Our Superstar Women in Construction
Construction and landscaping are two fields traditionally thought of as male-dominated. But more and more women are entering the industry and proving to hold their own and bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the table.
Instone is proud of the women who work at their company and wanted to put the spotlight on them so you can get to know them.
Cathy Fluharty, Warehouse Lead
Cathy has been with Instone since 2019 and works as a warehouse lead. Growing up with two brothers, she was used to spending time around the males in her life. “I used to play peewee baseball and lots of sports with the boys.” She says. “It wasn’t an unusual thing for me.” She says she enjoys the challenge of showing them up a lot of time!
She began working in the construction industry by taking manufacturing and warehouse jobs, “I hadn’t ever thought about stone. I was going to go into nursing but decided that wasn’t for me. I think the products we have are pretty cool. I like seeing the fireplaces and things people put together for their houses.”
Cathy admits when she started her first job in the industry, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to cut it, but now 24 years later, she proudly exclaims, “I’m still here!”
Her motto is “work smarter, not harder”. She credits that with seeing her through any challenges, especially when asked if women have any disadvantages in the industry, such as physical strength. “If you do things smarter, it’s not hard. We move a lot of cartons. If it’s too heavy for me to lift, I just use a forklift or slide it over and let gravity do the work.”
After surviving several layoffs with her previous company, she says she loves the security she has at Instone. “In the past, we were always waiting for the ball to drop. Here we’re growing. Things are good. I have a family and the security means everything.”
Christine Quersher, Fabrication Manager
Christine has been with Instone since 2019 and quickly went from working in estimating to fabrication manager. It’s a career path she never expected to be on. “I worked for 20 years in human resources and left my job in 2015 to stay home with my son.” She said staying at home wasn’t for her, so she took a temporary part-time administrative job to keep busy. “The company I was with at the time offered me a little more, and it went to full-time. I kept growing and training and went on to be an estimator. Instone bought that company out, and I then went from estimation to fabrication.” Now she’s responsible for the fabrication shop and its three team members.
Working with stone wasn’t something Christine ever thought about doing, but now that’s she’s in the business, she finds it very interesting. “It’s completely different and wide variety of products. My brother just renovated his house with an addition and a walkway. I was able to point out and name all the stones!” she laughs. “It’s so beautiful. I really enjoy it.”
When she started in the industry, she was only one of two women at her company. With Instone she says it’s about 50/50. She said she never felt like that was holding her back. “I went to two hardscape shows and there were a lot of other women. It gave me a lot more confidence. It’s a great environment. I’ve never been in a situation where I wasn’t taken seriously.”
Christine wants to encourage other women to consider the construction and landscaping industry and see for themselves. “Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t apply for these jobs. When I was first thinking of applying, I thought it was mainly men. Why would they want a female? But you can’t face life that way. You have to be confident in yourself. That was my approach and it’s worked well for me. I don’t think anybody I’ve worked with in this business has looked down on women. I think women should challenge themselves and try different industries. Reach out, give it a shot!”
Nicole Blackburn, Senior Estimator
Nicole joined Instone three years ago ad works as a senior estimator. She holds a degree in mechanical engineering and didn’t really think about stone until a recruiter reached out to her after she worked as an estimator in the plastics industry. “It was something that piqued my interest. I never thought I’d be in this field coming from mechanical engineering, but I always wanted to build things and create and see something come to life that I created.”
Her job consists of working on custom stone projects, sourcing materials from across the globe and seeing projects through with clients from start to finish. Although she works in the construction industry now, she says she doesn’t look the part.
“I have a girly look.” Adding that she also wants to appear educated because in past jobs, men felt the need to explain things in laymen’s terms or assumed she didn’t know how to do things like measure on a tape measure. But she’s quick to clarify that doesn’t happen at Instone.
She’s not surprised it happens, citing that when she started in the engineering field, she was only one of two women in her graduating class of 100. “And the other woman was my twin sister!” she laughs. “So from the beginning, I’ve been outnumbered. Anything to do with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has very few women.”
Nicole feels women bring a different perspective to traditionally male-dominated industries that is needed. “I think women are naturally calmer. When I deal with customers, and they have an issue, they automatically calm down speaking to me. They’re not as defensive.”
The collaboration she has with her partner Zak [last name] at Instone is what really makes her love her job. “It’s great coming to work every day and working with someone who understands you and your ideas.”
She just hopes other male-dominated industries will one day be more of a level playing field. “You always have to fight harder as a woman. That’s probably always going to be that way. But maybe it’s a good thing. We always want to be the best we can be.”
Are you interested in working for Instone? Check out our LinkedIn page to learn more about our company culture and job openings.