Personnel File - December 2007: Women Executives
Rodgers Builders Inc., Charlotte
To Pat Rodgers’ way of thinking, construction is a simple business. You do what you say you’re going to do, do it on time and stand behind your work. She has hammered those planks into a more than $350 million-a-year business. Rodgers Builders is a leader in health-care construction, ranked sixth in the nation by Modern Healthcare magazine. She prides herself on staying in customers’ good graces. She won’t take jobs solely for volume’s sake and tries not to sweat the inevitable downturns.
She knows from experience that hard times come and go. She arrived in Charlotte 35 years ago, desperate for work. Her then-husband had been laid off from an aerospace job in St. Louis. She landed at Rodgers Builders as a part-time receptionist. “We were small then, and I got to do whatever I wanted. So I learned how to do estimates and read plans and then went back to school in the early ’80s and got my contractor’s license.” In 1991, she married founder B.D. Rodgers, now the chairman. They run the operation together. An engineer, he puzzles over blueprints; she tends to contracts, customers and staff.
Her management tenets are straightforward: Get other people to talk. Then listen. “I encourage my people to challenge me. I don’t think any of them hesitate. And I’m a believer in meetings — short ones. Meetings bring people together to share information and to challenge each other. As big as we’ve gotten, we still have lots of meetings.”
To manage her industry’s inevitable zigzags, Rodgers, 60, teams with other outfits when possible, happy to share credit if that means sharing risk. Rodgers Builders, for example, worked with Charlotte-based RT Dooley Construction on two hometown projects: the main building on Johnson & Wales University’s campus and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.