"I grew up playing with blueprints instead of Barbies."
— Lauren Smith, EquipmentShare project manager
Construction has always been a male-dominated industry. EquipmentShare wants to change that.
According to the National Association of Women in Construction, women comprised 10.9% of the construction workforce in 2022. At EquipmentShare, our workforce is currently 17% women.
To keep raising that number, we need to find creative, talented and hardworking women eager to build their own future at EquipmentShare — whether or not they have previous experience with construction equipment. Here are the stories of three women who found their calling and are thriving in their roles at EquipmentShare.
When she took her first job in the construction equipment rental business in 2007, Leann Thomas didn’t know a scissor lift from a skid steer. Even after she began to grasp the official names of those machines, she had to learn all the slang terms customers might use to describe them.
“I had a guy call me and say, ‘I need a cherry picker over here,’” she recalled. “I called my branch manager and said, ‘I don’t know what the hell that is, but do we have one?’”
Thomas was a little behind on the lingo, but she had a secret weapon.
“I knew how to sell,” Thomas said. “I’ve known that since I was a kid. Honestly, if you know how to sell, you can figure the rest out.”
Thomas paired her people skills with the determination to overprepare. She memorized spec sheets, so she could rattle off any given aerial work platform’s lift capacity, drive speed and turning radius. She learned how to operate the machines so she could provide first-hand explanations of important features.
Soon, she earned the respect and business of contractors.
Since joining EquipmentShare in 2020, she’s quickly advanced from territory account manager to district sales manager to her current role as regional director of sales for the southeastern United States. Thomas is based in Georgia and supervises the sales teams in her home state, plus Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
When Thomas isn’t working, she likes spending time with her two rescue dogs — Cadence the Labrador retriever and Gus the French bulldog — and enjoying weekends in the great outdoors hiking, kayaking and fishing. That recharges her batteries for another week competing in an industry that has become more welcoming to women into the workforce.
“If anything, when I hear men talk about women in the industry now, they talk about how we need more women, especially in project manager positions,” Thomas said. “Women tend to be detail-oriented, and there’s definitely value in that.”
Lauren Smith grew up in Southern California eager to follow the path of her father into the construction industry.
“Working in construction management has been my dream job since I was about 4 years old,” Smith said. “My dad was my biggest influence, and I had experience going to jobsites with him. I often say I grew up playing with blueprints instead of Barbies.”
Smith began her professional career with a roofing company in Dallas as a project manager, planning each stage of installations or repairs to ensure they were done on time and on budget. During her five years in that role, she sometimes rented assets from EquipmentShare.
So Smith was already familiar with the company when she got married, moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and saw EquipmentShare had an opening for a facilities project manager. She got the job in 2022 and has used her experience and attention to detail to help manage the construction and repairs of the company’s branches and facilities.
EquipmentShare prides itself on helping its employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. In her free time, Smith enjoys exploring and photographing the natural beauty of the many waterfalls near her new hometown. She gets the same satisfaction at work appreciating the results of her meticulous planning.
“I like working with the best of the best, and through working with them, I love to see the final product — something beautiful that I had a part in,” Smith said.
When an EquipmentShare sales rep submits an order for a piece of construction equipment in the Kansas City area, it’s rental coordinator Lucy Berry’s cue to begin her juggling act.
Some people juggle balls and bowling pins — Berry juggles bulldozers and backhoes.
“I manage a revolving door of emails, calls and text messages from sales reps from all over the country who have customers doing jobs in Kansas City, as well as local business owners or employees with generic inquiries,” Berry said. “Once a deal is sealed and sent in to the KC branch for fulfillment, my job is to go over it with a fine-tooth comb, as quickly as possible. Do we have that piece of equipment with all its specialized features required or requested? If not, is there a substitute unit that will sufficiently complete the job? Will a unit be off-rent soon enough with time for us to get a truck under it and our shop to do their thorough inspections and cleanings to turn it, or will I need to outsource that equipment from another ES branch nearby? Considering the freight costs, availability on hauling time and duration of the rent, will this make business sense? Is the equipment prepped or compatible with any additional features needing to be added, removed or ordered? I'll write up the rental agreements and send out the contracts, confirm their deliveries are still set and feasible, keeping both reps and customers as up to date as possible.”
Spending days problem-solving in a fast-paced job suits Berry, who had worked in the mortgage business before joining EquipmentShare in 2020. She liked the company so much she encouraged her husband, Kenny, to join her. He works out of the same branch as a territory account manager. When they’re not working, they enjoy making improvements to their home, watching their favorite St. Louis sports teams in action and visiting the Lake of the Ozarks on summer weekends.
“I’ve found working here very comfortable and enjoyable,” Berry said. “Once in a while, a customer will come in to pick up equipment and keep looking around in circles when I’m the one standing right there at the front desk ready to help them. But all the people I work with and the vast majority of the industry itself are great, and I see no reason why any woman can’t be in this field. I love it.”
EquipmentShare is growing nationwide, and we’re on the lookout for talented team members in all departments. Check out our job openings at equipmentshare.com/careers.