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Leading the Way: Donna Said, A Decade of Safety Excellence in Construction

In celebration of Women in Construction Week, we shine a spotlight on Donna Said, the dedicated Safety Director at McCarthy Improvement (MCI). With an impressive tenure of 10 years at the company, Donna has played a pivotal role in shaping and fostering a robust safety culture within the organization.

Joining MCI in 2013, Donna embarked on a journey alongside the Executive Management team, working tirelessly to instill a proactive safety mindset throughout the company. Her commitment to the protection of employees has elevated safety to a core value at MCI, reflecting the genuine concern for the well-being of every individual on our team.

Donna’s impact extends beyond her official role as Safety Director. Under her guidance, all MCI employees, regardless of their position, actively contribute to promoting safe and healthy work environments on every job site. McCarthy Improvement’s dedication to ensuring that every employee returns home to their families in the same condition they arrived at work is a testament to the genuine care and commitment Donna has instilled in the company culture.

In 2023, Donna was awarded the impressive title of, “McCarthy Improvement MVP,” an inaugural award that recognizes a member of the MCI team who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help the company be successful.

To celebrate Donna and her many achievements, we asked her to answer a few questions about her decade-long journey with MCI:

You’ve been a part of the MCI team for 10 years, through the many changes, what do you think has remained constant?

McCarthy Improvement has always maintained the view that our employees are our most important asset; without them the company would not succeed.

Donna Said, Safety Director, leading safety brief
Donna Said, Safety Director, leading safety brief

Have you had any mentors or role models in the construction industry who have influenced your career path?
I consider all my fellow team members, from members of the project management team to the craft level employees, as my mentors throughout the years. When I started working in the construction industry I had “book smart” experience and confidence in my skills as a safety professional; however, what I was missing was an understanding of the work processes involved in completing a construction project.

Working alongside the rest of the team throughout the years has taught me “street smart” experience. The crews had patience answering all my questions as I learned the various aspects of “building stuff”. 10 years later, knowing that they taught me well, I am approached for my opinion on what will be needed, from a safety perspective, for upcoming work.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in construction?
If you are looking for a career that offers you a rewarding, challenging work environment that will hold your interest, then construction is for you. Each project is different, so boredom is never an issue. It is important to be a good team player, take ownership of your job responsibilities, honor your commitments, be dependable, and tough yet understanding.

What do you believe are the core values of McCarthy Improvement Company, and how do these values influence day-to-day operations?
MCI core values are Integrity, Quality, Safety, and Teamwork.

  • Integrity – we take pride in doing what we say we are going to do. This helps the company to maintain employees dedicated to our organization’s success.
  • Quality – we take pride in everything we do. McCarthy Improvement requires our best, every day. Our team goal is to be recognized as the premiere contractor in the various markets we serve. This attitude helps us provide our customers with a high-quality finished product.
  • Safety – allows employees to feel comfortable in their work environments, reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity; hence, reducing in-direct cost for downtime of workers and costs associated with employee injuries.
  • Teamwork – you accomplish nothing if you are not working as a team. It is vital to the company’s success to have everyone working towards common goals.
Photo of Donna Said holding trophy as the winner of the 2023 McCarthy Improvement MVP award
Donna Said winner of the 2023 McCarthy Improvement MVP award

Can you highlight any specific projects or initiatives that you believe have significantly impacted the company’s success?
All of our projects impact the company’s success. From celebrating successful job completions, to dissecting the issues that occurred on challenging jobs so we can learn from our mistakes and succeed going forward.

In conclusion, Donna’s decade-long story during Women in Construction Week highlights her trailblazing role in a traditionally male-dominated field, showcasing the impactful contributions women can make.
Donna’s commitment extends beyond a title, resonating in the care for the well-being of every MCI family member and contributing to a workplace culture where individuals thrive both personally and professionally. Her legacy is a testament to a brighter, safer future for MCI and the broader construction industry. We can’t express our gratitude enough to Donna for the invaluable contributions she’s made and will continue to make to McCarthy Improvement.

