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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Tammy Baxley, President, Boswell Construction LP

Spotlight - Tammy Baxley, President, Boswell Construction LP

image Tammy Baxley, President, Boswell Construction LP, Houston, TX

HOUSTON - Tammy Baxley didn’t know she wanted her father’s business until it almost became someone else’s. When she and niece Bridgette Wright purchased the business in 2006, she realized that her love for the industry had been there, waiting for her to discover it all along.

 

 

 


How were you introduced to construction?
    My family founded Boswell Construction in 1968. My father, Charles Boswell, started with a shovel and one man, started digging and ended up in concrete somehow. I grew up going to job sites with him and when I was a teenager, I would come in and do filing, paperwork and miscellaneous things for him at the office; that’s how I was introduced to the concrete business.

Growing up, was it your plan to run your dad’s business one day?

     I had absolutely no plans to go into the concrete business; it wasn’t anything I even thought about until later in life. After high school, I went to college for a short period of time and then I started flipping houses in the Houston area, and it was a source of income for many years. It was a fun way to make money but a lot of work.

What changed your mind?
    My dad started talking about retiring. My niece, Bridgette Wright, who worked for him at the time doing his books, and I went to lunch one day and decided if he was going to retire, it might be interesting to take it over for him. I began working full-time there just to learn the business and the ins and outs of construction. We threw the idea around, but we decided it wasn’t for us. At the time, women in construction, much less concrete construction, were not really heard of, so we let it go.
    A year later, we learned someone was interested in purchasing Boswell Construction from my father. That lit a fire under me, and Bridgette and I decided that we wanted to purchase Boswell from him. We went in together and purchased the company as partners in 2006.

What were the first years of owning the business like for you and Bridgette?
    I don’t know that anything really surprised me, since I was around this business growing up; I knew a lot even though I didn’t know I knew it. I knew it was going to be hard work going into it. The first few years were actually not so bad because my father was still kind of in the background taking care of some of the big problems that arose. It was a learning curve for both of us on how to read the plans and do bids. Of course, we were trying to prove that we didn’t need my father’s help, but it was quite the challenge. Bridgette and I found ourselves on job sites plenty of times with shovels in our hands doing whatever we had to do to get a job done because we really didn’t know it all the first couple of years. We found that out really quick. We were definitely determined to make this work, though, especially since it was a company my father had started. It was something that we took very seriously.

Was it hard for your dad to hand over the reins of his company?

    He said the best day was when he retired. The only thing that bothered him about leaving was that we never called him for advice! But it was a big thing for Bridgette and I to prove that we could do this.

Who mentored you?
    Of course my father mentored me over the years. I can remember walking on to job sites with him, and without a set of plans in his hand, he would go critique it and tell the guys exactly what was not correct according to the plans. I thought I would never be able to do that. Now, I can walk on a job site and spot problems, and think, “I’ve made it!”
    My mother, Kay, also was a huge part of Boswell Construction; she is the one who basically kept it running when we were kids and she was definitely my mentor as well as far as teaching me the ins and the outs of the finances.

What strengths do you and Bridgette bring to the company?

    Bridgette is definitely the organizer of our company. She is a multitasker like no one I’ve ever met, and I’m the opposite! She basically runs the field and deals with all of our builders and employees and I basically handle all of the money, paper-work and bidding. I couldn’t do her job and she couldn’t do mine so this is definitely a partnership that’s needed.

How have you and Bridgette changed the company?

    I don’t know that we’ve made it different. Why mess up something that had succeeded for 50 years? I can say that, in the last five years, all of our builders know now that Mr. Boswell has retired and no longer with the company, and even knowing that, they are continuing to use Boswell Construction even though Bridgette and I have taken over. We just try to continue the quality of work that my dad always put forth in all of his jobs.

How is your company structured?
    We have 10 employees on our payroll and then we use a lot of subcontractors. Two or three of our employees have been with us for almost 30 years, and the minimum amount of time our employees have worked for us is 10 years. We have a great group of guys that definitely make us look good.

Why do you think employees stay?
    I think it is because Boswell is a stable company and in the construction business, the companies that stick around are very few and far between from what I’ve seen and experienced. Of course, we feel like we are part of the family also, since they’ve been with us for so long. That was an adjustment too, when Bridgett and I took over because suddenly they had female bosses. It was an adjustment for a couple of years, because they’ve known us since we were young; being their bosses changed things. It all ironed out though, and now, we’re just one big family. We take care of them, and they take care of us.

How do you bond with your employees?
    Well, I would say that the way we bond with our employees is money – we tried the whole cookout thing, but they don’t like our cooking! So we do bonuses and we personally try to help all of our employees when there is a need for it.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
    I fell in love with construction, with the processes, building things. Working with men was definitely a challenge in the beginning in the construction business, but 12 years later, I have a great clientele. I feel like we’re very trusted and we get great compliments on our work.
    The one thing I love most is I meet new people all of the time through this business. Every job is a new challenge, which I love. It’s just always something new. The company is now over 60 years old, which is just not heard of that often, so I’m very satisfied that we’ve reached the milestone that we have being women in the construction industry.

How do you enjoy your free time?

    Since we just can’t stand to be away from each other – which I am saying very sarcastically! – Bridgette and I bought a piece of land in Waller. Bridgette is going to build a house on one side of the land, and I’m going to build a house on the other side. Right now, we’re in the clearing process and all I do every weekend is get on my John Deere tractor and mow and play. It’s where I get all of my thinking done is on the back of the tractor.
    Our entire family is close. It’s a huge family; I have four siblings, and family time is so important to all of us. We like to get all of us, including the kids and the grandkids, together once a month and go to my parents’ lake house.

What plans do you and Bridgette have for the company?
     Both Bridgette and I are chance takers, but we’re going to pretty much continue on this path. We have both thought about going different routes and expanding what we do, like decorative concrete and other specialty concrete. One thing that we found out is that to keep our employees happy and to keep Bridgette and I satisfied, we decided just to keep doing what we know and doing what we do now. It has just worked so well for us and has provided a nice living.
    I have a son who is just now 22 and he is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Of course, I want him to come in and run the concrete business but who knows where the road will lead? This is going to be what I do for the rest of my life. I’ll retire, but I have no plans to do that anytime soon.
    Subcontractor Boswell Construction LP is located in Houston. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net