Owner, Maximo Construction
Arcadia Maximo will be one of the featured speakers at our BYOB (Be Your Own Boss) event on September 6 in San Francisco. Click for more info.
When Arcadia Maximo reported for her first construction job, her foreman threw his hard hat down and said, “Damn it, they sent me a girl.” Maximo has since shown him, and all the other doubters in the male-dominated construction world, just what girls can do.
It was while working as a fashion stylist for Macy’s after college that Arcadia became smitten with construction work. Not so much with the way the industry worked, though: Once she realized that, as a woman, she would never be promoted to foreman, she decided to just become her own boss. She supplemented a four-year apprenticeship through the builder’s union with classes in construction management, got her contractor’s license, and launched the thriving San Francisco-based Maximo Construction in 2000.
Arcadia can measure her achievements in terms of the many referrals she gets from happy clients, her role as an early proponent of green building, or the fact that she now teaches hands-on construction at City College, but she instead considers herself successful because of how happy she is every day.
What we learned from Arcadia: “Be honest with yourself. Know what you can handle. Know your limitations.”
Can Girls Do That?
“There was a guy on our [design] crew [at Macy’s] … I would watch him, and I was like, ‘Where did you learn how to make all of this stuff?’ I mean, anything we came up with, he could build it. So he told me he worked as a carpenter. Me being really naive, I didn’t think that was something women could do. I even asked him, ‘Can girls do that?’ He kind of laughed at me and said, ‘Of course.'”
Learning the Ropes
“In order to work on a construction site, I had to join the union. Once I was in the union, they had a four-year apprenticeship program. So I did that. I didn’t think I’d actually stay in construction. My idea was to kind of go into construction to learn how to build things, but I still wanted to be creative and to go back into display.”