Team Lantz includes nearly a dozen women who “get the work, do the work, and keep the score,” and among them is Craftsperson Denise Ranck, who joined the team in November 2019. We wanted to know what led her to a career in construction, what she finds most rewarding, and what challenges she faces as a woman in this historically male-dominated career field.
The conception of a career in construction originated with Denise’s realization that she was unhappy as a desk-bound office worker for “corporate America.” She decided to seek out a more enjoyable line of work and after some reflection, her new career path revealed itself.
Denise knew that what she enjoyed most was working with her hands and building things. At age eight, she was crawling around on rooftops nailing down shingles with her father and brothers and she had observed and participated in many such projects during her childhood. As an adult, she learned a lot from her husband, particularly when they worked together on various projects while their home was under construction.
Her first step toward a career in construction began as a certified flagger for an Ohio-based excavation company. During a job at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Denise noticed that the excavating crew, but not the flaggers, worked overtime on the weekends. Her request to work weekends as a laborer was approved and soon her flagging days were over. Before long, she was also learning to operate heavy equipment. After the JMU job, the crew traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas where they did the dirt work for a 1.25m sq. ft. pad and the underground utilities for a new Walmart Supercenter. Denise operated a smooth drum compactor and a front loader for the pipe crew on that job.
After relocating to her hometown in New York, Denise accepted a seasonal job at Watkins Glen International Speedway (NASCAR) as their heavy equipment operator for the maintenance department. “I operated a wide variety of equipment there as well as physical labor. After the racing season ended, I moved back to Virginia and got hired with this awesome company named Lantz Construction.”
Lantz Safety Director Dennis Edwards regularly observes the crews at work and when asked about Denise, he replied, “Denise has adapted well to the stresses of the job; she’s very safety conscious and strives to do the job right.”
Denise says that one of her biggest challenges has been that “people haven’t always known how best to utilize me.” Although she was sometimes ineffectively or underutilized on a project, Denise admits that this was also a personal learning curve, as it took time to recognize, and then fine-tune, her own unique skillset and strengths.
A major turning point for Denise was her assignment to the Merck Training Facility project in August 2020 under the direction of Specialty & Industrial Projects Coordinator Pete Harman and Superintendent Randy Doolan. She explains, “Pete and Randy gave me an opportunity to apply my abilities, skills, and experience on a project from start to finish. Being new to industrial construction, I wasn’t always sure how to navigate it, but working on all stages of a project gave me a better perspective on how to utilize my abilities better and I look forward to future projects.”
Denise praises her supportive coworkers when she says, “I continue to witness professionalism and respect as a whole and that has made working for Lantz Construction most enjoyable.” When she and her coworkers combine their individual attributes and skills and tackle a project as a team, Denise says the sense of accomplishment is overwhelmingly rewarding and fulfilling.
A number of hobbies and interests allow Denise to decompress after a long day at work and on the weekends, including reading, gardening, listening to music, exploring nature, practicing Energy Healing and Vibrational Sound Therapy, and making gemstone jewelry and crafts using recycled materials. She especially cherishes time spent with family, which includes three grandchildren.
As journalist and author Katharine Whitehorn (1928-2021) once said, “Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it.” Denise Ranck did just that, which benefitted not only herself, but also Lantz Construction!
Pictured: Denise Ranck at a Lantz Construction jobsite in Harrisonburg, VA in 2020