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WIC Week - WBE Spotlight: Kim McBride

All week we are celebrating WIC Week (Women In Construction) and will be spotlighting some of our WBE (Women Owned Businesses) Members. Today we chatted with Kim McBride, Owner of Balanced Electric, Inc. and asked her a few questions to share with everyone. Enjoy!

What got you started or interested in construction?

I enrolled in a program at Portland Community College that was designed to introduce women to the trades. It was called Building Futures in Industry and Trades (B-FIT). It was great because I am a very hands-on learner, and this program was geared towards just that. We got a small sampling of the different trades, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical. We were able to build something and get real experience working with our hands and with the tools. We also worked on resume building and how to find out about the different apprenticeship programs available and how and when to apply. After completing that program, I decided that the electrical field would be a good fit for me. It was both mentally and physically challenging and something I could see myself doing for a career. The timing was great because the construction industry was just starting to boom, and many apprenticeship programs were starting to open up again.

What types of positions/roles have you had? For how long?

I spent about half of my apprenticeship at Intel in the Portland area. This was a huge multiyear, multi-phase project with hundreds of trades people on the job. The other half was working with controls and then in residential service. I found I like the smaller commercial and residential side of the electrical field. Since moving to Eugene, I worked for a couple small electrical contractors before starting my own business with my partner in 2013.

What is an accomplishment you are proud of?

I’m proud of getting my Electrical Supervisors License and taking that step to start Balanced Electric. I wasn’t sure about the business side of things, and it was a big leap of faith that work would continue and we would succeed. Now at 9 years in business, I’m proud of our work, our reputation, our relationships, our team, and our successful business.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job/role?

  • I love the challenges of troubleshooting and figuring out how to make something work.

  • I love the diversity of my work. Every day is different, every job is a little different. It’s like solving a puzzle every day.

  • I love being outside most days.

  • I love listening to people and trying to figure out what they want and how to accomplish that for them.

  • I love being part of a solution to make homes and processes more energy efficient.

  • I love being a lifelong learner of this trade, I learn something every day.

  • I love that moment of turning on the switch and seeing it work.

  • I love the relationships that we make with our customers and our community.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

After getting my Journeyman’s license, I took a break from the electrical field and worked in retail for a few years. This gave me the opportunity to go back to school and get an associate degree in Energy Management with an emphasis on renewable energy.

What would you like to see for the future of women in construction?

I would like to see more representation of women everywhere in the trades. We often get comments about how cool it is to see women doing what we do. My hope is that someday that will not be such an anomaly and it’s just normal to see women in construction. I think women bring a unique skill set to the trades. I’d like to see girls exposed and encouraged to working in the trades at a much younger age.

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