A BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS
When Shelby Johnson showed up for her first engineering class at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, her response is a pretty good way of explaining her success. “My first reaction was surprise. I was the only woman there. Back then, I had no clue that women didn’t do this.”
Today, her way of thinking hasn’t changed. Johnson is the 60 percent owner of Theodore Williams Construction Company, LLC. She is one of a handful of successful women who occupy leadership roles in the construction industry, specializing in corporate interiors. There is one difference. Its reorganization, with Johnson as President and majority owner, made the new company eligible to receive Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certifications.
Johnson’s entry into the construction business is no surprise. Her father was an electrician, and her brother an electrical engineer. If this makes Johnson sound like the first woman who broke the gender barrier at places like The Citadel, that description isn’t too far off. When Johnson was applying to colleges, she applied there and received an application for admittance. The Citadel was completely unaware that Shelby was a woman and Shelby was completely unaware that it would be a problem. That attitude has stayed with her. “If I don’t expect there should be a problem doing something that hasn’t been done before, people respond to that, and there usually isn’t any.”
Theodore Williams Construction Company, Inc. from which the new company was formed, has served many of the Fortune 500 companies. Its list of customers includes major firms like Rudin Management Company, Inc., Sony, Blackstone and Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P.
Like its predecessor, the new Theodore Williams Construction Company, LLC, is a full service provider of interior alterations, restoration and base building construction. Its range of services includes general contracting, construction management, pre-construction budgeting and value engineering. The new entity has kept its hands-on management approach that ensures that its clients are kept fully informed about their projects progress. That suits Johnson’s hands-on management style perfectly. As president, she will oversee the entire company and make sure the work gets done.
Ms. Johnson has been at Theodore Williams Construction Company, Inc. since 1991. Johnson, who started out in the plan room at Nico, was known for seeing to it that the work got done. She caught on quickly. By the end of two years, she was doing her boss’s job.