Credit Bob Vila for motivating Erika Freeman to pursue a career in construction.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Erika Freeman used to watch with wonder as the former host of “This Old House” explained the inner workings of all-things home improvement.
She thought about what it would be like to build things and, when she was 14, Freeman asked a relative who owned a home-building company if she could help him over the summer. To her dismay, he replied: “Women don’t build houses.”
“Sadly, I took that at face value,” Freeman said. “How wrong he was though!”
Today, Freeman is an education market team leader in Findorff’s school-services division. She relies on her background in public relations, communications and business development to help clients through projects.
“There are so many aspects of my job that I love, but getting to be part of an organization that does great things has to be at the top,” Freeman said. “We renovate and build new, and renovate amazing facilities that will teach future generations for decades to come. We also are making a huge impact in other markets, such as building research facilities for companies who are working to cure cancer.”
Freeman is now working on an innovative child-care pilot connected to The Couture high-rise apartment building. Her commitment to diversity and inclusion on the project stand out, according to Pam Fendt, president of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council.
“She is a champion for expanding opportunity and using her position to create growth and change,” Fendt said.
The construction industry has changed quite a bit since Freeman first got into the field 17 years ago.
“Today you will see career signing days for apprentices, organizations large and small promoting the trades, and an overall sense from trades people that their work is worth pursuing,” she said.
“This sentiment hasn’t always been the case, and it is a welcomed change.”