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Focus - Living the dream

image Iris Luna, Owner, Proficient Constructors LLC, San Antonio, TX

SAN ANTONIO - Several years after attending college, Iris Luna went to work for a masonry contractor as a superintendent, until one day her grandpa asked her why not try to start your own company?






    To answer that, Luna recalls that as a youngster she would accompany her grandpa to jobsites, learning the ins and outs of masonry.  Her grandpa knew she had the talent and drive to run her own company and encouraged her to do so. So she went for it. Luna says that she learned a lot from her grandpa, but as a woman in the construction industry there was a lot more for her to learn and learn quickly she did.

What is your background in the construction industry?

    My family has always been part of the construction industry. My experience came from the field, first by gaining knowledge about the scope of work and then learning how to put that knowledge into practical use. In 2007, I founded Pro-
ficient Constructors LLC focusing on providing and installing all types of masonry applications.

Why did you choose a career in the construction-related industry?
    My grandfather owned a masonry company and since I was his little sidekick I developed a passion for wanting to create and build. I was fascinated with what my grandfather and his teams built and I wanted to be part of that somehow.

Do you have or have you had a mentor?

    Yes, and thankfully we have had a handful of people that have guided us along the way.  Currently we have a mentorship with EVENT Professional Services LLC. This is through the City of San Antonio’s Transportation & Capital Improvements Department. It is called the Management & Technical Assistance Program and we are in Phase II.  My mentors are Eugene Walker from EJ Smith Construction Company LLC and Elsa Brown of the Copeland Contracting Company Inc.

What are the benefits of women pursuing a construction career?

    In my opinion the main benefit may be for a woman to open a construction company.  In the past there has been a disparity in our public sector and now there are local agencies and programs advocating women owned businesses.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
    I enjoy the building process and how all of the scopes of work come together as a finished product. 

What specific challenges have you faced in your career?

    Some of the challenges we have faced have been increased competition and a limited skilled work force per our trades.

In your experience, are there more opportunities opening up for women?
    I have seen a slow increasing amount of women in the construction offices, but not really in the field performing trade work.

Is this due to the overall shortage of construction professionals and workers?

    No, I believe that women are more aware that they can have a nontraditional profession.  My mother and I have participated in a program called WINTO – Women In Non-Traditional Occupations and I believe and hope this is helping women by giving them insight and information on the opportunities in the construction industry.

What areas do you see the most increase in jobs for women?
    I have seen an increase in women project managers, estimators and engineers. I am not aware of the percentages of women completing trade educations, but I do feel that there are not many women in the field. For example, in my opinion, my mother is an anomaly that works as a tradesman’s HVAC technician who has been in the industry for 20 years, currently working for Airtron Heating & Air Conditioning.

What advice can you offer women who want to pursue a construction career?
    If you have ever been fascinated with how buildings are constructed, why they are built, what holds a building together and what it takes to complete the process, then go for it! Try your best because there is a place for you in this industry! 

    Proficient Constructors LLC is a professional masonry and concrete contractor in San Antonio. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net