Women in Construction: J. F. Ahern Co.

The annual Women in Construction (WIC) Week, presented by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), highlights women as a viable component of the construction industry. Throughout the week of March 7-13, 2021, Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC) and Madison Association of Plumbing Contractors (MAPC) will be sharing the valuable and essential qualities that women bring to our contractors both in the office and in the field.

Kimberly Wachholz, Human Resources Business Manager

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week, recruiting and retaining women on J. F. Ahern Co.’s workforce is a top priority for Kimberly Wachholz, the Human Resources Business Manager for the company. J. F. Ahern Co. works hard on recruitment and they know that women are an asset and bring a unique set of strengths to their organization.

“We start at the high school level by partnering with numerous schools throughout Wisconsin, whether that be through organized platforms like Project Grill, supporting with curriculum development and facilitation, job shadows and tours, class presentations or career fairs to educate all students about the great career opportunities and the benefits of joining the trades,” explained Wachholz. “We have also partnered with local Women in Construction groups to offer lunch and learns or provide support where we can to attract and retain woman in the trades.”

J. F. Ahern Co. knows how crucial women are to the trades and their organization, not only now, but for the next generation as well.

“The construction workforce is evolving in many positive ways, especially as it relates to the increase in the number of women in the industry each year,” said Wachholz. “Women play a crucial role at all levels of our organization. Especially our female leaders that inspire and encourage other woman to advance their careers and eliminate some of the challenges women face in construction.”

Jennifer Essex, Construction Sales & Project Manager

Wachholz continued, “Women bring new or alternative perspectives on how to approach challenges in the workplace contributing to problem solving, efficiency, and enhanced team performance.”

Highlighting three of the many women that work at J. F. Ahern Co., Jennifer Essex, Mary Breuer, and Janeen Gerlikovski are leading the way for more women to join the trades and their company.

Essex is a Construction Sales and Project Manager, accountable for acquiring and managing work successfully through a project’s lifecycle. She also develops and maintains strong customer relationships.

Mary Breuer, Safety Business Partner

Breuer is a Safety Business Partner providing occupational health and safety support to their shops. She utilizes her safety subject matter expertise to work with project teams to ensure safe, compliant, and reliable execution of project work.

As an Assistant Labor Coordinator, Gerlikovski assists with the hire of tradepersons in the plumbing, steamfitting, and sheet metal trades. She works directly with the mechanical unions throughout Wisconsin and frequently requests manpower for projects. She is familiar with the apprenticeship programs, certified welder documentation, union contracts, and many other items related to J. F. Ahern Co.’s field force.

Essex, Breuer, and Gerlikovski are just three of the strong, talented, and highly skilled women that work for J. F. Ahern Co. right now, and many more are in the company’s future.

Janeen Gerlikovski, Assistant Labor Coordinator

“As the competition for top talent remains challenging, there is a critical need to expand the number of women interested in construction and support those who have chosen this industry as their career,” said Wachholz. “While our number of employed females is slightly better than the national average, gains have been made as Ahern has more female employees in project management, sales, and leadership roles than ever before. We need to continue to foster this growth and advancement of woman to leadership and executive roles. We would like to see more women apply to our field trades and fabrication shop roles from Apprenticeships to leadership positions. “

J. F. Ahern Co. is a leader in the construction industry and continues to help pave the way for women in construction.

“There are so few women in the trades in general, it is critical that we continue to encourage the trades as a viable career path for women,” said Wachholz.