Crossover Interview with Christi Powell of Women Talk Construction

Episode 70: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. Today, I am so excited to introduce you to Christi Powell. Christi has 27 years in the Commercial & Residential Construction field, and is the WBE Lead, supporting US locations for 84 Lumber. Join us as we do something a little new for this podcast, a crossover interview where we interview each other.

Listen in, we had so much fun!


Christi is the WBE (Women Business Enterprise) Lead supporting locations in the United States for 84 Lumber and has 27 years in the Commercial & Residential Construction field working in several key roles.

She currently serves as a Board of Director member including the NY Women Builders Council, the Skilled Trade Alliance, the LIBI Associate Board of Directors, and the Greenville Chamber Board of Advisors. She loves making a difference for women in the industry and helping women and minorities feel welcome in nontraditional careers. She holds the 2021 GWBC award for the WBE Advocate of the year and a 2021 Women of Influence Award.

Christi believes that people who are vulnerable, authentic, connected, and committed are the ones who will make a difference, no matter their industry.


•  There was a female store manager who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And she said, I don’t want to put you in credit. I want to put you in sales and commercial sales. And I was like, whoa, that’s big. Are you really sure? Because I can’t sell Avon, right? Like I want you to understand like where I’m coming from here. Like, Oh gosh, how old were you at this point? I was 34. Okay. Yeah. So I told her I’d try it if she gave me the opportunity to go back to credit. And so, you know, the store was being built and I got to drive around in a car and talk to all these cool men who are building cool things. And I wasn’t in an office with the door shut and I was the happiest person on the planet. Oh, that’s awesome. And we were able to get hundreds and hundreds of accounts set up just because I drove around and introduced myself to people, told them Lowe’s was coming to town, let me fill your credit out for you. Right? And all they had to do was sign it. And so we had over 400 accounts set up before the store opened. (03:45)

•  I went from being in the field all the time and had to learn how to walk like a girl, talk like a girl, act like a girl, right? Because I had not worn it. I didn’t dress like a girl and didn’t even like dressing like a girl my whole life. So it was one of those like shift changes for me. But I met some women in my local area that had a group called women construction forum. And I was traveling and meeting our people for 84, but also meeting a lot of women and minorities and asking them what they needed, right? That’s how I sell. It’s not really a sales tactic. It’s how can I help you? How can I add value? Just like what you said, we have so much in common. You know, once I gathered up all that information and I got a little more involved in this group with Rachel and Angela, Rachel and Angela’s group, just having a group of women that made me feel like I wasn’t strange was amazing. Like I had felt like I was on an island all by myself for 27 years. So being able to be like, they not only embraced me, but they encouraged me to be who I am and to strive with my gifts and keep moving forward to help other people. Because they knew that I loved helping people. (07:38)

•  I mean, even in my career in 27 years in the field, I worked really well with some of the men in the companies that I worked for, and still do. And really, really love that relationship because we bring two different perspectives to the table and it gives the ultimate user, whether it be the homeowner, the builder, the GC, an experience like no other. Yeah. Because he gets, they get the best or she gets the best of both worlds, right? The creativity, the details, and then, you know, the, the logical thinking and the, the really hard, sometimes not so easy to grasp as a female concepts of building, right? Yeah. So I just think it’s always worked really well when we’re together, working together. But absolutely, we are a dying breed. Like honestly, like being in the industry for a long time, we do need to be training this next generation, whether it’s girls or boys. What have you seen as the biggest change? Because you’ve been in it longer than I have. What have you seen? I think the biggest change is that the whole nation is on track to educate the next generation. (21:05)

•  But probably my favorite thing was being able to help their clients get what they needed. And to see the look on those kids’ faces when they saw their new bedroom, see the look on the parents’ faces when they, you know, all the things that we had planned and all the selections that we had made in the showroom were exactly, if not better, than what they had imagined. Right? That’s always been the most, the fun part for me emotionally. But structurally I’ve always loved, you know, we did a lot of turnkey. A lot of my customers did turnkey. So I would hire the framers and they would frame and I would kind of manage and we’d have team out there managing too. And the project would be finished and the house would be done and it’d be like, oh, this is so cool. Just to see it all finished. Right? The structure. Absolutely. I love it. What do you think you’re, do you have any, I don’t know, you seem like a goal type of person. Are you? Okay. Have you been thinking, crazy goal person. Have you been thinking about anything for next year or like any sort of thoughts on like the closing of this year? That’s a really good question. I’ve actually been thinking about closing out this year for a month, and my team and I have been working on action items to finish by the end of the year. So I want to close everything out, have everything clean slated by the first of the year. But I think our goals next year are really to spend more time with 84 Lumber training our own associates on what it means to be a woman owned business and how to interact and how to have those relationships with minority and women owned businesses because they need us helping them. (25:11)

•  I’m just curious because your thought process about it is a lot like mine, but it’s not easy to convey to folks who are married, who are newly married, who are thinking about getting married. There’s so many people that aren’t getting married right now because of the stigma around that. Gosh, that’s a good question. My marriage has not been easy. My husband and I have been through very difficult times. About seven years ago and it was the therapy for one. That helped me. Yes, love it. And two, it was the realization that my problems were not because of him. My problems were because of me and the things that I needed to change. And I am all about the mindset and attitude that instead of pointing fingers at people that I go, you know what? I’m going to clean up the kitchen with kindness. And this is my blessing that I have this home and these kids and these dishes and these clothes. And if I show him love and affection, and I show him the way that I love him through the way I talk or the way that I touch him or the way that I comfort him. That I know for a fact, it just goes back to that serving. I know for a fact it’s going to be received back to me and the way that I’m looking to feel loved or comforted. And so I go through the attitude of serving him first before pointing fingers at what he’s done wrong. (32:26)


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