality control, purchasing, and team development. She also oversaw all construction projects from conception to completion. Today, Nancy is responsible for all aspects of the operations across the Central region.
Nancy has set an example for women across ATI by becoming the company’s first female Regional Manager, first female Regional Director, and first female Regional Vice President. To other women looking to follow in her footsteps, she suggests, “Do you, because nobody else can do you. Everyone brings different things to the table, so it’s important to leverage your own expertise and do your best in the restoration industry. The real you will always come out, so accept the fact that being yourself is enough, and do that fully.”
For 20 years, Nora ran her own construction company. She then started working as a subcontractor to a company ATI acquired in 2020. ATI offered Nora a position as Project Manager, and she jumped in with both feet. “My values aligned wholeheartedly with those of ATI before I even knew ATI,” she explained.
Today, as Regional Manager, Nora is responsible for overseeing operations at the Flemington, New Jersey office, which includes nearly 40 management, administrative, and field team members. She is excited to come to work every day because of her team, which she calls her “family.” She added, “Everyone is willing to reach out and support each other, from sales and technical assistance to job opportunities. For example, when the call went out for help during recent hurricanes, so many hands went up.” She also notes how empathetic her team members are. “Being able to help customers put their homes back together pays off in so many ways. Customers still call me today; they’ve become my friends.”
For others looking to join the industry, she advises, “Ask all the questions you can ask — and don’t settle for where you are. You want to move up with this company. It’s the way to go.”
Silvia has worked for ATI for 20 years. As a Supervisor, she oversees her crew and performs detail-oriented tasks. From the moment she gets the schedule in the morning, Silvia is on the go. She pulls supplies for the job, loads up vehicles, and then, depending upon the job, she may work on pack-outs or contents manipulation, and handles a host of other responsibilities in her day-to-day work.
She joined ATI for more stability after working with an agency. She explained, “I never knew this kind of job existed. I don’t just like it. I love it.” What draws Silvia to her work is its impact. Recalling one of the first jobs she did with ATI, she remarked, “Wow, I cleaned this customer’s items, which may have been in their family, and passed down for generations. Returning them back without the damage made our client happy, and it made me happy too.”
For others looking for work in restoration, she observes, “This place is your home away from home. It’s like a family reunion when we get together for in-person gatherings, like our Christmas party.”
Lisa, who joined ATI last year, loves the physical work of construction, from demolition to restoration. What appeals to her is walking the job site, getting the crews scheduled, showing samples of materials, and overseeing all the repairs — in short, everything she does as a commercial and residential project manager.
Yet, what she enjoys most is helping people get back in their homes so they can get their lives back. “I’ve seen it all, from houses flooding to catching fire or even cars driving through them…People have been through devastating times. It feels good to help them.” Plus, she loves that her job doesn’t keep her stuck behind a desk. Lisa likes driving to new job sites, working with a lot of different people, and helping her clients recover from property loss.
Her advice to women is “you’re just as good as the guys on the job. I feel proud of the position I’m in. I started from the bottom and worked my way up.”
Brandi joined the company in 2022, and she’s got a career spanning two decades in the industry. When discussing her experience, she mentioned, “My dad was a building inspector, my brother owns a construction company, and my older sister is a construction office manager. Construction is in my blood.”
Brandi spends her time supporting customers and third-party administrators (TPAs) as our field crews work through restoration and disaster recovery projects. In addition to office-based work, she also travels to job sites and recently went to work in the field on a project involving a flooding hospital. She explained, “I love helping people. It ties into ATI’s CARES values.” In fact, Brandi was selected to become a CARES Ambassador this year, finding new ways to support her team and community. As a CARES Ambassador, she helps lead fundraising efforts for nonprofits and holds team-building events to build staff morale.
From working at ATI, Brandi says she has learned a lot about herself. “I can do more than I ever thought. There are people here who believe in me. ATI supports me and helps me build on my strengths and address my weaknesses.”
As for women joining the industry, she advises, “Construction used to be just a man’s world, but it’s not anymore. Go for it. Strive for what you want, and just do your best.”
Thank you to ALL of the amazing women of ATI — including those featured here and many, many more — who play a fundamental role in ATI’s success by providing disaster recovery services to clients nationwide.
To learn more about opportunities to build your career with ATI, visit our Careers page.