Cailey Reiman-Garrett of Cheyenne, Wyo., grew up around construction. But the granddaughter of the Bob Reiman, who founded Reiman Corp. in 1948, never actually thought she’d be working for her grandfather’s commercial and heavy highway construction company. Cailey had aspirations to be an architect or an engineer until a discussion with her father Wally, now Executive Vice President and Project Manager for Reiman Corp., changed her mind.
What was the conversation you had with your dad?
One day I told him, ‘I don’t know if construction is right for me. I think I want to go into architecture or engineering.’ He asked me, ‘What do you want to do? Describe what you want your day-to-day life to be like.’ I said, ‘I want to be involved in projects from start to finish. I want to build those relationships with people and have the pride of knowing I built that and seeing the final product.’ As I talked to him, he said, ‘By all means, if you feel like you need to go into a different facet of the industry, please do. But what you’re describing sounds a lot like construction management.’
How did you become a Project Engineer, and what does that mean?
I went to school at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in their Construction Management department, and I stayed for five years and got a minor in Integrated Project Delivery, which is essentially design-build and anything other than the standard design-bid-build project delivery methods. It’s interesting because it’s not only the hands-on of construction, but it’s also the management, the relationships, and some of the technology. I really do enjoy it. It’s a great industry with a lot of great people. There are a lot of different facets to the construction industry.
Usually I spend a lot of time both in the office and the field assisting my project team. I have anywhere from six to eight projects going on at once with a pretty good group of superintendents working side by side in the field. I handle all of the day to day paperwork, and also try to stay ahead of my superintendents so the guys in the field can do their job safely and efficiently.
What do you love about your job?
I love the challenges, I love the problem solving. It’s not always the same problem over and over again. Every project will have a specific thing come up that is different and unexpected. Sometimes it’s technical, it has to do with the system in the building or the technical aspect of how you're going to construct the building or bridge or infrastructure. Some days it’s about the client and understanding the personalities you're working with and getting the team to come together to produce what they need. You always have to be on your toes and thinking outside the box.
What is your life like when you’re not working?
My husband and I got married three years ago. He was raised in a ranching family, and it’s something I’m just getting exposed to. But it’s a great lifestyle and a great group of people. They’re hardworking people who really know how to do things. It’s a can-do lifestyle, and it’s been fun integrating the two. It’s a lot of work and a lot of chores, but similar to construction, you have something really amazing to show for it at the end of the day. You have livestock, you have the care of those animals, and it’s all on you at the end of the day. In construction, we have our crews and their lives and a great product, but at the end of the day it’s about everyone going home safe to their families.
What project are you currently working on?
We’re currently building the third Tru Hotel by Hilton. This is the third project to break ground in America. It’s a new and different project for Hilton, attracting millennials to their brand. It’s a brand new prototype, so we have a lot of things we’re working out with Hilton and with our design team. We’re trying to get things right so that the rest of the projects to come around the country have a good example to follow.
It’s been interesting, because it’s such a new concept for Hilton, that we get the opportunity to do a project like this in what most people consider the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. It’s brought a lot of really great attention to our community and a lot of pride for our team to be involved in such a new and different project.
What do you think of the general public’s ideas about construction?
Construction is still a dirty business where you’re in the mud and the elements and sometimes in some harsh conditions. But it’s also very multifaceted. There are a lot of very professional people involved. There are a lot of really high-skilled tradesmen, and you get to shake hands with a lot of different people throughout the day. In the morning you can be out here with the guys in the field getting into the technicals of actually building the project, and five minutes later you can be with the architect talking about design elements and color schemes. It’s not just about the dirt and the grime, but it is something we enjoy. We enjoy getting our hands dirty to build something beautiful for the end user. There is a lot of value in what we’re doing and what we’re producing for people.
What advice would you give a young man—or woman—who is considering starting a new career?
I think people need to be open to looking at the industry. Construction is a great industry that has provided a lot of people with wonderful opportunities to build our communities and our environment. It’s not what I would’ve expected, especially for women looking to come into the industry. There are a lot of really important roles that women tend to fill very nicely. We’re very detail-oriented. We problem solve and multitask really well. I think it’s not a traditional industry for women to look at, but I know that we play very important roles when we are on project teams. Women add a different dimension that has been really valuable to a lot of different teams that I’ve been on.