Story and Gallery by KOWHAI ANDERSON
Professional ambition is expected of males, while only optional for females. For one Utah businesswoman, she has chosen to use her professional success to make an impact on her employees, community, friends and family.
Stacy Kelly is the owner of Construction Material Recycling, a Utah based company founded in 2004. Her company specializes in construction and excavation. Its services include rotomilling, heavy hauling and crushing.
At Canyons Resort, Construction Material Recycling is building two new ski runs, bridge embankments and roads for new houses. They handle construction on Interstate 80 through Parley’s Canyon. They recently finished road work at Bear Lake, and construction in American Fork.
Kelly is in charge of 25 employees, all male. She said every worker is OK with working for her. In fact, some are honored. Kelly said, “Each employee looks out for me and makes sure I am taken care of. This is due to the type of employer I am. I believe you need to be kind.”
“I think this is something women understand better than men,” Kelly stated. “There needs to be a little bit of compassion.”
Kelly shows this in the way she treats her employees. For example, she gives each of her employees heartfelt birthday cards, filled with loving words and numerous gift certificates. She believes if compassion exists, any leader can have a more dynamic team.
“It’s the little things you think about doing for someone, whether that be work, school, family, friends, whatever,” Kelly said, “it’s those little things that put the icing on the cake to seal the relationship.”
Originally, Kelly didn’t see herself building a career in the construction industry. However, those closest to her felt she would thrive. So, she obtained her contractor’s license, which can only be rewarded after passing a difficult exam.
“I cried all morning the day of the test,” Kelly stated. “I didn’t want to do this … I went to the testing center, and saw a lot of females there as well. I assumed they were all there for the same exam, feeling relief. Turns out, the majority of the women were going in for a cosmetology exam.”
Kelly passed the test with an 81 percent. For Kelly, this was the beginning of her journey in the industry of construction. She realized it would not be an easy road.
“It’s been an adventure,” Kelly said. “I enjoy doing what I’m doing, but it takes a lot of strength. People don’t believe you are doing it because you are a lady, and my main competition was the worst. Still can be today. He would say to me, when we would see each other at conferences or in the business field, ‘Um, why aren’t you doing scrapbooking like my wife? That’s where you should be!’”
While building the company, it was difficult for Kelly to balance being a business owner and a mother. She still finds it difficult, and says it has been her biggest challenge.
Kelly is a mother to nine children; four with her current husband and five adopted.
“In the beginning, it was easier,” Kelly said on being a mother. “At the time I had my ex-husband who was part of it. So, we are working together. Now my current husband is not part of the business. He works out of town, which has made balancing everything for me a lot harder.”
For Kelly, her kids have always been part of the business. She includes them in everything she does and has given them the opportunity to work for her once they reach the legal age of 18.
In 2008, Kelly moved to Coalville, Utah. Her company was based in Salt Lake, but moved north to the small town in 2014. It’s been easier for Kelly to have the business close to home. It allows her to be near family. Her kids are able to visit the office, which to them, feels like a second home.
The best part of being a business owner is the freedom to support her children in their activities.
She also loves the ability she has to serve those around her due to self-reliance. Kelly said she enjoys the process of creating, helping and supporting her community.
In Coalville, there is a 4-H program, which helps children develop life skills. Kelly has had the opportunity to fund this. If the children are putting forth effort to work hard, she will support them.
Kelly credits her success to a few key individuals. Ed Hansen, a man who is like a father to her, has helped her find direction. Cody Thorn, her partner in the business, has been there every step of the way. Dave Nicholson, a friend from her Entrepreneur Organization forum (a global business network which engages leading entrepreneurs to learn new skills), has helped her realize she can move forward even when things get difficult. He has been a big influence on Kelly.
“Stacy is incredibly hardworking. She loves her family and the people she works with,” Nicholson said.
Kelly stated, “Dave is the one who saw the light in me and said ‘you can do this.’”
Philip Anderson, a member of her EO forum, describes Stacy as “a woman with a heart of gold. She will do anything for anyone.”
The biggest lesson Kelly has learned in business is to never take anyone for granted.
“It doesn’t matter who they are in your company, your family, or your friendship circle, everybody has a purpose,” Kelly said. “We are all on a compass. We can go a million different ways, but as long as we stay focused and centered, then anything is possible.”