At first glance, Chapman Construction Group, Inc. (CCGI) looks like many other businesses in the Boston region. And as a small company built on hard work, dedication, and experience, Chapman Construction understands that the only thing that truly matters in this industry is results. What’s unique about CCGI—other than their proven track record—is that they’re a woman-owned company in one of the most male-dominated industries.
The “Chapmans” are Vicki Chapman, the founder and president, and Sue Chapman, a veteran who joined in as CEO in 2009. Together, they’ve built a tough brand that breaks stereotypes and helps new apprentices get into the field.
The Only Woman on the Job
When talking about her decades of experience in the construction industry, Vicki is quick to point out that while construction isn’t an easy job for anyone, it’s especially challenging for women. “You have to be extra strong as a woman in this business,” she says. “Number one, it’s physical, and number two, it’s mental. . . it’s like working with all your brothers. You have to deal with them, you know.”
When Vicki first started, the union had barely started to admit women into its ranks, and she wasn’t accepted by her male coworkers. “It was very hard. . . [and] there were no bathrooms for us.” Explaining further, she says, “They didn’t want to show you the work because they didn’t want you to get paid the same amount of money as them. . . they didn’t think you could do the same job as them. So, they would hide stuff from you or not teach you anything. Every single job you went on, you had to re-prove yourself.”
Vicki was usually the one woman on the job. “When I got into the apprenticeship, there were five girls in my class. I’m the only one left. And I’ll tell you, out of those girls, some of them quit because they couldn’t take it anymore. They couldn’t get out of bed and go to work at a job that they hated, and where they would always constantly be put down.”
Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is Born
Nonetheless, she stuck through it, and in 2002 she started her own business. Though women being in the industry was rare, and female owners were even rarer, Vicki calculated that the worst case scenario would have been going broke, closing up shop, and returning to work for someone else. Thankfully, that didn’t happen—the company held up even through tough times, and she loved her newfound freedom. In 2009, her original partner departed, paving the way for Sue Chapman to enter the fold as the company’s CEO.
However, Sue’s first career track was in science, after which she joined the military as a way to finish college. From basic training onward, she regularly found herself elevated to leadership positions. She believes this to be a side effect of growing up as the oldest of five kids. If her unit hadn’t disbanded, she might still be in the service today. “I feel like I’m more disciplined because of it.”
Since Sue and Vicki started working together, both women have combined their individual strengths to push the company to new heights. A big moment, as they tell it, was when Eastern Bank approved them for their first loan. Their support in Chapman team has encouraged them to continue using their services today.
As they march into the future, the Chapmans have kept their love and dedication for their company and loyal workers well in sight. They’re remarkably humble about how groundbreaking their woman- and veteran-owned business is. “[Being a woman-owned business] opens more doors, but you [still] have to go through them.” The industry has continued to evolve since CCGI first started, in ways that Chapman Construction see as positives.
The Chapmans make it a point to break down doors for other women to enter the industry. For example, when they call the union for new workers, they’re quick to hire women because they understand how difficult it can be to find work as a woman within the construction industry.
Learn more about how the Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is providing opportunities for women to enter a more male-dominated industry.