Tara Beauchamp is a Project Manager at Anderson Columbia, and a valued Blacklidge customer. We spoke to her about her family ties to the asphalt industry, her take on workforce development and what we can do to attract more women and young people to the road construction industry.
What made you want to join the asphalt industry?
My grandfather started the business, so my whole family worked for the company growing up. From a young age, I started working there — in the office, on the road, in the asphalt plant. The asphalt plant was down the road from our house!
Who inspired you?
My dad. He’s a straight shooter and always pushed me to get the job done and not make excuses. He often used the example of a road building contractor who took over her father’s business. If she could do it, then I could do it too!
How have you seen the industry evolve over the years?
There is so much more technology! Technology has helped with how we track productivity and accounting. And, of course, the road building equipment has evolved.
How does your role look now?
I work out of our Old Town location, which is about an hour away from our main office in Lake City, Florida. I do whatever needs to get done—from office and project management to leading special projects, like workforce development.
How do you recruit younger people to work for your company?
We have seen success when we collaborate with the local high schools. The building program at one school referred some students to us and we ended up hiring them. Another time, we constructed a road in front of another high school and invited students to observe the paving process for a couple of hours.
I really try to emphasize just how many of our employees have been here more than 20 years. I tell young people that they can build a career, straight out of high school and without a college degree, and work their way up. For young adults who do not want to pursue a college education, the construction industry offers such a great opportunity. We really value our employees and like to see them grow and prefer to promote from within.
What is one way that the road construction industry can recruit and retain more women?
Most of the women that work for us on the road construction side are older and past the age of having small children. More flexibility with scheduling could help recruit women who have to rely on limited daycare and babysitting hours. If we give women that flexibility, I think we’re adaptable enough to be able to get our job done in a more efficient way. We think totally differently than men so, a lot of times, we can come up with solutions that they wouldn’t have.
What advice do you have for women who want to join the industry?
I think it’s very motivating to show women that there’s a place for them in the road construction industry and that we encourage each other. Do not be intimidated by the equipment or the men!