The Women of Evercast

Happy International Women’s Day to all the Women at Evercast

Between approving the payroll and answering a phone that never seems to stop ringing, the day-to-day is busy for Vanessa Parker. Vanessa has been at MST, an Evercast company in Central, South Carolina, for the past 25 years. With a plethora of knowledge that extends from the precast products to employee relations to how to fix the fax machine, she is who everyone turns to if they ever need assistance.

“Some of them call me mom,” said Vanessa laughing.  “Like they’ll ask, ‘okay momma, what do we do?’ I’m the one that’s been here the longest. They count on me a lot.”

‘Mom’ does seem like a fitting name for Vanessa, especially because so many of the employees she sits beside have become more than just co-workers.

“All these people are like my family,” said Vanessa. “We’re a close-knit group. We’re here for each other. My father passed away and they were all very supportive. We all have lost family members while working here and it’s a great supportive group.”

Not all the women who work at the various Evercast branches have more than two decades under their belt like Vanessa, but even the women who have only been around for a short time have already made their mark in the company.

LeRae Merritt started at Eastern Vault just over a year ago, but she’s proven in just 14 months how strong of an asset she is to the company.

“I remember the first time I saw a bridge beam coming out of here that I was just spellbound,” said LeRae. “I ran outside with my phone to take a video, because it was just something I’ve never seen.”

LeRae worked in the financial industry most of her career in Baltimore but moved to West Virginia to be closer to her mom after her father passed away. She took a job at Eastern Vault, working alongside people who had worked at the plant for decades.

“It’s a small town here so everybody here either knows each other or went to school together or their parents went to school together,” said LeRae. “I was kind of an outsider coming in, so I didn’t have any connections to rely back on, so I really just had to put my head down and work. I try to be as reliable and dependable as I can. Typically, if I don’t know something, my answer is that I can find out.”

That trust and respect came fast for LeRae as she has moved from an office manager position to Procurement Coordinator in a short amount of time.

“It’s been a learning experience, but one thing I will say is Balinda has blazed a trail,” LeRae said referring to long-time Eastern Vault Employee Balinda Cox. “Seeing her here and knowing the ins and outs of so much stuff over time makes me feel like I can do this too. Our general manager Joel Nowlin  doesn’t see Balinda as a woman, he’s sees her as knowledge. So that makes me feel more comfortable to be willing to stretch out and want to do more. There’s appreciation for being a woman in the field.”

Seminole Precast Project Manager Laura Dunne was in the same position as LeRae when she took her position. She didn’t know much about the construction or precast concrete business, but she was determined to find out.

“Everything I learned, I learned here,” said Laura who schedules production in the yard. “I still learn new things every day.”

With a role where everyone at the plant is counting on her, she takes her position very seriously. She says the biggest challenge of her job is making an efficient schedule that works for both the customers and the employees at the plant.

“I try to make the schedule so that it’s something that the guys can work on everyday that’s not going to make it harder on them. I want them to be able to come in and do the job to the best of their abilities and I don’t want to do anything to make it harder for them. And I always tell the guys when we get positive feedback from a customer.”

Even in a stressful role, Laura says she can always rely on her coworkers for help, including Evercast Organization Development Manager Maureen Del Monico.

As another veteran in the company, Maureen has proved that acts of kindness and helping others boosts morale and makes a company better. It’s something she learned from another strong woman.

“My mom was a hard worker who did everything she could for her family,” said Maureen. “She believed I could be anything I wanted to be and always encouraged that and always, always, always supported me.”

Working in HR most of her career, Maureen brings that same sense of encouragement and positivity to the employees who have come to her for assistance for the last 15 years. During her time in the industry, she’s seen it continue to evolve for the better.

“When I first started in the business, most women were in accounting or clerical positions, but there were still a few women who were in key roles, and I will say kudos to our company for having women in those roles,” said Maureen.

It’s hard to think of women in key roles in the Evercast Company and not think of Brooke Barnhardt. As someone who has worked in nearly every internal position at Precast Supply from the billing department to dispatch, she now serves as the Operational Manager.

Brooke grew up with a family who worked in construction and said it doesn’t surprise anyone in her family to see the position she holds now.

“I’m not your typical girly girl office-type person,” said Brooke. “I like getting my hands dirty. I like not having to wear a business suit every day, so it kind of fell in line with what I’m used to.”

For the past seven years, Brooke has worked hard to form relationships and build up the reputation of Precast Supply, Evercast and herself. As the only female in the company to hold the position of Operations Manager, Brooke has worked hard to show other women that they can successfully hold management positions in the construction industry.

“I think I had a stigma at first that girls can’t do this,” said Brooke. “But I think I more so had something to prove to myself. The more time has progressed, the more faith people have had in me to do my job. Being here, the guys have earned my trust already and newcomers coming in already see how the guys respect me, but I did have to earn that.”

Even with a management position, Brooke sees the sky as the limit for herself.

“My next step is GM,” said Brooke. “Give me time under my belt to prove my worth and value and keep learning and remaining spongy, but that is my next goal, to eventually be that.”

At a company like Evercast that values their employees no matter their gender, race or background, the possibilities for success are endless.

“Acquisition was probably one of the best improvements to my work experience in a male-dominated construction industry,” said Winchester Project Manager Lauren Poe.

Lauren will be celebrating five years in the industry in August 2023. With little knowledge in the field before taking the job, she hit the ground running to help in any way she could.  She worked for Winchester for three years before Evercast acquired the company. A change that she said made a day and night difference.

“Evercast specifically came in with a vision of equality and valuing anybody no matter what they look like or who they are and that was something that was deeply lacking before acquisition, to the point where I didn’t know if I could survive the construction industry and thought I would have to move out,” said Lauren.

Sometimes it can be hard to feel part of a team when you’re one of only a few females in a male-dominated workforce, but that’s why one of the Guiding Principles of Evercast is teamwork and respect. Evercast knows that it can accomplish great things by leveraging collective talents and treating everyone with dignity and respect. Evercast is always actively building relationships through open and honest communication, fostering teamwork, practicing humility and valuing diversity.

“I can say very confidently now that I really enjoy where I work because the environment is safe, open and respectful,” said Lauren.

Not just on this day, but every day, Evercast celebrates women’s achievements, promotes equality and advocates against bias and discrimination.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women at Evercast and its companies and our customers and suppliers. Our industry would not be where it is today without you. You are appreciated, you are valued, and you are needed.