|Driven by a passion for designing her own home, Carlee Ludwig dreamed of being the next famous architect. After receiving her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she earned a master's degree in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management “to broaden her horizons”. But working at an architect's office out of college, she didn't feel fulfilled.|
“Allow things to change and allow yourself to find a path that's right for you.”
Dissatisfied, Ludwig took a chance on a job with a mechanical contractor. “I was hesitant – this was not my specialty, and I knew NOTHING about piping or ductwork. I started drawing ductwork, but I learned quickly and moved fast. I moved into estimating sheet metal and eventually moved into where I am today.”
Today, Ludwig manages a team of seasoned estimators at Mid Atlantic Mechanical as the Vice President of Estimating, overseeing six full-time estimators and two administrators. She reviews all estimates and proposals for HVAC, plumbing, and piping projects at all stages of design/construction. Her team typically bids $500 million a year of mechanical and plumbing work for projects throughout New Jersey. She has also developed an extensive real estate business focusing on single-family fix and flips in Central New Jersey and commercial multifamily properties throughout the country.
“It is most exciting to be on the front lines of the industry, watching communities change and cities morph as the need and focus change with time.” Ludwig added, “The need for quality tradesmen and tradeswomen is a reality and I would love for these industries to become more welcoming to women. These fields (including HVAC technicians, sheet metal workers, plumbers, pipe fitters, electricians, etc.) need to be portrayed as careers and not just jobs.”
The toughest challenge Ludwig has faced as a woman in construction has been overcoming the misconception that she isn't knowledgeable about the mechanical industry, or that she was someone's secretary. “Each instance pushed me to work harder and learn anything and everything that came my way,” she said. Ludwig is appreciative of the support along the way from her co-workers and her employer. Mid Atlantic Mechanical encourages women to apply for internships with the company and introduces them to all aspects of the business including estimating, project management and drafting.
NAWIC: “Women helping other women to become greater tomorrow than they were yesterday”
A member of the Princeton, NJ chapter, Ludwig also credits NAWIC with helping her to succeed. “Through NAWIC, I have been able to connect with women who are like-minded in an industry where women are already so sparse. Building those relationships and knowing that I'm not alone drives me to become a better version of myself. Their stories are inspiring, and they really care about seeing others succeed to their greatest potential.”
Advice for women in construction
For women considering a career in construction, Ludwig offers this advice. “Construction is tough and you must stay motivated. You should be curious and consistently try to better yourself and others. Continue to network and align with like-minded people to help grow personally and professionally.”
If you know of a NAWIC member that deserves to be recognized as a Best Person for the Job, contact us today!