Construction has been a vocation for Danielle since she was a child. Her father hauled heavy demolition machinery and as a kid she loved riding in his truck while he dropped off machinery at project sites. Later in life, as a single mom tired of living paycheck to paycheck, Danielle turned to the construction industry. She had always been a hard worker, was physically able, and liked hard work. Danielle went to the Local 292 union to inquire about their apprentice program and quickly tested out. Her first job as an apprentice was with Mortenson on our Hill7 project. After a month there she transferred to the UW Medical Center Expansion project where she got a wide variety of hands-on experience. She then went on to work at AMLI Arc and Tilt49 in Seattle before moving to Climate Pledge Arena, where she was promoted to Labor Foreperson. Danielle has been with Mortenson for 8 years now.
Interview with Gianna Bacher, Assistant Marketing Coordinator at Mortenson
Why construction? How did you get into the position you're currently in?
Danielle: When I first had my son, I was on welfare. I struggled paycheck to paycheck raising my boy from diapers and being on state assistance. My son is number one what motivated me and inspired me to use what God gave me and put it to work to make a wage to raise him on my own. Joining the Laborers’ Union and getting on with Mortenson is really the greatest blessing in my life, second to my son. Working alongside the wonderful people that work for Mortenson hands down changed my life. They’re real people, and it’s a total family.
What do you find fulfilling about your job or this industry?
Danielle: First and foremost, definitely the camaraderie that I have out in the field with my fellow brothers and sisters. This really is a family. It’s fulfilling to feel like a part of a team, to see the work we accomplish, and to bring joy to the owners that have hired us for the job to fulfill their dreams. I definitely get in my car every day and feel like I’ve earned my paycheck. It’s a very wholesome feeling.
What would people find surprising about your job or career path?
Danielle: All the details behind the scenes, planning that takes place, and the very thought-through processes and steps we take to do each task. There is a lot of planning and safety consideration every day at work. I think a lot of people would be surprised about how it’s not just a matter of throwing on a hard hat, some gloves, and eyewear and getting to it. We all meet and stretch and plan each and every task, and if something takes a different route we stop and plan that out. That’s why I love Mortenson. I always say I’m married to Mortenson because I am a firm believer in everything that we do, every policy we have, our innovation, and our consideration. They have raised me from the ground up to where I am now 8 years later as a foreperson. I continue to learn every single day through my leadership and having all the guidance and knowledge gained from others. My career is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life and the greatest accomplishment behind my son. I love what I do – it’s my passion. My son can’t believe some of the things I’ve done. When I show him a picture of me out in the concrete he says, “Gosh mom, you’re so small. How can you do that?”
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career?
Danielle: It’s hard to answer that question, but safety would have to be the biggest one. There’s a lot of stuff that can happen, even in the safest situation you could think of something could happen. I’ve applied it to my personal life with my family. My family calls me “Safety Danny” at the campsite because I’m always the one moving a log that’s a trip hazard or making sure all the candles are blown out. It’s so important at work and at home, and it becomes a part of your life when it’s instilled in your heart and your mind.
What advice would you give to women in the industry or those interested in joining?
Danielle: Do it! Take that leap of faith – have the faith in yourself and know that you are capable of more than you probably think. To women that join the industry, have confidence and don’t doubt yourselves or worry about what anyone thinks.
I kept my nose to the grindstone and gave it my all every day to put my best foot forward. I feel that I am honored to be in this trade making the same wage as the man standing next to me. I know how much innovation and diversity females bring into this trade and industry. Personally, I’ve always felt like I better go at it twice as hard side-by-side with a man because I’m making the same as him but might not be as physically strong as him.
I can’t put into words how beyond blessed and honored I am for this opportunity and for the life I’ve been able to provide for myself, my son, and my family. I love helping others, and the unity and family bond in the field and with Mortenson as a company makes me grateful for working my way to where I’m at right now.