A Woman of Asphalt: Meet Pittman’s Angel Griffith
BY Sandy Lender
Angel Griffith began working with Pittman Construction, Atlanta, June 28, 2017, and has already moved to the position of traffic control zone supervisor. Her life experiences, work experiences and commitment to quality have made her a well-rounded member of the crew, willing to take on whatever job is needed most at whatever time. Not each and every day is perfect on a paving job, and she was willing and ready to share her stories and encourage other women in the field.
AsphaltPro: Could you share what your job as the traffic control supervisor requires of you for the asphalt team?
Angel Griffith: My role as the traffic control zone supervisor is to form an elaborate plan to keep both the traveling public and my guys safe while moving throughout the work zone. This includes placing advance warning signs, lane closures, flagging operations, barrels on the shoulders and minor jobs like blowing out the curb in slow times or learning how to run a roller, broom or Bobcat, organize trucks, string line or dump trucks. I am also known for dragging a bag around picking up trash. My motto is “I promise we will leave it better than how we found it!”
AsphaltPro: Could you tell us about some changes you’ve seen in the asphalt team “culture” in the past couple of years?
Angel Griffith: My crew is my work family. Sometimes I see them more than I see my own kids! I feel like I have 30 big brothers out there. Asking if I need food or drink or help setting up, they have accepted me from day one, and if ever I messed something up they were always there to back me up.
For example, when I first started, I got the barrel truck and trailer stuck in the median with cars coming in both directions. Immediately, the guys jumped into action holding all lanes and my foreman at the time—Tater—jumped in the truck and rolled it on out the grassy median. And all this happened in what seemed like two minutes.
These guys are my family every day I roll on the job. I pray for their safety. I’ve cried with some and for some, and laughed with them all; we play and even eat together.
AsphaltPro: What part of your education relates best to the career track you’re on?
Angel Griffith: My career path made a total flop. I was headed for nursing school and ended up here and honestly I love it. I am hungry for knowledge and every day I try to learn something new. I hope to one day own my own traffic control company where every person shares the same passion.
AsphaltPro: What is the most important skill you’ve brought to your position?
Angel Griffith: The most important skill I’ve brought is passion. When I was little, my uncle worked for the same company and was killed on the job by a tractor trailer getting on the interstate, I never want anyone to know what that feels like. I vow every day to keep them safe and do everything in my power to protect everyone I come in contact with or everyone who passes through my work zone, even while we are not there.
I would encourage other women to own a certain skill. Do what you love, love what you do, take pride in your work, admire what you have accomplished and perfect your flaws. Be better than you were yesterday and shine doing it.
AsphaltPro: What is the most challenging project you’ve been a part of?
Angel Griffith: We have had several complex jobs. There is not any one in particular that stands out to me. I do what I do so they can do what they do—keep paving. Each one of us is all part of an elaborate plan and all of us independently doing our own thing yet coming together to make a smooth ride.
I guess my biggest asset is to keep things rolling: the traffic, the paver, it doesn’t matter especially in a town or busy crossroad, if traffic is jammed your trucks are delayed, the public is complaining, your crew could get stuck. Just keep it flowing. Find a way.
AsphaltPro: It’s a fact that asphalt paving can be hot and dusty. How do you respond to people who say it’s a “dirty job?”
Angel Griffith: Haha! It is a dirty job. My response is if I want a man’s paycheck, I gotta work for it. Secretly, I love it. The dirtier I am, the harder it looks like I worked. Admiration. Maybe some days I hardly work and others are non-stop!
AsphaltPro: What do you think is an incorrect perception that we, as an industry, can re-educate young people about to encourage more women to consider a career in the construction business?
Angel Griffith: “Construction is a man’s industry.” That’s a lie, just like “you need a man to make it.” You hear these things growing up so often that you believe it and you let it cripple you to the point that you don’t even try. My advice to a young lady is never settle for less than you deserve and never let anyone tell you, “you can’t!” I came in determined to make it on my own with three little boys in a man’s world and be the best me I could and I nailed it! Striving to find better, faster, safer ways to do things and vowing to never make the same mistake twice.
I never saw my life headed in this direction but, honestly, God has blessed me beyond measure placing all the right people in my path to becoming a successful traffic control supervisor, mom and wife.
AsphaltPro: What is the most rewarding aspect for you, personally, of being in the asphalt business?
Angel Griffith: The most rewarding aspect for me is the relationship I built with these men and their families. The peace of mind I get knowing that my guys are safe because I got their back and they got mine. Yes, we pave some beautiful roads and got some awards for great rides and to see the finished product is awesome but the people I was doing it with is what mattered the most.
Traffic control is the first one in the road and the last one out, rain or shine. I can’t explain it any better than that. It is the most important job because everyone’s life is in your hands. One wrong decision could take someone’s life.
AsphaltPro: Tell us about someone who served as a mentor when you first joined the Pittman Construction family.
Angel Griffith: When I started my journey as a Pittmanite, a man by the name of Warren Bailey—known as “Tater”—called me and said, “I am in the business of making people better and I believe that I can make you better.” My honest thought was, “oh, yeah, enlighten me!” (I’m a convicted felon, a recovering drug addict with nobody willing to give me a chance to better myself.) As I sat and listened to what this man had to offer, thinking “this is too good to be true,” I said a prayer and took a leap of faith.
It was the best decision I made. He became my boss and my friend teaching me everything I knew, answering every question I asked. Eventually, I was sent to school to become certified. In the beginning, I remember being so afraid to mess it up, so afraid to fail and he said something—I don’t even remember what now—but I remember feeling total peace.
Over the years, we developed a friendship both on and off the job spending time getting to know each other’s families. When my son was diagnosed with leukemia, his beautiful wife and children came and scrubbed my home from top to bottom so that I was able to bring him home to a clean environment. Money cannot buy that! Tater is one person that can freely speak into my life and, no, it’s not always what I want to hear, but everyone needs someone who is going to be honest. My life coach maybe or even my own personal cheerleader, he was the one person that was willing to give me a chance at doing life differently and I wasn’t going to waste it.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”—Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
Tater taught me a lot about the job and even showed me how to be a leader to lead with respect and grace. One thing he showed me was no matter how high up he was, he was never too high to get his hands dirty and work right alongside me. That speaks volumes.
I’ve adopted his motto of making people better and even find myself repeating things he taught me (See below, “Lessons from Tater”). Everyone is a connection and you never know who is watching!