Melissa Fouts tosses on her hot pink, high-visibility vest and takes a seat at her desk in front of a sign that says “Make it Happen.” As the General Manager of EquipmentShare’s branch in Louisville, Ky., that’s her job – to make things happen.
“The boys get their yellow vests, but I need pink to stand out, it reflects my personality,” Melissa said. As one of the only women at the branch, Melissa stands out. At a little more than five feet tall with manicured nails and her pink vest, she doesn’t look like one of the guys, but she can certainly hang with them. She’s hopeful more women will join the construction industry. Born and raised in Louisville, she’s a lover of the Kentucky Derby, Outlaw Country Music and her career in the equipment rental industry.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer because I like to argue,” Melissa said. “Then I decided I wanted to be a music teacher and that didn’t work out. My ex-sister-in-law got me started with a trash collection company as a service and repair manager and I’ve made this industry my career.”
Melissa joined the equipment rental world in 2013 and started out as an operations manager. She has served in various roles including rental coordinator and service manager. She joined the EquipmentShare team in June 2020 and says she found her home.
“I’ll do anything that’s needed or asked of me,” Melissa said. “My title might be the general manager, but if the boys need me to hold a wrench, I’ll do it.”
“I run a fire department here,” Melissa said. “We put out fires on a daily basis. Constant problem solving on the fly is what we do, and my job is to make things happen. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction at the end of the day if I can sit back and say my team fixed problems for our customers today.”
Challenging gender roles in the construction industry has come with a few obstacles over the years, but Melissa doesn’t let that deter her. As the mother of three sons, she’s used to being the only woman in the room.
EquipmentShare isn’t content with the status quo, however, and has set a goal to recruit and place more women in leadership roles and increase the overall makeup of the female workforce to 20 percent or more within the next two years (by the end of 2024). EquipmentShare is hopeful more and more women will be able to see themselves in a role like Melissa’s.
“It took some time for some to develop trust with me,” Melissa said. “But once I have trust from a customer, they will come straight to me to get what they need. New customers have come in and asked to speak with the ‘man in charge’ and I get some enjoyment in telling them ‘I’m the man in charge.’ I don’t let that bother me. I let it fuel me to do more and succeed and prove that I’m capable.”
“Melissa’s drive to be the best is apparent every day,” Chad Stone, District Manager for the Middle Eastern Region, said. “She takes full responsibility for all aspects of her branch in Louisville, Ky. She has the utmost respect from her staff because she also gives them that same courtesy.”
Satisfaction in a job well done isn’t the only thing that keeps Melissa at EquipmentShare. She has found the People First atmosphere is precisely what she needed, truly becoming part of a team.
“We are a tight-knit group here at the branch,” Melissa said. “These guys are like my brothers. We pick on each other, but it’s always friendly. We have pitch-in lunches every week and use the BBQ grill given to us by our Enrichment & Events Team. Our rental coordinator, Kevin– Chef Kevin, as he’s known– grills for us and we eat together each Friday. It creates an environment where we all work together and no one is more important than anyone else.”
Though she has a few more years before retirement, Melissa looks forward to retiring to the Gulf Shore with her husband and spending more time with her sons and grandson. But for now, she’s content to solve problems at EquipmentShare.
“This is where I belong,” Melissa said. “I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”
To find out more about our People First environment and to work with great problem solvers like Melissa, visit Careers at EquipmentShare and discover firsthand how we are revolutionizing the construction industry… starting with our own team.