 

MCCARTHY IMPROVEMENT ATTENDS CONEXPO 2023: HERE’S WHAT WE LEARNED

Our team is fired up after attending North America’s largest trade show, CONEXPO – CON/AGG, at the beginning of March. We joined representatives from our family of companies, McCarthy Improvement, Clinton Engineering Company, Linwood Mining and Minerals, and McCarthy-Bush Corporation to network and learn the latest trends in asphalt, aggregate, and concrete industries.

With over 2,000 exhibitors and more than 190 educational sessions, there was no shortage of opportunities to interact with leaders in our field and learn about cutting-edge technology so that we can stay on top of our game. (Just look at this MASSIVE event – it’s a heavy highway company’s playground!)

 

Here are just a few of the key takeaways our team brought back from Vegas…

Top Four Takeaways:

  1. Electric construction vehicles and equipment are here!
    • Almost every manufacturer is developing electric vehicles and equipment. It is mostly smaller equipment such as mini excavators and skid steers. There are EV machines coming out, as well as some larger equipment like excavators and dozers.
    • As MCI works inside factories more often, we will need to engage in the use of more EVs. Seeing all of the options that are out there aids in our choosing process.
  2. “GPS” is expanding its reach. Traditional GPS uses are integrating with modeling, scanning, fleet management, productivity, analytics, and autonomy.
  3. Partnerships between equipment manufacturers and labor unions are working to develop virtual/remotely-operated spreads. This is especially in earthmoving, where the equipment can function with remote operation through the eyes of cameras, drones, and GPS information.
  4. Some excavator buckets now have built-in radar technology that enables automatic, real-time alerts and scanning of underground utilities.

While McCarthy Improvement may be 2-3 years from acquiring and adapting to the use of these machines and technologies, exposing our leadership to the ideas and options that are out there will prepare us for future changes.

MCI participates in Read Across America

We were thrilled to participate in #ReadAcrossAmerica week – hosted by the National Education Association.

McCarthy Improvement’s Casey Haas (Project Engineer) is here with his children having his daughter read Pop’s Bridge. (Get it here! https://hubs.la/Q01DW_rD0)

Early learning and quality family time are so important to us. And we love a chance to get kids exposed to the idea of construction being fun. 😉

Our sister companies also participated – go check out their social media pages!
Bush Construction
Clinton Engineering
Linwood Mining
Oertel Metal Works
McCarthy-Bush Corporation

McCarthy Improvement receives Associated General Contractors of Iowa ROSE award for safety

Out of 25 finalists, McCarthy Improvement Company received the ROSE (Recognition of Safety Excellence) award for safety from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Iowa.

AGC selects the ROSE award recipient that displays the highest standard in safety practices including quality safety programs with active employee participation, safety training, and work site hazard identification and control. The winner must also achieve zero work site fatalities and multi-catastrophic injuries.

“We’re extremely proud of our team for taking our culture of safety and health so seriously. It’s an honor to see that commitment recognized by the AGC,” said Shane Hauman, Interim President for McCarthy Improvement.

At the end of 2022, McCarthy Improvement completed its second consecutive calendar year without a time-lost incident which is defined as an incident that results in a disability or an employee missing work due to injury. McCarthy’s last time-lost incident took place in October 2020, marking over 800 days since the last occurrence.

McCarthy Improvement Safety Manager, Donna Said, also recognized the entire management team for their commitment to safety through the OSHA 30 Certification training.

“Every manager within our company, from foreman to top executives, have completed 30 hours of rigorous health and safety training through OSHA 30. While the training itself is popular, it’s certainly unique for all members of management to have this achievement,” commented Said. “I am so very proud of our team’s commitment to identifying and correcting unsafe behavior and conditions before incidents occur.”

The OSHA 30 course is designed to teach those in a leadership role how to identify, predict and avoid recognizable hazards in the work environment. All McCarthy employees have the authority to shut down production if they perceive an activity to be unsafe.

McCarthy Improvement accepted the honor as the 2022 ROSE Award winner during a luncheon on January 11 at the AGC of Iowa 101st Annual Convention in Des Moines, IA.

