S. M. Wilson

Women of STEEL Makes Strong Debut

By DENISE HASTY, AGC of Missouri

AGC of Missouri has launched a new women’s construction group that is gaining a large following across Missouri and attracting national attention. Just coming off its first Annual Conference and about to undertake another four networking events, AGCMO’s new Women of STEEL group also will be a featured program topic at next week’s AGC of America Annual Convention in Las Vegas.

Construction firms and associations around the country have been celebrating women’s roles in construction during NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week ™ (March 5-11). This year’s theme, “Many Paths, One Mission,” celebrates the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry. And that’s exactly what some key AGCMO members and staff had in mind when they formulated the idea for a new Women of STEEL (seeking to engage, elevate and lead) interest group over a year ago.

According to AGCMO member Amanda Bohnert, CPSM, chief marketing officer, S. M. Wilson, and one of Women of STEEL’s co-founders, “There are many women working in construction who are not a member of the trades or formal groups.  However, they are vital to our industry and work in all sorts of jobs, i.e. HR, estimating, purchasing, project support, accounting, marketing, etc. When we founded Women of STEEL and created our mission, we were looking for a way to help them expand their professional horizons, learn from others’ experiences and have an opportunity for professional development”.

“At the same time, we saw an opportunity to elevate member engagement and provide a greater ROI for our member companies,” Bohnert added. “Our initial year exceeded our expectations with an outreach to more than 500 women, engaging member firms

throughout the state.”

The group started with a strong mission and no budget. Through social media, direct mail, newsletter promotion and word-of-mouth, interest grew for a virtual kick-off meeting last spring followed by a hybrid presentation by career coach Maisha Christian and a series of happy hour networking events around the state. The group also had a breakout session at the annual AGCMO/MoDOT Co-op meeting in December. Women of STEEL has accumulated an impressive following of 500-plus women in the group’s debut year, culminating with the first Women of STEEL two-day annual conference last month in Jefferson City.

Social media has been instrumental in connecting prospective members to Women of STEEL.  Event listings and updates can be found at: Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn and in the organization’s Facebook Group.

Upcoming Women of STEEL events include a special breakout session, “Discovering Your Superpowers,” and WOS happy hour at the AGCMO Annual Convention in Cape Girardeau March 27-28. WOS happy hours are scheduled May 16 and 17 in mid-Missouri and Kansas City, respectively, followed by an event at S. M. Wilson hosted by WilsonWomen on June 22nd and another in southeast Missouri on Nov. 16.

Plans are already underway for a 2024 Women of STEEL conference. Topic suggestions already are flowing in – from learning about contract terms and negotiations, successfully navigating difficult conversations and avoiding the Superwoman Syndrome, to increasing confidence and juggling work and family while succeeding at both. Have ideas? WOS would love to engage with even more women in the industry.

For information or to register for upcoming events, contact Denise Hasty at DHasty@agcmo.org.

Denise Hasty, CAE, is Vice-President, Advocacy and Public Relations, for AGCMO.

St. Louis Construction Women Increasing in Numbers, Responsibilities



As the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) prepares to celebrate Women in Construction Week March 6-12, local NAWIC chapters and their members are also championing the women who work in their offices and on their jobsites every day.

This year’s Women in Construction Week theme is Envision Equity.

“WIC Week gives chapters nationwide the opportunity to shine a bright light on the construction industry and women’s very important place in it,” said National NAWIC Executive Director Crissy Ingram. “There has long been a culture of construction that is only for men. If we can get the women who have worked past that barrier out of the shadows and into the spotlight, they can show other women – no matter their age or background – that there are countless opportunities for them in the industry.”

National NAWIC President Doreen Bartoldus agrees. “WIC Week brings awareness to the great success women are achieving in every aspect of the industry,” she said. “It will also hopefully influence the next generation to join our ranks after seeing construction can be a great career for women.”

