In today’s business climate, entrepreneurs need to be ﬂexible, adaptable to the ever-changing work environment, a strong communicator, and especially good listener. Patience is not just a virtue; it is necessary when entering the construction management and civil engineering arena. One of the biggest challenges as a woman who is a business leader in the construction industry has been to overcome the stigma of being a female in what has essentially been perceived as a man’s domain. Laurie Allen is the CEO of one such women-owned, construction management company – ACMS.
Whether it is a staﬀ member or a new or established client, Laurie Allen’s approach to leadership is simple – be honest, be fair and consistent, be approachable & available, and follow-through on any open items in a timely manner. Laurie and her team equip their staﬀ with the tools they need to be successful in their position, provide support through ongoing education and certiﬁcations, and encourage them to set goals & achieve them.
Compassionate and Truly Dedicated Leadership
After ﬁling the corporate documents to establish ACMS in August of 2013, Laurie Allen encountered the loss of her father to an aggressive form of cancer, left her then-current place of employment which she had been at for 19 years. And since she handled the close-out of her parents’ estate in the new role of CEO to previous clients.
This “introductory period” required much eﬀort for even though she’d proven herself to the business community during her tenure as VP of Operations for the Northwest Region, Laurie Allen basically had to start over in proving herself and ACMS’ capabilities as a start-up to the local market. She had not anticipated this but met the challenge straight on and despite being newly formed, ACMS still landed small but signiﬁcant jobs through the relationships previously established.
Responsible for Strategic Planning
Laurie Allen is thankful for that call as ACMS is now a part of the project controls team, working for hand-in hand with the prime and essentially being groomed to pursue future PM opportunities as a prime. Laurie sees the company deﬁnitely moving to a larger oﬃce space at its building in the near future. Her team has just launched ACMS Civil as a separate company to provide civil engineering services to public and private entities. The company has currently one active engineering contract and is actively pursuing civil design opportunities.
Talent acquisition is ongoing at ACMS. It welcomes referrals from clients, employees, and are always on the lookout for new talent. ACMS is in a fortunate position as the work it does is considered essential. Therefore, the company has not had to lay any staﬀ members oﬀ due to the pandemic and its business continues to prosper. The oﬃce staﬀ is working remotely but she remains connected through weekly staﬀ meetings held online.
Even in a remote work environment, ACMS takes the safety of its employees seriously and encourages them to let them know if there’s something the team can provide to make their workday and ﬂow better.
Ability to build Strong Relationships
In November 2018, several members of ACMS staﬀ joined Laurie Allen at the Gresham Eagles where the team volunteered to either work in the kitchen or serve Thanksgiving dinners to the guests, many of whom were either homeless or simply down on their luck and could use a really good hot meal.
Last year , to celebrate ACMS’ 6 anniversary, ACMS made a contribution to Friends of Trees. Both Laurie and the company president along with several staﬀ members and some of its vendors volunteered its Saturday and helped plant trees in several metro neighborhoods. ACMS continues to support this non-proﬁt in their work.
“If I could initiate a change to beneﬁt our fellow community members, it would be in the form of creating employment opportunities through hands-on inspection training programs. It’s worked in the past and there is no better feeling than knowing through helping someone navigate classroom and ﬁeld training and meeting milestones along the way, that they will have a solid career and promising living wage until retirement. To positively impact someone’s life in this manner is priceless”, states Laurie Allen.
Educational Careers in Public Works
As a company, ACMS strives to contribute to the betterment of its community. Laurie Allen serves as the Scholarship Committee Chair on behalf of the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA). In this volunteer position, Laurie conducts outreach to Oregon universities and community colleges as well as a couple of private campuses to encourage students to apply for the scholarships oﬀered through the Oregon Chapter of APWA. To date, a total of 264 scholarships have been awarded since 1981 totaling $ 397,200.
The outreach process to generate and distribute the application forms for the approximate 18 scholarships can be rigorous but it is so worth it knowing Laurie Allen gets to play a small part in helping a student achieve their educational goals and launch their careers in public works and/or engineering.
Meeting the Needs of the Industry
At ACMS, it customizes its approach to meet the needs of each client. It listens to what is most important to them and then drafts a work plan for their review making any necessary adjustments for ﬁnal acceptance before proceeding. Then it checks back with them often for further collaboration and to address any concerns that may arise. The clients appreciate the organization’s responsiveness and willingness to go the extra mile!
Today, as a women-owned company, ACMS is being noticed for its successes and now that it has been 7 years, the business community and competition, in general, have come to accept that the company is here and not going away so it has overcome these challenges through perseverance, determination, and a solid belief in its team and capabilities.