Denise Stoppleworth is the owner and lead strategic planner of IRONCLAD Marketing, a marketing firm that specializes in supporting manufacturers in the construction, mining, and agricultural industries. Below is an excerpt of a Q&A with Denise as we focus on women making a difference in the construction industry.
MCS: When did you realize you wanted to work in construction?
STOPPLEWORTH: I’ve been around equipment my entire life. As the youngest of two daughters of a third-generation homesteader, my dad was an equal-opportunity employer. He believed his daughters could run any equipment a boy could. I had experience with mowers, rakes, balers, cultivation, and combines. I have been operating equipment since I was tall enough to reach the pedals. That’s where my love for the industry, the ideals, and the people working long hours to provide a comfortable way of life for all of us started.
MCS: Who inspires you?
STOPPLEWORTH: I grew up on a small farm around men and women who worked long, strenuous days in the heat and cold, rain or shine. It’s the same in the construction industry, and quite frankly, that’s what drew me to it. The grit and determination of workers within the industry have always inspired me. These are the folks that work and produce with their hands what the rest of us need for everyday living. Construction workers are hard-working and dependable, yet so humble and unassuming. They are the salt of the earth. That is why I love this industry so much.
MCS: What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
STOPPLEWORTH: The most surprising part has been the passion I developed for the industry and the pride I experience when I drive by a construction site where my clients’ equipment is running, and I can tell my family what’s happening. It’s amazing to travel across the state—and the country—and see equipment at work wherever I go. I never thought I would be so passionate about equipment, but I am!
MCS: What is your favorite part of your career?
STOPPLEWORTH: As I mentioned before, what I absolutely love about my job is the people. The people I deal with are genuine and have a passion for our country, our communities and supporting the people they call neighbors. They put in long hours to do the job right, and they give back to the public in big ways both through the work they accomplish and the things they do outside of work. I love getting to know them, seeing the world through their eyes, and learning from their business insight.
MCS: What is your most memorable moment so far working in the construction industry?
STOPPLEWORTH: The memories that hold fast for me are the moments I got to get in the dirt and do the work or observe a jobsite up close. Being on a landfill directing a photo shoot. Operating a compact tractor loader backhoe. Driving a compact track loader. Those are the experiences that stick with you and give you something to brag about!
MCS: What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in the construction industry?
STOPPLEWORTH: I don’t know that I have found it challenging to be in this industry. I started when I was in my early 20s, and I have always found the people inviting and welcoming. They are proud of the work they do and willing to share their knowledge with you at any time. All you need to do is ask.
MCS: What is the biggest change you have seen in the construction industry since you started?
STOPPLEWORTH: The construction industry continues to change. Outsiders can look at it and say it’s low-tech, but the truth is it’s a very high-tech industry with more and more work being completed through automation and robotics. These methods have helped address the demands of workforce shortages. In addition, the construction industry cares about protecting the environment and its employees from noise, dust, and contamination, and continually offers new solutions to address those challenges.
MCS: What advice would you give a woman starting a job in construction?
STOPPLEWORTH:: Just do it! Don’t be intimidated by the equipment or the technology. Embrace it. Ask lots of questions and be passionate about what you do, and you will be successful.
MCS: What would surprise us about you?
STOPPLEWORTH: I don’t really know. I’m just a small-town farm girl living her dream surrounded by the hardest working, most down-to-earth people you could find. What more could a girl ask for?
It’s easy to go about our daily lives without thinking about the construction industry’s impact. We often take for granted the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the stores we shop in, the churches we attend, or the office buildings we work in. But, if you take a minute to ponder it, the construction industry has left a lasting mark everywhere in our lives making it easier to connect with those we care about, get the products we need, and do what we love.
For More Information:
For more about Denise Stoppleworth and her marketing firm, visit www.ironcladmktg.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2022
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