In this week’s Behind the Build, we speak with Becky Strait, Project Engineer for a Bradenton, Florida-based general contractor, Oden Hardy Construction. Initially starting in Financial Services, Becky shares more about her 17-year journey within the building sector. From having the opportunity to work on ground-breaking and sustainable projects to experiencing the first-hand effects of automation in construction, read her story below.
What first got you into construction?
When I first applied to a job at a small, now defunct construction company, it was for a role in my original field, Financial Services. However, the Sales Manager who interviewed me believed I had the potential to do much more than the original job I was interviewing for. He asked for a couple of weeks, during which he got approval from the company owner and created a job for me.
Why do you continue to build today?
Construction is a fascinating field where there is always something to learn, and it feels good to be a part of the evolution of an area. It’s an industry where you can literally watch as your work goes from an empty piece of land to a beautiful, functional building!
Do you have any stories from your first couple of weeks on the job?
My first week on the job, my new boss and I visited our local sites so I could get a feel for the projects. On the last one of the day, one of our workers stopped working and stood up and just stared at me but we weren’t introduced. Several months later, when he was working in the home office, he struck up a conversation and we started talking. Soon, we started dating and have now been married for over 14 years.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
I was a part of the development and construction of a used oil re-refinery. The project takes millions of gallons of used motor oil away from being burned as fuel polluting the environment and turns it into very high-quality lubricating oil. This both saves the environment from being polluted by burning dirty oil but also reduces our dependence on crude oil so less is needed to be extracted from the earth and more pollution through the refining process.
What’s the most challenging aspect of working in the construction sector?
In my role, I spend most of my time in document control. It can be frustrating to experience delays when a team doesn’t help the paperwork move swiftly through the system.
How has technology changed the way you work in construction?
The automation of the different aspects of the industry has made my job as much easier. Processing submittals, RFIs and contracts all electronically have made the process so much faster and smoother.
When and how did you first start using PlanGrid at Oden Hardy Construction?
I only started using PlanGrid in the last few months. The tracking of all of my documents automatically is phenomenal. I particularly like using the tracking logs in the app. Nothing gets left off or overlooked!
Any recommendations or thoughts you want to share with the next generation of builders?
Put the Earth and its well-being first.