McCarthy Building Companies is an active NAWIC St. Louis Chapter #38 member. The local chapter formed in 1960, seven years after 16 women working in construction founded the national NAWIC.

Perhaps McCarthy’s best example of its advocacy for women in construction is its all-woman project team of five that is working on the design-build of Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s 16-story tower on South Kingshighway Boulevard. The new inpatient tower is a major component of BJC’s Campus Renewal, a long-term vision to transform the Washington University Medical Campus.

What stands out most about this team of women, say McCarthy executives, is the diversity of their roles and responsibilities: project administrator, project engineer, virtual design and construction manager, carpenter foreman and office manager. The team has formed its own project-specific group known as Women Building BJC.

Although S. M. Wilson & Co. doesn’t currently have an all-woman project team, the firm is a strong advocate for employing women in all facets of construction. President Amy Berg says the contractor was recognized by the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis (in 2021) as one of 21 St. Louis employers demonstrating excellence in four areas of workplace gender equity: leadership, compensation, flexible work policies, and recruitment and retention.

S. M. Wilson initiated Wilson Women three years ago as a way to support women working in the field, in the office and remotely.

“Being a woman in an industry predominantly and historically pursued by men does not have to be the incredible struggle it was decades ago,” Berg said. “Fortunately, women have pioneered their way into most construction-related careers. I’m proud to serve as president of a company committed to an inclusive work environment and a place where females can thrive.” Twenty-seven percent of the firm’s employees and 18 percent of its leadership are female.

In 2019, S. M. Wilson launched Wilson Women as a means of bringing together female employees for relationship building, community service, mentorship, networking and learning opportunities.

S. M. Wilson Renovating, Expanding 3 Ladue School District Campuses



S. M. Wilson & Co. has begun construction to renovate and add onto three campuses within Ladue School District as part of a voter-approved $126 million bond referendum in April.

As construction manager at risk, S. M. Wilson is working on Ladue Middle School, Old Bonhomme Elementary School and Spoede Elementary School. Construction began in mid-June at all three sites and the work is projected to reach completion by the close of 2023.

S. M. Wilson’s project director is Mike Hanner, senior project manager is Jason Gasawski and general superintendent is Mike Ashley.

Additional project partners include Ittner Architects and Perkins+Will.

Spoede Elementary School will gain a new tilt-up concrete and structural steel two-story addition and storm shelter, featuring open classrooms, wet labs and teacher planning rooms.

Old Bonhomme Elementary School construction includes a new classroom addition on the building’s east side, a new cafeteria, a new gymnasium and storm shelter on the west side and a new stage, music room and mechanical rooms adjacent to the gym. A new sprinkler system is also part of the work.

Ladue Middle School will also gain a new gymnasium and storm shelter on the campus’ south side and new classroom addition on the north side of the school featuring classrooms pace, science labs, a reading area and computer lab. S. M. Wilson is also constructing a new band room, loading docks and mechanical rooms.

S. M. Wilson, Chiodini to Start Construction of Edwardsville’s R.P. Lumber CENTER


Project partners joined City of Edwardsville officials in announcing that construction of a 65,000-square-foot teen center designed by Chiodini Architects and to be built by S. M. Wilson & Co. will begin construction on March 29.

S. M. Wilson Senior Project Manager Kerry Lorts said the recreational complex, known as The R.P. Lumber CENTER, will offer residents and surrounding communities a year-round option for skating, exercise and more. Features of the future facility will include a 175-meter surface indoor track for walkers and runners, a National Hockey League full-regulation-size indoor all-purpose ice rink, more than 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space dedicated to teens and a 100-plus-person capacity community space.

Other project partners are G&W Engineering, Oates and Associates, McClure Engineering and Alper Audi.

The complex, named in honor of major donor R.P. Lumber, is located adjacent to Edwardsville High School and Metro East Lutheran High School off Illinois Route 157 and Governors’ Parkway.

Lorts said the $10.8 million construction project has a projected May 2022 completion.