Rochelle "Missy" Johnson, has been welding since the age of 14, and was the first female minority to enroll at her vocational school graduating at the top of her class.
Back in March of 2021, she ran a small local firm and was signed only as a Millwrights Union company. Through discussions with PJ Dick, she was encouraged to talk to other unions and to utilize the log of the non-minority companies that was developed through bidding for the FNB Financial Center, for her own outreach and development of relationships
Throughout the balance of 2021, Missy signed on with six (6) other unions and joined the NMAPC, which allows her to work anywhere in the country, pulling in union workers in the trades she needs. She has been afforded opportunities locally and in Philadelphia and has even turned down some work (in cases that builders or larger contractors wanted to just use her company as a Broker and not let her firm self perform work).
DiVerse Industrial Solutions has secured a contract commitment in the field of Miscellaneous Metals as part of the final buyout for FNB Financial Center and her story is truly amazing. This brief glimpse into her past highlights her path to where she is now, 36 years later.
How does your background in construction tie into what you're currently doing with the project?
During my 25 years in Mobile Maintenance, I had the ability to work in many different fashions from boiler work to structural steel and many things in between. I can remember building platforms, setting grading, doing handrail and kickplate. All of these things now tie into the package that my company has received at the Lower Hill.
How has your role evolved working on the Lower Hill Redevelopment project?
There are 2 development projects for me at the Lower Hill. The first project is developing DiVerse Industrial Solutions as a competitive company for the future. The second project is to obtain work at the FNB. I found them both at the Lower Hill. In working with the people on that project, it opened up avenues and suggestions to be able to do both. They not only gave me an opportunity for work, they gave me pathways to build my company outside of this project for the future.
What do you like most about what you do?
The people. All the people come from different walks of life to participate in the end goal of finishing whatever project they are encountering. They bring their highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses. You find encouragement from them and give back encouragement. When it is all finished, you and a bunch of strangers are no longer strangers having achieved a common goal of a job well done.
Do you have a mentor or advisor that has helped you along the way? (Personally, or professionally) Alternatively, do you do any kind of mentoring, coaching or teaching? I have had many mentors along the way both personally and professionally. One that stands out specifically, was a man of little words but his actions spoke volumes to me. He was always proud of who he was in every job he laid his hands on. He did not care if he fit in. He only cared about the pride he carried home at the end of the day by doing the best that he could with what he had. I try to use what I learned in life to mentor and guide people. Life is hard. If it wasn’t for the people who helped me, I would not have the will or determination to do what I do today. I give back in the same way it was given to me. Somebody gave me a job; I want to give a job. Someone gave me encouragement; I want to give encouragement.
Do you have any words of encouragement for other women currently in or considering entering the construction field? Welding field? Whatever you do, don’t quit. Fight until you get it right. Every step you take in life, God is preparing you for another level.
Find out more about DiVerse Industrial Solutions here
To learn about contracting opportunities with the Lower Hill Redevelopment visit the First Source Center