HireQuest Direct Interview: Kim Willis, Columbia Construction Co., Inc.
Kim Willis is that wonderful blend of professionalism meets casual friendliness, but the one thing that is immediately noticeable: she brings authority to the business of building. She knows construction and she knows its history in Middle Tennessee – her family business having been a part of it for decades. HireQuest Direct News first met up with Kim while she was on a break from a downtown conference meeting.
TLN: Tell us about your company and what services or products you offer.
KW: Columbia Construction Co., Inc is a general contractor located in Middle Tennessee specializing in concrete structures and streetscapes, building renovations, plant maintenance, and mechanical process piping. Established in 1961, we are a third-generation owned company that provides high-value construction services in a timely manner, where service is what really impresses our clients. For over five decades, we have worked on all types of projects always using our own forces.
TLN: And what is your role, Kim?
KW: I own the family business and serve as President. My father and grandfather started the company in 1961. I came to work after serving as a project engineer at Monsanto Chemical Company for 10 years after graduating from Vanderbilt University with a Civil Engineering degree. My father retired in 1991, and my husband and I bought the company. I’ve been working in the construction business for 34 years!
TLN: Very impressive. You might be the most experienced that we’ve interviewed to date. Are there any notable projects or clients to tell us about?
KW: We’ve always worked in the chemical process plants doing new projects or renovations. We’ve built small water treatment plants and pumping stations. One plant shut down and we ended up building the bird-watching structures in the wildlife habitat that replaced it. We did a TDOT project (pictured) that included new sidewalks and fountains in my hometown of Columbia, TN. We’ve done several more streetscape projects throughout Middle Tennessee. We also renovated the Halbrook Hotel in Dickson, TN and are always busy with renovation projects for both public and private clients.
TLN: And what do you think sets your company apart from your competitors’?
KW: That we’ve been in business 51 years! We’re also woman-owned (WBE), a certified small disadvantaged business (SDBE), and our office is in a HUB Zone. That means our customers benefit from having an experienced company to help them meet their federal participation goals.
TLN: What’s the vision? Where do you see you/the company in 5 years?
KW: I spend a lot of time marketing my business. I’d like to see us grow to include Federal Government work. We can never be busy enough!
KW: Yes, it’s often a challenge. Once I was on a job site in the office trailer and I answered the phone. The man said, “I didn’t know you had a secretary there too.”
I said, “We don’t, I’m the boss.” Humor aside, I have the education, background, and 35 years of experience – even working in the field, (she smiles), I have been in there finishing concrete! And there’s something else we do – all the government paperwork (and these days, I think that takes some smarts!) (We laugh). We also manage our own projects.
TLN: We are consistently impressed by our interview subjects. You’re definitely one, Kim – thank you.
For more information: Visit Columbia Construction on the web
Kim Willis, President
Columbia Construction Co., Inc.