Safety Tip: Six Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

In our industry, job site safety is of the utmost importance. Equally important, but often overlooked, are safety hazards in an office environment. Did you know that slip, trip, and fall incidents are the leading cause of accidents in an office environment? Wet tile, even laminate, can be slippery when wet. A spill does not need to be large for a surface to become slippery causing an unexpected person to slip and fall.

Here are six tips to help prevent slips, trips, and falls from occurring:

  1. If you spill something, take the time to wipe it up until the surface is dry or wipe the spill from the surface and place a wet floor sign to make people aware of the hazard.
  2. Keep file cabinets closed when not in use.
  3. Keep unnecessary items out of walkways.
  4. Make sure power cords are secured and not dangling under desks where they can become tangled around feet when standing up, which will cause falls.
  5. Never stand on an office chair to reach something from overhead.
  6. Wear sensible shoes to work, with slip-resistant soles, to help maintain solid footing while walking.
Water spilled on tiled floor is a safety hazard
Take the time to wipe the spill up

McCarthy Improvement Sells Southeast Division and Focuses On Growing Midwest Footprint

McCarthy Improvement announced the asset purchase sale of its Southeast Division to C.W. Matthews Contracting Company, a premier heavy highway construction firm located in Marietta, GA.

With this sale, employees of McCarthy Improvement’s Southeast Division along with contracted projects, equipment and leases will now be under C.W. Matthews leadership. This strategic decision allows C.W. Matthews to expand its presence in the concrete paving industry and strengthen its aviation portfolio.

“C.W. Matthews is an extraordinary company with a very long history of success,” said Scott Hutter, President of McCarthy Improvement. “The company shares McCarthy Improvement’s commitment to excellence, and I am confident will support the Southeast team’s continuous and exemplary work at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and more.”

McCarthy Improvement’s Midwest Division will continue focusing on growing its footprint in the public/private and industrial sectors.

“We appreciate the talent and dedication of our former Southeast teammates and our current Midwest employees. I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds for McCarthy Improvement,” said Hutter.

Women in Construction: A Q&A with Adrienne Ayers

Every year, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) dedicates one week to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry. Women in Construction (WIC) Week is also a chance to raise awareness of the career opportunities available to women in this industry. In honor of WIC Week, we sat down with Adrienne Ayers, aviation segment leader at McCarthy Improvement, to talk about her career path, aspirations, and accomplishments.

Where did you grow up?

My family is originally from the Caribbean Island of Trinidad and Tobago. I grew up and went to school in Brooklyn NY and graduated from Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology.

What college did you attend and what did you major in?

I attended Temple University in Philadelphia where I majored in Architecture and attended Pratt Institute in NYC for Graduate studies in Construction Management.

What are you responsible for at McCarthy Improvement?

I am the Aviation Segment Leader in the Southeast where I am responsible for Business development. Finding new business and maintaining relationships with past clientele so that we can also encourage recurring business. Assisting the company in all aspects of new business and the goals that we have set through our Strategic Plan will always be my focus.

    In the science and engineering field, it’s estimated that only 14% percent are women. Why do you think women are so heavily underrepresented?   

    I believe there are many reasons for this but one major reason for me when I was coming up through high school and university was that there was a lack of true information regarding engineering, architecture, and other technical professions and that women actually have a place. It was not heavily talked about. STEM and STEAM programs are starting to address these things but still not enough. Students (young girls) need better examples and encouragement towards these fields so that they are not turned off nor intimidated. Letting them know from an earlier age will help in development. I combed through it by myself, but I now can help others.

    You are skilled in the aviation and construction industries. Did you know you wanted to pursue a career in these fields? And was there something or someone that influenced this decision?

    I definitely knew that I was going to be in a technical field. I understood that early in my education as I was more drawn to woodshop and technical drawing over home economics classes and I told myself that no matter what society said or what was deemed standard, I was going to do what I loved and what I was good at despite the challenges that I would be faced with!

    What’s the biggest misconception about women working in the engineering, aviation, or construction industries?

