S-5!’s architectural & national accounts director has been awarded the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Great Lakes Region President’s Award in recognition of her dedication, hard work and mindfulness to the region.
S-5!’s Shelly Higgins is a member of the board of directors for the CSI Cleveland chapter. She helped plan, organize and run the Great Lakes Region Conference from ideas to implementation. She is also the founder and director of the “Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls” in Northeast Ohio, a five-day summer camp for girls ages 12-16 to explore the world of construction and learn about the various career pathways in the skilled trades. The camp partners with unions and trade associations and is run through the generosity of volunteers, mentors and sponsors, allowing the girls to attend at no cost.
The camp’s mission is to encourage girls “to consider a career in architecture, engineering, manufacturing or construction trades through education, hands-on experiences, mentoring and field trips” to manufacturing facilities, architectural firms, and even local permitting offices.
Higgins is an active member of many associations and councils, including CSI, the Metal Construction Association and National Women in Roofing (NWIR) to name a few. She has a special place in her heart for the future of the construction industry, supporting trade schools and encouraging young women to consider a career in the trades.
“Shelly has made a significant impact on the young girls in Northeastern Ohio by organizing and promoting such an amazing event,” says Rob Haddock, CEO and founder of S-5! and camp sponsor. “We often speak about the labor shortage and how to bring the next generation into the trades. Thanks to Shelly’s hard work, these young girls have the chance to learn about the endless career opportunities that exist in the construction industry.”
Higgins spent her entire life working in various corners of the construction industry. Her love for it goes back to an early age. Her father “flipped” houses, and she did whatever she could do to help. It was the best way for her to spend time with her dad. She says: “I would help him, and being a young girl, I would end up threading pipe or doing whatever else I could. I really enjoyed that. I’ve always loved working with my hands.”
That sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from working alongside her dad carried with her into adulthood and her career life. She spent time designing kitchens professionally, then exterior building products, and eventually, architectural sales all while trying to stay connected to the job sites, where that familiar and rewarding work happened.
Working in a primarily male-dominated industry and constantly hearing about the labor shortage, Higgins identified the need to introduce and educate young girls in the trades. “I want them to know, there are positions in the industry for them, and if they don’t want to go the traditional college route, there are opportunities to make a very good living in the construction trades,” says Higgins. “And if they don’t know the opportunities exist, how are they going to make a career out of it? We need to be proactive and encourage them.”
This is the second year Higgins has organized the girls’ camp. Plans are underway for 2024, and Higgins welcomes the support of other industry professionals to volunteer their time and/or take part as sponsors. For more information, visit www.letsbuild.camp.