Meet a Woman of Asphalt: Tri-State Emulsions’ Jodi Loud
BY Sandy Lender
Back in the late 1990s, Jodi Loud had the opportunity to work at CMA, her brother’s construction company, in a variety of roles. She has carried the experience into her new role as president of Tri-State Emulsions Corp., headquartered in Sandgate, Vermont, which is registered as a DBE/WBE doing business in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Her company performs mostly municipality and city/state work, serving as a subcontractor.
She shared that the experience working in the scheduling, bidding, administrative portion of CMA afforded her “a comfort level to jump into the business” and helped her build a mental outline for her own business. “Since I started, I have taken that base to develop a flow and move forward with the learning curve of the nuances of each state, state specific reporting, and of course, connecting to new customers,” Loud shared.
She offered how that office environment could be a benefit for women entering the industry today. “For me, I didn’t know every piece of the industry, but I am well organized and have been successful in the past with running businesses in different industries. If you know the general product and industry, it might be worth the try.”
Loud took some time to share her story to encourage other women of asphalt.
AsphaltPro: Could you share with readers your career trajectory since high school and what challenges you’ve overcome along the way? Could you share how a nursing degree factored in?
Jodi Loud: I grew up in a low-income part of town and my family struggled financially. When I was younger, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to be able to support myself and my family.
As for why nursing, when I was in high school, I helped a friend with a splinter, and she told me I should be a nurse. That’s the whole story. I knew I would always have a job and be able to support myself. I put myself through college and got a bachelor’s degree in Nursing by working 40 hours a week (Friday to Sunday) to pay my college bill, attending school full time and graduating in 4 years cum laude. I then passed my boards and got two jobs, one working full time and one part time, so I could afford to live and pay my school loans. I have always been trying out different “side gigs.” I helped my brother with his business, I attempted to start an indoor soccer complex/event venue (this is where I learned about DBE/WBE’s), and I have done consulting work. During all this, I had two young children and was a single mom.
When this opportunity came up, I felt like it was a chance to truly own my own business, work in one place only and provide a legacy for my kids to take over when I retire. I have a son who is in engineering school and a daughter who is going to school for recreational/occupational therapy. Both of them will have the opportunity to work with me full-time, while they create and grow their dream community outreach programs.
My son hopes to mentor young kids in engineering in geographical areas where there is little education and opportunity, and my daughter wants to create recreational opportunities for those with disabilities.
I have been working on my CDL for the last 10 months. I originally tried to get it when I bought the business, but COVID hit and all classes were cancelled. In August of 2021, I took my permit test then participated in the classes through my union in New York. Unfortunately, as they were in New York and my driver’s license is from Massachusetts, (and my business is in Vermont) I had to then take private lessons with a Massachusetts school and am pending testing for my license this spring.
AsphaltPro: Starting a business as COVID was interrupting workflows would be a challenge. What other big challenge did you experience as you dove into the industry in 2019? And how did you address it?
Jodi Loud: I couldn’t meet any new potential customers, it was hard to get my foot in the door and get business, so it was a super slow start. I also applied for my DBE and WBE in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. That was a challenge as remote “onsite visits” were a new idea and my business was part of that learning curve, so obtaining those certifications took longer. However, when I did get to the interview point with most of the states, once I was able to answer their questions surrounding the “how and why I run a business in construction” and show them all that I know and do, they became very supportive and excited.
Once business offices opened back up, I have been out to meet the crews on the jobs and meet with multiple contractors for meet and greets to get to know them.
AsphaltPro: How many employees did you start out with when opening for business?
Jodi Loud: I started with just myself and one part-time driver. This year I have 2 full-time drivers, myself and an office assistant, and am looking for 1-2 more drivers.
AsphaltPro: Could you share some of your daily responsibilities and tell readers which of those are the most rewarding/most enjoyable for you?
Jodi Loud: Every day I am working on marketing and sales, general office work, bidding, invoicing, payroll, financials, contract review, accounting, and truck oversight.
It’s all rewarding because it is my business. I am really enjoying meeting all these new prospective customers. I am learning every day whether it be different contracts and needs, or just the problem-solving as a business owner, and I love having my own employees and my employer/employee relationships.
AsphaltPro: What do you think is the most important skill you’ve brought to your position in the pavement preservation sector? (And how would you encourage other women entering the industry to hone a similar skill?)
Jodi Loud: I have a lot of interpersonal, business and organizational skills, which are huge in running a business. On a funny note, I also have found my knowledge in the human body has helped me with the learning curve with the trucks. If you think about it, trucks and the human body all have separate working systems for air, hydraulics, fuel, and general mechanics. It has made it easy to learn the systems and workings of the trucks and to problem-solve issues.
AsphaltPro: You mentioned going out to meet face-to-face with contractors during 2021. Would you like to comment on the level of ease or difficulty you’ve had bringing your crew/company to the marketplace, as a female leader? And what tip(s) would you offer a female colleague for introducing a subcontracting company to a marketplace?
Jodi Loud: I spent time on the internet to find company contacts and sent an introduction email and followed up with calls. I also reached out directly to the estimators. As a general principle, I approach everyone with respect and appreciation and treat all people like people regardless of who they are or what they do, and thus far, have been treated back the same way.
AsphaltPro: Could you tell us about some changes you’ve seen take place in the asphalt “culture” since the time you worked in your brother’s company?
Jodi Loud: Overall, in the asphalt world, like most of construction, more women and minorities are entering the field every day. My experience has been that the culture has been welcoming and it really just comes down to how well you perform. If you perform well, you are treated accordingly.
AsphaltPro: Let’s talk about perceptions. It’s a fact that asphalt pavement maintenance and preservation can be hot and dusty. How do you respond to people who say it’s a “dirty job?”
Jodi Loud: It is a dirty job. I now have my tack clothes and my good clothes. All you have to do is rub against the arms accidentally and you have been tacked. So, if you want to stay clean, you might want to find a different venture.
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 asphalt industry? What is something you would tell a young lady to encourage her in this industry?
Jodi Loud: I have my own “young lady” who I am having that conversation with, so I will tell you what I tell her. Just come over and give it a try. There is a real opportunity here for women and I have found that most everyone has welcomed me in and are excited to have more women around, to include the other women in the industry.
AsphaltPro: What is the most challenging aspect for you of being in the asphalt business?
Jodi Loud: It is the learning curve. I love learning new things but at the same time, I hate not being an expert in my field. I am still learning new products, new laws, new approaches, new vendors, new contractors, new states, etc.
AsphaltPro: What is the most rewarding aspect for you of being in the asphalt business?
Jodi Loud: In this business, if you put in the work and time, you get the reward. It is not like that in every industry.
AsphaltPro: Will you tell us about a person who served as a mentor for you? What is a piece of advice from this person that you would share with other women in the industry?
Jodi Loud: I can’t say I really have a mentor in asphalt. So as far as learning asphalt, I spend a lot of time educating myself on the internet (you know people build whole houses with no experience via YouTube), with literature, with my supplier, with my brother, I have a service BizPlanEZ for certification focused needs, and at times will consult the contractors.
But a mentor to take the leap…my daughter has taught me that life is short and that I need to live every day like it’s my first and last. So, if we are talking about encouraging women to take the leap, listen to the words of my daughter, who is just 22, but suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and was diagnosed at 16. I don’t know that I would be able to approach life the way she has with her challenges, and she inspires me every day.