San Antonio Women With Careers In Construction

Hard hats, scary heights, concrete and construction sites, steel beams and steel magnolias, macho men, heavy metals and more: Each day women with careers in the construction business tackle all these challenges and then some, not to mention dealing with old stereotypes and the demands of work in a maledominated field. We spoke to four San Antonio women who seem to handle with aplomb the tough challenges of their careers in construction while juggling family life as well. We took a minute to ask each how she began, what she does and why she loves calling San Antonio home.

ANITA KEGLEY-DEATON, PRESIDENT KEGLEY, INC.
Years in the construction business: 35

How she got started in construction: “I married a man in the construction business. “The most rewarding part of this career is having a physical presence of your efforts, and the most challenging part is being a woman in a man’s field.” Construction was traditionally considered a man’s profession how is that changing? “I am not sure that it is changing. I was just at a reception tonight and got asked the same questions I did 35 years ago. It’s still considered a business of men. There are more women taking charge and being successful, but it continues to be a man’s world. “Women are really more suited to careers in construction than people might think because women in general seem to be more organized and are better communicators. For a successful project, communication is essential in all areas of construction.”

Keagley-Deaton values the love and support of her husband, Chuck Deaton, and children: Anthony Matthew Kegley, Charles Deaton and Amanda Deaton. She also has beloved pets: a dog, Prissy; and a cat, Peaches. She enjoys going to church, golfing, snow skiing, shooting guns, traveling, scuba diving and listening to music. She loves San Antonio because it is a big small town: “It is a blessing to be a part of a city where you can get as involved as much as you want and do as much as you can. When there is a greater cause for the city, the walls come down, and the people of this city unite and take care of whatever needs to be done. It is amazing to be able to work around the great leaders of San Antonio such as Red McCombs, Lila Cockrell, Susan Reed, Leticia Van De Putte, etc.”

JULISA CARIELO, PRESIDENT TEJAS PREMIER BUILDING CONTRACTOR, INC.

Years in the construction business: 18

How she got started in construction: “I previously worked with a prime construction contractor that gave me shared responsibility in making sure that his business was profitable. This gave me the experience I needed to build the confidence necessary to start my own construction company. I love the industry, and I enjoy building relationships with vendors and clients. I like hearing about their business history and how they got started.” Carielo says the most rewarding part of this career is creating jobs and helping build our community: “When we hire a new employee or small business vendor, we are helping our community. Our company is located in a historically underutilized business area of San Antonio, and we make it a priority to employ people from these areas. I want Tejas Premier to make a difference in our city’s economy, and I believe we can do it by building relationships with our employees and vendors. “The most challenging part of my career is diversifying my business. In my industry it is important to diversify our clientele list from local, state and federal markets. I am always looking for ways to offer additional services.”

Construction was traditionally considered a man’s profession — how is that changing? “Every day, construction women like me are in business meetings proving ourselves. We are making sure that we are heard and respected, and the greatest feeling is that men are recognizing that we are at the forefront of our business and involved throughout each and every project we undertake. Most of all, we enjoy the challenge! “Women are really more suited to careers in construction than people might think because we construction women are dedicated to providing a good product, we pay attention to details, we listen, we care to do what is right, and we make sure that our staff is on the same page. My staff is expected to have the same passion I do in keeping our clients happy.”

Carielo values the love and support of her husband, Oscar, and sons Oscar, 11, and Hector, 9, and says, “They truly are the loves of my life! I came from a big family, and having my family support makes it a lot easier for me to branch out. In addition, my employees immediately become an extension of our family. It’s easy to get ahead when we are all taking care of each other.” She enjoys surprising her husband by taking him on a movie date during an extended lunch, going fishing with her boys at Canyon Lake, coaching their soccer team and having a margarita and mojito moment now and then with her college and soccer friends so they can catch up. Carielo loves San Antonio because it’s a beautiful city and has always been home: “My favorite thing about San Antonio is its diversified cultures. I work with a diverse group of folks, and I am involved in our community with beautifully diverse business owners. San Antonio is the place to be!”