    That we do not have the skillset and talent to understand, lead and be successful in male-dominated fields. Women are rated lower in perceptions of their competence, their promotion potential, leadership skills, and oftentimes are perceived as less committed to our work a lot of times because of the roles we play as caregivers and oftentimes parents. Truth be told, we can juggle very well without dropping a ball!

    What’s your take on the aviation industry and where do you think it’s headed?

    Aviation is a dynamic industry and constantly evolving. Once the business model changes, it sends a message to every other business that supports this industry that they too must also evolve. Specifically, in construction and capital improvement, one must constantly explore alternative ways to sustain business no matter the environment. From methods to materials, everything matters.  The industry is also headed in a promising direction as you now see more females represented in different factions from pilots to aircraft engineers, it is beautiful to see.

    Is there one personal or professional achievement you are proud of and would be willing to share?

    I would say that I have been truly blessed in my career to have worked for several great organizations and with such great people that helped shape my path. From my internship at Daiwa Securities while in college to my first job after graduating with my Architecture Degree as a Facilities Associate for Auto One Insurance in Long Island then being recruited to the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue as a Facility Manager for a German Bank where I was the youngest with some heavy responsibilities. Then from there was recommended by my Manager to work with Grubb and Ellis as a Property Manager where I was responsible for the GM Building in Long Island City, TIAA Cref building, and Hammacher Schlemmer Building in midtown. Then after my credentials fell into the hands of a Director at John F Kennedy International (Terminal 4) my career and degree were tested as I was asked to sign on to be the Structural Facility Manager for the Terminal of 1.5 million sq ft at the time. It was a baptism by fire because I was entering into a field that was unknown.

    After a successful journey at JFK, I relocated to the Caribbean where my family was to be the Engineering Manager for the Airport Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and after three years was promoted to Deputy General Manager of Estate Planning and Business Development for both airport sites. I also earned my International Airport Professional (IAP) designation in the process. But chose to return to the states with my family as there was more for me to do. I accepted a Director position at the Augusta Airport on my return and continued my passion for construction and development in the aviation industry. Through all these steps I got a chance to understand multiple aspects of the Aviation Business, Contracting, and Asset Management coupled with management and leadership skills that would last me a lifetime. What I failed to mention is that I was the only woman at every organization in those positions but gained the respect of all my colleagues.

    I said all of that to say this…I AM PROUD OF ALL OF IT! They are all major achievements for me as each organization trusted me with the tasks at hand as a young woman which led to numerous successful programs, projects, and awards and for that…I am thankful!

    If there’s one piece of advice you could tell your younger self, what would it be?

    Never second guess yourself. Your choices and decisions will lead to a fulfilling career that will also teach/help/encourage others along the way. My decisions are bigger than just me!

    ACPA Names 2020 “Excellence in Concrete Pavements” Winners

    Every year, the American Concrete Pavement Association recognizes contractors, engineers, and project owners who have completed outstanding projects through its “Excellence in Concrete Pavements” awards program. McCarthy Improvement is the proud recipient of the Silver Award for its work at the Augusta Regional Airport.

    To learn more about the awards program and our project, click here.

    McCarthy Improvement Named a National Excellence in Concrete Pavement Award Recipient

    The 31st Annual National “Excellence in Concrete Pavement” award recipients have been announced, and we are pleased to be among 23 unique contractors recognized for hard work, outstanding quality, and demonstrating creative approaches to problem-solving. We have been recognized for our work at the Augusta Regional Airport – Air Carrier & GA Apron Phase II Rehabilitation project.

    To learn more about the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) annual awards, click here. Or to view a complete list of winners, click here.

    Quad-City Airport Works to Maintain Workforce & Make Construction Improvements

    The Quad City International Airport (QCIA) is working extremely hard to maintain its workforce and make continuous construction improvements according to the Quad-City Times. The QCIA Board awarded  McCarthy Improvement a contract to repair concrete sidewalks and roadways in the terminal’s parking lot in an effort to prevent passengers from tripping or falling. Last year, we were responsible for similar sidewalk repair work.

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