RISING Above Covid Challenges in the Construction Industry

The array of challenges facing Elizabeth Gomez, 43, was daunting.  She was trying to keep her residential and commercial remodeling business, Bridge City Contracting of Battle Ground, Washington, open during the pandemic.

Once the six-week construction lockdown ended in Washington State, new challenges arose.  “I couldn’t control all the variables: supply delays, tariffs, border closures, supply cost increases.”   And then she had to deal with the added safety requirements.  “I had to turn down two jobs because the clients wouldn’t follow Covid safety protocols.  It’s a big responsibility as a business owner, trying to follow the rapidly changing laws and requirements.”

Gomez is a recipient of Comcast RISE, a program aimed at helping small businesses that were disproportionately hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.  She is receiving a technology makeover from Comcast which will help her augment the technology applications she’s invested in to grow her business.

Being a Hispanic woman in the construction industry adds another layer of challenges to her success. She says matter-of-factly, “I don’t get the same respect as the men in the ‘Boys Club.’”  But Gomez draws on her degree in Organizational Communications, and she’s certain that she brings a skill to her clients that most of her competitors don’t have: superb communications.  “I don’t use jargon, I don’t talk down to people.  I develop a relationship so that I can build a space that meets their specific needs.”  Gomez recognizes that remodels are inherently stress-producing.  “It inconveniences every part of the client’s life, sometimes for months.  Communication is an overlooked part of the process.”

At the same time Gomez is juggling the demands of her business, she’s taking a leadership role in the industry, recently appointed to the Board of the Washington State Building Industry Association and is on the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Board of Trustees.  “Latinos make up a tremendous part of the homebuilding business.  I’m trying to change the face of this industry and ensure that we are represented.” Gomez also serves on the board of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Oregon.

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