|Mercedes Gamor went to New Mexico with the dream of becoming a lawyer, not a residential general contractor like her father. Working her way through college, she took a job at the Home Builders Association. Now, after 10 years as a woman in construction, she is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist for Prime Electric, a full-service electrical contractor on the West Coast. She also serves as the 2022-2023 President of the NAWIC Puget Sound Chapter 60 and as the Pacific Northwest Region DE&I Chair and Spring Forum 2024 Chair.|
How she came to embrace the construction industry
While a Member Specialist at the Home Builders Association, Gamor realized there was a labor gap. She sought to connect young people with industry leaders for job opportunities, sponsorships, and networking by chartering the Lobo Builders, an NAHB-affiliated student chapter at the University of New Mexico. In the first year, the chapter was recognized nationally as Student Chapter of the Month and as Rookie Chapter of the Year at the International Builders Show. Despite this early success, Gamor still had no intention of staying in construction.
It took 3 years at HBA, followed by a position in sales and marketing and then as a warranty coordinator for a family-owned residential general contractor, to change her mind. She discovered she loved working with homeowners, vendors, suppliers, subcontractors, and field superintendents in her new role. Since then, she has held several positions in the construction industry: in accounting, as Assistant Project Manager, and in her current role as DEI Specialist for Prime Electric.
“With my new role in DEI, I'm not sure if my goals will change as I grow in this position. But ever since I made the switch from a path in law to construction, I have wanted to own a residential general contracting business. That's where I started. It's my childhood, and I love being a part of making something people will cherish and create memories in,” she said.
On the state of the construction industry
“As a minority and woman in construction, I am in a unique position to understand and relate to the struggles diverse partners and team members can experience. Companies are focusing on DEI and are working to institute change and that's what I am most excited for in the industry right now.”
She added, “It's also exciting and reassuring that the stigma around mental health is lessening. COVID let people realize that they aren't alone in their feelings and that everyone struggles. I've have seen more and more people willing to talk about their stressors, their emotions, their well-being, and ask for help and resources. “
How NAWIC has been a part of her career
“NAWIC has empowered me to stand up for what I believe in and has helped me grow personally as well as professionally. I have been given opportunities to participate in women in construction and DEI work that is vital to the growth of this industry and my company. I've been able to make connections across the nation, grow my network, and start making steps toward my future goals. My new role in DEI at PRIME can be directly related to my work with the NAWIC DE&I committee.” Her ultimate career goal is to create a national network of construction-related businesses to support people coming out of incarceration, such as those exonerated by the Innocence Project.
“I love many things about my career, but what I think I love most is being a part of something larger than myself. That could be being a part of NAWIC or DEI at Prime or being a part of an in-progress or completed project,” Gamor said.
Her advice for future women in construction
“The construction industry is an amazing place to learn and grow and the horizons are endless. There are so many opportunities here, and they just keep getting better and better as we continue to advocate for ourselves, other women, and become a more inclusive environment. Don't forget to join NAWIC for the connections, mentorship, development, and sisterhood!”