MARYANNE GUIDO, CEO GUIDO & COMPANIES, INC.

Years in the construction business: 20

How she got started in construction: ”I began my career at USAA as an actuarial analyst, having studied mathematics, statistics and economics in college. When I resigned from USAA, my husband, Tom, suggested I pursue something I always wanted to do but had not had an opportunity to try. My creative side led me to the continuing career/education program at St. Mary’s University in interior design. After completing the program, I formed Guido Interiors, Inc., which specialized in small commercial and residential design and construction. In 1993 I was offered a position as a project manager with Guido.” She says the most rewarding part of her career is identifying new talent and mentoring and growing a team into the future leaders her company will require. The most challenging part of her career is losing a project or a good employee, and she says she is competitive by nature. However, she chooses to use each of these experiences as an opportunity to understand how her company can improve as an organization.

Construction was traditionally considered a man’s profession how is that changing? “Every business in the country is recognizing that women are 50 percent of their natural resources. By not utilizing women in the workforce, businesses are seriously limiting their potential.” Guido says she would not say women are better suited to this career than men; rather, she would describe women as “well suited” or “equally suited” to this career. “Most women are highly organized, able to multitask and detail oriented by their very nature. Construction is creative problem solving, project management, schedule and budget maintenance, client interfacing, team building and more not just physical labor. Any smart human being can be successful in these roles.”

She values the love and support of her husband, Tom; their father, Cosmo Guido, Sr.; their siblings and their adult children and grandchildren, including son Christopher and wife Adrienne; grandsons Max and Maverick; daughter Lauren; son Cosmo; and son Michael, who was recently engaged to Katie Wadsworth of Boston.
Guido enjoys many and diverse hobbies, including travel, cycling, skiing, reading, gardening, cooking, playing bridge and drinking great wine. She loves San Antonio because of its diverse culture and warmth and the genuine kindness of its people: “I also value that San Antonians in general recognize and affirm the importance of the family and its role in creating great future citizens.”

LISA NICHOLS, OWNER NIC ABBEY LUXURY HOMES BY LISA NICHOLS

Years in the construction business: 25

How she got started in construction: “I started my business in 2002. We are a custom home building and remodeling company, and my job responsibilities include creating opportunities for our company in home building, remodeling and land acquisition. I also work with our clients on an individual basis from land procurement, home design and selections and construction to completion. I built my first house for my family because I could not find a home that met our needs. I was searching for a home that would cater to the way my husband and two children and I live. Throughout the process, I realized how much I enjoyed it from beginning to end and realized there is a need for homes designed to accommodate a modern family’s needs.” Nichols says the most rewarding part of this career is “creating beautiful homes for our amazing homeowners. Each home is completely original and is built with the finest building materials. Our attention to detail is unsurpassed in the market. “The most challenging part of my career is the way that home building is a very competitive business with a great deal of corporate and personal liability.” Construction was traditionally considered a man’s profession how is that changing? “I have spent the last 25 years of my career in the male-dominated fields of home building and multifamily developments. A woman’s point of view can be a benefit to families and helps to set me apart in this male-dominated industry. As a woman, I may see things and details in a different way than a man. My attention to all of the little details and my caring about the importance of client development really helps to set my company apart in this industry. I really love attending all of the selection meetings with our clients to help them marry all of the details together to build a beautiful and unique home.”

She values the love and support of her husband, Mitch, whom she’s been married to for more than 20 years, and their two children, a daughter, Embrey, who left for college this year, and son Mitchell, a junior at Alamo Heights High School. Mitch has worked in medical sales for most of his career. Nichols enjoys spending time with family and friends. and says she is also lucky to live in the same city as her parents, her sibling, nieces and nephews. “I also have many aunts, uncles and cousins who live in San Antonio, so holidays are always fun,” she says. She also loves to travel, read, shop and eat Mexican food. She loves San Antonio because it is a great city in which to live and work. “San Antonio has grown into the seventh-largest city in the U.S. but has kept its unique small town feel and culture. I love that I can get to almost anywhere I need to go in less than 10 minutes,” says Nichols.

By Janis Turk
Photography by Casey Howell