Women in Construction
In November of 1957, my Grandmother Betty took a clerical position with Hellrung Construction in Alton, Illinois to earn money for Christmas presents for her 3 year old daughter (my mother). Her husband, Ron had just gotten out of the Air Force and was working for McDonnell Douglas. Betty ended up working 28 years at Hellrung and became the Secretary/Treasurer of the company before retiring.
Betty had very humble beginnings growing up on an apple farm in Calhoun County, Illinois. She did not have electricity or indoor plumbing until she was in high school. Her father and mother worked 7 days a week to provide. The only vehicle in the family was a 1-ton farm truck that belonged to her grandfather and she walked to a one room schoolhouse from 1st to 8th grade. She started 1st grade at 4 years old so her mother could work in the fields.
This past weekend I got to spend some time talking to Grandma Betty about her construction career and learning several new things. At the height of Hellrung Construction they were building department stores, shopping malls and hardware stores in Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Florida. At one point, the company owned three planes to check on all the work.
Her advice to our team here at Fulcrum was to pay all the small bills first and immediately to get them out of the way. Next, she said to pay your subcontractors as soon as you receive payment from the owner; they will always appreciate it and remain loyal. Finally, she said make sure your project managers get change orders signed before doing any extra work. Those project managers use to drive her crazy! Apparently, the guys at Hellrung knew they were in trouble when they got called to Betty’s office.
It was so great to hear the stories of her successful career. Grandma Betty climbed the ladder to an executive role with pure hard work at a time when there were very few women in construction. I am so proud of my grandmother and all she has accomplished.
President/Cofounder, Fulcrum Construction Group