It’s National Women in Construction (WIC) Week and PRIME AE is proud to celebrate the women who are making an impact in our industry. This year’s WIC spotlight is Hilda Krumins Frigic, Construction Services Manager – NE Ohio in Akron, Ohio.
Why did you choose the construction industry?
I love being outside! I even prefer starting work before 7am! I’ve always been an active, outdoorsy person…primitive camping with no plumbing facilities didn’t bother me, which helped me to accept the construction porta potty. I was never a girly-girl.
When did you realize you wanted to work in construction?
While going to college (back in the 80’s, yikes!) I worked as a co-op in Ohio Department of Transportation District 12’s design office. I asked for my last co-op to be out in construction, as I believed a designer should experience the “other side” to truly be able to understand the process. That is when I realized I could never work behind an office desk ever again.
What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
I am surprised at how few women work in the construction field, even to this day. I have been the only female on many projects.
What challenges have you experienced within the construction industry and how did you overcome them?
Early on it was a combination of youth/inexperience/being a female. I had an inspector tell me he’d never work for a woman…I knew I couldn’t change his mind at that point, so I told him I understood and accepted his opinion.
I spoke with a female engineer in design, who at that time was a mentor to me. She said that had never happened to her. There were no female mentors for me in construction, so I knew I had to rely on my male mentors/friends or had to figure it out on my own. I have found that there are so many personality types out in construction, everyone has an opinion and different experiences, and you have to be able to work with everyone.
What is your favorite part of your career?
The variety of projects, solving issues, and how it is never the same. If I am on a project where it is not a good project (i.e. contractor is difficult, plans are not up-to-par, workload is extra difficult, etc) I know it is temporary situation. I love getting to the end of a project and seeing the final results. It is never the same, which I enjoy the most.
On a personal note, the most surprising part of my career was meeting my (now) husband on one of the construction projects. We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this summer and are blessed with two great (adult) children, a step-son and two grandsons.