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Making her own way

Biloxi’s Tracie Normand heads construction company and organization for women in industry

Memphis native Tracie Normand became interested in construction while working for a Memphis insurance agency that specialized in construction. That’s where she met her husband, Daniel, a contractor who was at that time building a restaurant in Memphis. They moved to Biloxi in 2003 and started Tracie Normand Construction in 2004.

The company specializes in custom millwork and solid surfaces for both commercial and residential needs with a full-service shop in Gulfport. Its work can be seen through out the Gulf Coast, including the new Gulfport Yacht Club, Great Southern Club, South Beach Hotel and numerous restaurants and homes.

“As a woman in a male-dominated field I am met with many challenges,” she says. “One of which is having to prove myself to male counterparts. Gender and stereotyping are not as common as they used to be, but, unfortunately they still exist. Although the construction industry has come a long way in accepting women in leadership roles, it still has a long way to go.”

TRACIE NORMAND

TRACIE NORMAND

Normand feels being a woman in construction is a strength because she offers a different perspective with a communication style that can change in different business situations. She says changing the role of women is the biggest challenge for women in the industry. “We are no longer sitting behind the scenes. Women are stepping to the front as architects, engineers, project managers and forepersons,” she said. “With these advancements, other challenges arise, but with a belief in oneself and a strong support system, women will soon be accepted in all parts of construction.”

The best advice she can give to women entering the construction industry is to follow their hearts. “If entering this industry is something you truly want, give it your all and don’t get discouraged,” she said. “The National Association of Women in Construction’s core purpose is to enhance the success of women in the industry. It offers networking, educational opportunities, meetings, conventions, publications and support for women in this industry.”

She is president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of Women in Construction and uses the position to show women that construction is not just for men. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) was founded in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1953 by 16 women. There are now 167 chapters and more than 4,000 members. The two Mississippi chapters, Gulf Coast and Jackson, have 40 members with 21 of those from the Coast. NAWIC also has international affiliation agreements with chapters in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Normand says the construction industry is suffering as the economy has taken a toll on it. Additionally, the Coast industry took a hit with the BP oil spill. But, she come back stronger than ever as it did after Hurricane Katrina.

She and Daniel work together overseeing the field and shop operations while she handles office operations. Sometimes their areas overlap. “What one of us lacks, the other is there to help,” she said. “We make a wonderful team both on and off sites.”

As a business woman, she defines success as reaching a point in life and career where goals have been achieved and a sense of accomplishment prevails. Success to her does not mean just having money in the bank.

Normand relaxes by playing tennis, a sport she recently began. “I truly enjoy it,” she said. “If I can do a little bragging, our 5.0-rated mixed-combo league took first place on the Coast last summer and went to the state competition.”

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About Lynn Lofton

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