Candy Lammers, owner of CSL Contracting LLC, spoke to dozens of girls in non-traditional programs on Wednesday. (Photos submitted)
Candy Lammers, owner of CSL Contracting LLC, spoke to dozens of girls in non-traditional programs on Wednesday. (Photos submitted)

VAN WERT – On Wednesday, dozens of girls in non-traditional programs at Vantage heard from Candy Lammers during a lunch and learn program. Lammers is the owner of CSL Contracting LLC and a Vantage alumni. She spoke about being a woman in a non-traditional field and explained the importance of starting at the bottom of a career.

"I talked to the girls about how I started in construction and worked my way up to having my own company now," said Lammers. "I encouraged them to be proud to start at the bottom and work their way up and figure things out. It took almost 18 years of experience to get where I'm at."

Lammers typically works on the construction of school buildings. She spoke about the various types of construction that takes place on a project such as a new school. Laborers, electricians, welders, plumbers, and machinery operators are just some of the various types of careers that are needed on a construction site. Lammers also explained that in her position she works with architects, members of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), and school district members.

"It's not just laborers that are out there working," said Lammers. "I wanted to make sure that they (the girls) knew that there are so many different areas of what their field is that they could use it for."

As a woman in a non-traditional field, Lammers has faced adversity. She explained that it's important to always remain professional and to persevere. Lammers began her construction career as a laborer and feels that starting in that position and working her way up helped her gain knowledge and respect.

"You're going to work next to people who may not always like you because you're in a non-traditional field and that's okay," said Lammers. "You still have to do your job and they still have to do their job. I tried to really encourage the girls to go after their goals."

Forty-five girls were in attendance on Wednesday; they asked Lammers if she sees other women on construction sites.

"My last job I had a female dry-waller; the job before that, I had a female equipment operator," said Lammers. "There are girls out there all the time. My architect right now–a woman. My lady from the OFCC–a woman. The treasurer of my school–a woman. It's happening; girls are getting out there and they are not afraid. I love it."

Programs involved in the non-traditional lunch and learn meeting included Ag and Industrial Power Tech, Auto Technology, Auto Collision Repair, Welding, Industrial Mechanics, Precision Machining, Electricity, Carpentry, Construction Equipment Technology, Criminal Justice, Network Systems, and Interactive Media.

"Our main goals are to bring awareness of all job possibilities in our students' perspective career fields, to courageously use their resources and achieve their career goals, and open a door by creating a bond between one another as females in current male-dominated careers," said Vantage Community Relations Coordinator Miriam Owens of the non-traditional lunch and learn program.

"Female leaders continue to increase in non-traditional career pathways and Vantage is no exception, as the enrollment of girls in these programs increase, currently at 50," she continued. "We are very grateful to have had Candy present to our students as both a successful businesswoman in construction and a Vantage alumni. Her skills, experiences, knowledge and encouragement are invaluable to our students as they move forward in their careers."

Advisors present for the non-traditional lunch and learn program were Kelly Houg of the YWCA, Jill Louginbil of Eaton, Heather Gottke of the OSU Extension Office, Rachel Hoverman of the OSU Extension Office, Dee Dee Meringleo-Dirksen of Vantage Adult Education, Gail Gillette of Vantage EMIS, and Vantage Community Relations Coordinator Miriam Owens.