As an African American woman, Sashe Ivy, owner of Pink Hard Hatz Construction, got into construction to make a difference in the industry, but it hasn’t always been easy.
Based in Chicago, Ill., Pink Hard Hatz Construction is one of the largest African American woman-owned and operated construction firms in the Chicago area.
Ivy has been in the construction and real estate industry for almost 15 years and started her own company four years ago.
“I was the only female on construction sites and at that time I was a realtor,” Ivy explained. “I kept thinking about the idea of being a lady GC, and then I met two sisters, one was a plumber and one was an electrician. At that time, 15 years ago, it was very unlikely you would meet women in the construction trades, especially a lady GC. I didn’t move on the idea of becoming a lady GC then but I was sitting in a community development meeting and there were all men as I looked around the table and God brought the vision back to me of being a lady GC. That’s how Pink Hard Hatz Construction started.”
Her goal is to have crews in all 50 states. She currently employs about 20 men and women who work on different projects.
“We do everything pertaining to residential and commercial spaces such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, flooring,” Ivy explained. “We specialize in kitchens, baths and basements. We also do commercial buildouts.”
Recently, the company had a contract with the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center in Chicago.
“We just finished a refresh project of four full bathrooms with electrical, plumbing and painting,” Ivy stated. “That was a huge deal for us to land that contract.”
Ivy has faced some challenges over the years, she admits. The company was posting some of its work on social media when it suddenly went viral and was featured on various news outlets.
“When we went viral on social media, we were attacked for being the largest African American women-owned and operated construction firm in a male-dominated industry,” Ivy recalled. “We were getting nasty phone calls. We had over 200 spammers hit our business page with fake reviews. It was a nightmare. Being a woman in construction is harder because they don’t take you seriously.”
People who called said things like, “You guys should be in the kitchen making sandwiches” and “you’re trash.”
However, there was positive feedback as well.
“We got a lot of work from our social media presence,” Ivy said. “The feedback was great, but some people don’t want to see an African American female break barriers in construction.”
Ivy said it’s important for customers to have a contractor they can trust. She is very hands-on and says excellent service and commitment to customer satisfaction is what sets her business apart.
“We just strive to be the best to give our clients great service at affordable prices,” Ivy explained. “When I’m out in the field and I’m seeing the work that’s being performed, I’m not going to point fingers but it’s horrible. The difference that’s going to set us apart is that we truly care. We’re not just out for the next dollar. We really see women and seniors taken advantage of and we want to change the trajectory in the industry.”
There is currently only about 11 per cent of women in the construction field, she added.
“The field is open to women…and our goal is to bring more women into the construction industry,” she said. “We’re working on a training program with an accreditation.”
She has some advice for women looking to get into the industry.
“I would tell ladies, let your passion become your purpose. If there is anything you really want to do, don’t let anyone or anything stop you,” Ivy said. “Just Follow your dreams.”
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