We took the time to sit down with Paulina Guida, the owner of CNZ Contracting, a signatory contractor, to discuss how she broke into the business and what it’s like for a woman to own and operate a construction contracting company.
How did you get started in the construction industry?
When exploring career paths, construction wasn’t something that initially came to mind. I had limited knowledge of what’s involved in this field. Growing up, it was never a thought in my mind that as a woman there were careers in construction that weren’t on your tools. I started off working as a parttime payroll assistant and realized it’s a diverse field with opportunities for all types of people. After years of learning about all the different aspects of not only managing projects, but also managing a construction business, I was ready to start something of my own. That’s when CNZ was formed.
What is it like being a woman and owning a construction business?
I think the biggest challenge is proving that we are capable of getting the work done. I still come across individuals who are surprised that I am the owner or that I work in construction at all, but the industry is evolving. There are a lot more women in the business now. We are fortunate that general contractors like Turner Construction take the initiative to involve Women Owned Businesses on their projects. It’s an honor to be involved on such an important project and it gives us the opportunity to showcase just how much we are capable of.
You are currently working on a project for Lincoln Center, which is your biggest project to date. Can you tell us about what you’re working on?
We are installing all the woodwork, e.g., the wall paneling, which must be acoustically sound, the balcony fronts, the stage, and all other woodworking aspects. The biggest challenge on the Lincoln Center project is the complexity of the project. There are lots of pieces to the puzzle and they all must fit perfectly. It all must look and sound good. It requires a great deal of coordination, planning, and troubleshooting along the way. Luckily, we have a great team, and we owe a lot to the hard work of our union carpenters.
How has the union helped you succeed?
We employ only union carpenters, and they are the most talented and hardworking guys around. A lot of general contractors have initiatives where they want women and minority owned businesses on projects. It’s one thing to get women and minority owned businesses, but it’s another to find qualified workers who know what they’re doing – that’s where union carpenters come in. We have a lot of repeat customers because our experience and our service speak for itself. We employ a lot of carpenters who’ve been doing this for a very long time.