Draftsman Cindy Hillegass breaks glass ceiling in the construction industry

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Cindy Hillegass at the Central Roofing Company in Minneapolis.

I wish every woman in the construction industry what I found at Central Roofing. There is gender equality here. It shows in the way people are treated and on the paycheck. Best of all, in a company that thrives in technological advances, there are opportunities for growth.

“She knows what she’s doing. Make it happen. “Those were the words that changed Cindy Hillegass’ career … and brought her equality in the construction industry.

To celebrate Women In Construction Week (March 7-13, 2021), Hillegass tells of her exit from drawing jobs that only allowed an average salary increase of $ 0.72 over an eight-year period for fairer compensation and recognition.

“The labor market for women in the 1990s was not a market for equal pay for equal hours,” says Hillegass, a resident of Plymouth, MN. “The construction industry appeals to me, but as a woman it’s been a long climb. From 2004 to 2014, my salary increased an average of $ 0.80 each year. “

Break glass ceiling

The only way to get ahead in the industry and get equal pay was to get more education. Hillegass earned her MBA and Master of Management of Information Systems. She also has a graduate project management certificate as well as systems analysis and design certificates. With all of these Metropolitan State University credentials, her talents were recognized by her employer. After more than two decades in the construction industry, she was eventually promoted to a management position with equal pay.

“It took me 22 years to break through the glass ceiling,” says Hillegass. “It wasn’t until I applied for a position at Central Roofing Company in 2018 that I felt really valued.”

During an interview with Warren Stock, COO and Senior Vice President of the Central Roofing Company, Hillegass showed him her work portfolio. After the shortest interview in her career, Stock looked at an employee and said, “She knows what she’s doing. Make it happen. “With these words, she started her career as Senior Production Technical Drafter IV for one of the largest commercial roofing companies in Minnesota.

Feeling valued

“Drawing is firmly anchored in my DNA,” says Hillegass. “I was fascinated by the construction industry at a young age. Now I am living my dream job.”

Hillegass was one of three women to complete the Architectural Drafting and Estimating Program at the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis and quickly developed in the industry. Unfortunately, compensation, female role models, and opportunities for women in their early years in the construction industry were less than impressive.

“Working women, like all other male employees, want to contribute to the success of a company and at the same time have equal opportunities,” says Hillegass. “When I started at Central Roofing, I finally felt valued.”

With her extensive and ever-growing drawing knowledge, Hillegass creates drawings and plans for submission when Central Roofing bids for a commercial project assignment. These documents contain instructions on how and where to install roofing materials. In addition, she creates tapered insulation plans and details to ensure proper flow and drainage of water from the roof. As the job progresses, their editorial skills are required to make changes, updates, and inventory plans for project managers and the production team.

Increase the value

Due to the continuous workload, Hillegass and her colleague Mick Lathe juggle many project inquiries at the same time. Some last several days, others several weeks. Your current detailed work on the design of the new roof system for the Eden Prairie Central Middle School adds value to the overall project.

“From day one, Cindy went straight to the details of this project,” says Kyle Forrey, project manager at Knutson Construction. “This school has several areas in which the new roof is integrated into an existing roof. These are challenging plans. Cindy’s drawing skills, coupled with her engineering knowledge, have made her an invaluable resource. She assists in solving problems related to the scope of work of Central Roofing and also of adjacent commercial workers.

“I’m sure that the work Cindy brings to the project in advance will pay off later in the process for the installation teams. It helps remove many of the barriers that can affect productivity. “

Focus on quality

On another project, a large commercial expansion of the Boston Scientific corporate campus, the construction workers also relied on Hillegass’ talents.

“Cindy gave us an endless number of suggestions for working through this challenging project,” says Catie Kilpo, deputy project manager at Mortenson. “She had innovative ideas that made on-site production easier for the Central crew without compromising the quality of the product.

“There is no doubt that Central Roofing is putting together one of the most detailed draft plans I’ve come across. Based on the documents Cindy completed, I had complete confidence in the Central Roofing installation. “

As a woman in the construction industry, Kilpo reports that she also worked hard to find a seat at the table. “When time changes, technology changes and the workforce changes,” says Kilpo. “Women will continue to find a place in any area of ​​expertise, job title or position we encounter. The door has now opened wider to women … and we will keep it open. “

Including workplace

For Hillegass, one of the main benefits of working at Central Roofing is that it is a female-owned company.

“Finding women in management positions in the umbrella industry is improving, but it is still rare,” says Hillegass. “I think the biggest difference is that companies run by women have an inclusive rather than an exclusive work environment.

“Gerry Stock, our President and CEO, brings empathy to the company. Her leadership has proven to be key to attracting and retaining the most talented people in the industry. With Gerry, people feel comfortable and valued. She has become my role model and mentor.

“This company takes into account the fundamental human need for inclusion. It’s a real family. I learned here that it is not your title that defines you; It’s your work ethic and performance. Teamwork is the norm here; The company focus is uniform and supportive.

“I wish every woman in the construction industry what I found at Central Roofing. There is gender equality here. It shows in the way people are treated and on the paycheck. Best of all, in a company that thrives in technological advances, there are opportunities for growth. This is the dream job I’ve always hoped would exist for me. “

The Central Roofing Company is a nationally certified, privately owned, women-owned company based in Minneapolis, MN. Founded in 1929, the company employs more than 200 union workers. The Central Roofing Company focuses on commercial roofing, field service and metal wall panel projects. More information is available at http://www.CentralRoofing.com.

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