I’m Natalie Martin, a non-traditional concrete mother of three sons. I live my life to make myself happy and my boys proud. I was born in California and raised in Tennessee, so I have that southern charm with a little street gangster. I’m a leader, helper, and thrive on saving someone’s day. I am also the technical sales manager for Cresset Chemical Company, and I’m lucky to receive great support to be able to thrive as a mother and a woman in the concrete industry. The concrete industry has accepted me, my big crazy hair, my corny jokes, and loudness. I finally found where I fit in; I found my place the non-traditional way.
I grew up having this feeling that I would be a builder but NO WAY, I was a girl. Girls get married and have children. So that’s what I did. Over the years I became a professional team mom, a Sunday school teacher, and having the house where all the kids hung out. Sounds like a dream, right? Not for me, even though I was good at these things, I always felt like an outsider, always had this feeling of not being understood or fitting in. I started to become uncomfortable and resentful.
The feeling I was meant to build became overwhelming till one day I woke up, drove to Columbia State Community College, and enrolled in school. I received my Associates in Science with the motivation of becoming someone great in the construction industry. I did not receive support from family at first, especially when I decided to continue my education at Middle TN State University with a degree in concrete. CONCRETE!!! Yes, concrete the number two commodity after water. That means plenty of job opportunities. My family’s support did grow as my happiness and success did. How did I afford school with 3 children? This is where being non-tradition begins to pay off. There is plenty of grant and scholarship funds for students of any age in a STEM program. Also, where there is a will there is a way.
UNIQUE CAREER PATH
While working on my CIM (Concrete Industry Management) bachelor’s in science degree at Middle TN State University. I interned with three different companies. This beefed up my resume quite nicely and at graduation I was holding seven job offers. Many of those jobs I would say were on the traditional side, sitting at a desk organizing and budgeting the lives of men on the road, but then there was one that was different. One company saw that I would be great on the road. They saw my strength, understood my passion for concrete, and appreciated my fearlessness. My technical side would lead to being a great salesperson.
So, with keys in hand and a list of my customers, I moved to Florida to work as a territory manager for Stalite Lightweight Aggregates. This was a great job that allowed me to work on fun projects (typically the only woman on site.) During this time, I became familiar with the Prestress/Precast Concrete Industry (PCI) and fell in LOVE. When I was offered a position with Cresset Chemical Company as their technical sales manager, I took it. With the support Cresset had to offer I knew I would quickly grow in this industry. I work for one of the best family owned companies where we work as a team and support group for one another. They have made it easy for me to succeed in my career and motherhood.
My life is different week to week. One week I’m home and mothering my sons. The next week I’m driving or flying to different parts of the country to visit a customer, work a convention, or attend a meeting. In addition to motherhood and work, I am addicted to volunteer work. I am the VP of CIM Patrons board, chair of CIM Outreach Committee, associate board member for G/CPCI, the chair of the Diversity Committee for PCI, voting member of about five other committees in PCI/ACI, and a commencement and motivational speaker. It sounds like a lot, but I have learned to perfect a good life/work balance (disclaimer—it’s not perfect; life is a constant battle of balance and it’s ok, I’m happy.)
What surprisingly made me a better mother was the traveling. In my travels around the country, I meet and work with people from different backgrounds and experiences. It has really taught me to be respectful of people’s train of thought, beliefs, and how they live. In my experience with working with mostly men, I now raise my sons with an understanding and patience of the path they are choosing to become men. I have become their support and advisor, not a yeller or dictator. They have traveled with me on many occasions and together we have worked and built lifelong friendships with fellow industry families. They have helped me close deals because of how respectful and loving they are to me and my work. Our life is not traditional … but works for us.
This is a man’s world and I choose to be in it, not to prove a point, but because I truly love and respect concrete. Even as a lady I am heard, I am seen, and I am respected. I must pinch myself sometimes. And, for the ladies: Don’t take rejection personally and don’t kill yourself trying to prove yourself. You never have to take being uncomfortable just walk away. Take your safety seriously. Be confidant, know you belong, and be kind to your fellow women in our industry.
For More Information:
For more about Cresset Chemical, visit cresset.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2022
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