Reader Profile: Anne Pfleger

July 29, 2021

Just as a female construction company owner helped Anne Pfleger learn the ropes of the construction industry through which she amassed a variety of skills—project estimation, pre-construction, contract management, and process scheduling—she is paying it forward to other women as president of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Pfleger is a pre-qualification and estimating administrator for Hancock Structural Steel and does estimate, safety, HR and IT for its sister company, Charles Construction Services in Findlay, OH. Having all of those capabilities helps keep her busy in an industry that can toggle between busy and slow and also makes her a valuable and viable employee, she notes.

What She Does Day to Day

“My main role in my company is estimating pre-engineered metal buildings,” says Pfleger, adding she does it using an online program. “My creativity can come out because I can play around with the buildings to see the best and most economical way to build it.” She also sends out bid invitations, takes care of new hires and employee orientation, including safety training. She maintains the company’s OSHA logs. She tries to fix computer problems before outsourcing the troubleshooting. As NAWIC president, Pfleger’s many tasks include presiding over meetings, appointing committee chairs and members, conference planning and executive leadership oversight and contractual negotiations. Through the pandemic, Pfleger attended chapter meetings virtually, with a goal of attending each of NAWIC’s 117 chapters. “Something else on the NAWIC forefront is that associations and companies are reaching out to us on how they can support women in the construction industry,” she says. She starts the conversation and after an action plan is created, hands it off to NAWIC staff or committee members.

What Led Her Into This Line of Work

Pfleger was a newly-minted divorced and single mother working an hour away from home when she applied for a receptionist position at a construction company that was closer. “The owner was a woman,” Pfleger notes. “At the end of our interview, she told me I was too qualified for a receptionist job. She said they weren’t looking for a project administrator, but offered me that position.” That led to Pfleger learning about project paperwork and change orders. The company owner, who also was an attorney, taught Pfleger how to read and negotiate contracts, skills she also has applied as NAWIC’s president. Pfleger joined NAWIC in 2006 when her boss came back from a construction industry awards banquet where he met a NAWIC member. It took her six months to join after pushing through her initial resistance of having one more responsibility on her plate. She eventually served as its treasurer and vice president before becoming president. “I immediately connected with other women working in the industry,” she says. “What I love about NAWIC is that it's all facets of the industry: general contractors, attorneys, architects and engineers. There’s such a huge networking pool. It also helped me develop into a leader. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to be president of a national association in my lifetime.”

What She Likes Best About Her Work

In her construction job, Pfleger enjoys the estimating of metal buildings. "I love numbers," says Pfleger, who earned a B.S. in business management from the University of Findlay. “I love the challenge of trying to figure out the value-added factor we can do to get the business. My favorite part of being the NAWIC president is spending time with members, hearing everybody’s stories and being there to support them with whatever they do.”

Her Greatest Challenge

Pfleger says it's challenging to deal with the attitude that because she has the word "administrator" in her title that some people who deal with her and hear a woman's voice on the phone equate that to secretarial duties. Her challenge in NAWIC is the lack of time to check off all of the items on her 'to do' list. "Everybody's struggling to deal with the pandemic," she points out. "But there are so many opportunities going on right now and trying to get everything done in my (one-year) term as president, which ends in August, is the biggest challenge for me.”