Jennifer Todd is founder and president of LMS General Contractors, located in Pompano Beach, Fla. The firm, launched in 2013, specializes in asbestos abatement, COVID-19 disinfection and sanitization, demolition, environmental services and more across California and the Southeast U.S. To date, the company has completed work in 13 states and managed the removal of more than 5 million square feet of hazardous materials.
Todd is a 15-year construction industry leader who was the youngest Black woman to acquire a Class A California general engineering license. She also has a law degree from Arizona State University. She has been recognized as a 2020 Top Newsmaker by R&R’s sister publication Engineering News Record (ENR), a 2020 Outstanding Women in Construction finalist by Construction Business Owner Magazine, a 2021 ENR 20 Under 40 Construction Professional, and a 2021 ENR Southeast Top Young Professional.
As a Black, woman contractor-owner in a largely white, male-dominated field, she has navigated racism and sexism. As a Millennial, she has also experience ageism as a career obstacle. In this open, candid interview, Todd shares real examples of working in spaces she was not welcome.
“At this point in my career, I’ve done enough work that I can be honest about the challenges I’ve faced so: 1) other people are aware that they’re not alone, and 2) maybe it will stop or maybe we can curb the bad behavior by bringing awareness to it,” Todd said.
The challenges she has faced based on her race, gender and age have only elevated her passion for being a servant leader who helps advance underrepresented groups within her own business and attract underrepresented groups to the construction industry as a whole.
“The key component to being a leader is sometimes we see things that the employee or our staff, they may not see in themselves. Or, because someone else gave us an opportunity, whether it was an ally or a mentor, just really paying it forward and really keeping your eyes open to people who are just like you [were] in that position. They may not have known what to do, but they want to know and they have the willingness to do the work,” Todd said. “Someone bet on me. And so, it’s my responsibility now to ensure that I provide opportunities for people who look like me who just need a chance.”
In a world where attracting and retaining talent is a key challenge for restoration and remediation employers, Todd believes great opportunity exists at the intersection of diversity and inclusion, and workforce management.
“We can’t really talk about the labor shortage without talking about the diversity component. Forever it’s been two conversations,” she said.
This episode covers:
- The series of mishaps and coincidences that led Todd to remediation
- Advancing from an administrative assistant to president of her own remediation company
- The important role Todd’s initial manager played in pushing her toward a successful career in remediation
- Todd’s focus on strategic growth for LMS Contractors in her role as president
- An overview of services LMS Contractors offers, as well as the tools and technology Todd considers key to field- and business-side success
- Facing and conquering racism, sexism and ageism as an owner and project manager
- Excelling as a Black woman in a white-, male-dominated industry
- The decision and process of obtaining a law degree, and how it now protects Todd’s business
- Project managing a job at The Palazzo in Las Vegas involving approximately 1.7 million square feet of asbestos-containing materials
- Why leaders should not only talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion, but take action
- Being her authentic self and encouraging employees to do the same
- Creating a company culture of belonging and advancement
- The importance of investing in employees beyond training and certifications, by checking in with them to assess if their goals and interests around the work they do have evolved
- How and why to hire a more diverse group of direct employees and subcontractors
- The value of LinkedIn and social media overall as a resource for connecting with industry peers and marketing to customer and prospects
Check out this episode of Ask the Expert to learn more. You can watch the video here or listen to the audio version of our conversation here. You can also find our show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Just search for Restoration & Remediation Ask the Expert, then hit Follow.
If you’d like to share your story on a future episode of Real Stories in Restoration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.