16 Jun Jean with Bjork Construction
Episode 46: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. I’m excited to introduce you to Jean Bjork. Jean is the Owner and CEO of Bjork Construction Company in the San Francisco Bay Area. A professional with over 35+ years of construction experience, Jean’s initial foray into the trades was as a welder. In 1988, Jean co-founded Bjork Construction while also raising a family, working full-time and earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
• You know, my parents had a welding machine shop. That’s how I became a welder because you know, it makes good money. Much better money, especially, you know, when you go back, you know, 40 years ago, what I could make as a secretary or what traditional women’s type, you know, roles professional would be. Right. So that’s what I did. And, and when I met him, we were both blue collar workers and hard workers. I have to say. So one day he said, you know, my company’s making a lot of money off of me, and I think I I’d just like to go into business for myself. What do you think let’s start a business? (01:41)
• We are a general contractor and we’re a carpentry subcontractor, which means we also work for other general contractors besides ourselves. We have a group of carpenters who do wood carpentry, which is different than Middlestead framing. Right now, it’s private and in the past we’ve done government work. It just depends. I have to say in construction, you have to learn to pivot. We have trends right now. The trend is, is very much residential. If you look around every city in the United States, we’re building a lot of homes for people. (05:16)
• So I saw that you’re a part of the women in construction expo. Is that right? Yeah. The women in construction expo in San Francisco. We haven’t had that since COVID. Is that the one you’re talking about or the one? Well, yeah, it was just, I was reading through kind of some of your background and you guys have done so much and your company is so, you know, well renowned. I just, you know, because I can’t ignore the fact that obviously you’re a woman running this construction company. Is there a passion or a drive that you want to encourage more women in construction? Did you help start the expo? Like what things, what beliefs do you have about that? What things have you done to maybe, you know, try to, to expose more women to the industry? Yeah, I am passionate about it. I think that so many times we have, and all this gender talk today kind of cracks me up because I think that sometimes we focus too much on what men do, what women do, you know? Where, I think you are what you are born to be, you know? But at the same time, society tries to limit us, both men and women to define this is what women do. (17:13)
• What do you think is the best part of your job? The best part of my job is when I see us grow and how successful we come over the years and the making, you know? It’s about the people that work for us and, and my family, it’s all of us, the team. I like working with the team. I like it when we’re successful on projects. And, also too, just seeing the projects when they’re completed is a level of satisfaction. That’s very tangible. And it feels good. Like I built that, right? I didn’t really build it with my hands, but, you know? Yeah. I was a part of it. Everybody built it. That’s, what I love about it, is like, it’s such a communal effort and there’s nobody that just gets to say, I did all of that thing myself. (24:37)
ABOUT JEAN BJORK:
Jean Bjork is Owner and CEO of Bjork Construction Company in the San Francisco Bay Area. A professional with over 35+ years of construction experience, Jean’s initial foray into the trades was as a welder. In 1988, Jean co-founded Bjork Construction while also raising a family, working full-time and earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Initially, Bjork Construction established itself as a premier custom home builder and built many large estates in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2006 Bjork Construction became a WBENC certified woman owned company, and in 2011 signed with the Northern California Carpenter’s Union. As Bjork Construction has evolved and grown, it is now recognized as a successful commercial builder to many Fortune 500 Companies and other influential clients.
Bjork Construction continues to distinguish itself as a rising star. In 2022, Bjork Construction was awarded the WBEC Pacific’s Business Excellence Award. In 2021, Bjork Construction ranked #9 on the SF Business Times’ list of Top Women Owned Companies in the Bay Area. In 2020, Jean was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame. 2019 brought Bjork Construction the WCOE/WBE Star Award, and in 2018, Bjork Construction was the recipient of the AGC’s Diversity & Inclusion Award.
Jean is an advocate for entrepreneurs, a champion of women in business and has been recognized nationally for excellence in business and for her commitment to diversity & inclusion in the workplace and community. Jean is an active participant in college and industry mentorship programs, volunteer work and enjoys organizing and participating in industry educational and outreach opportunities.
Jean’s advice to others?
“Be persistent. Pursue your passion. Know your worth, and don’t sell yourself or your product short. Lead with equality and inclusiveness. Strive to be the best, and always believe that you can improve.”
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