Can you tell us about how you began at Brindley Construction?
I had just graduated from high school. I had been the Valedictorian and had earned a scholarship to college. I met my first husband in January of that year and I fell in love and got married instead of going to college. I was on my honeymoon when I discovered Mr. Brindley was looking for his first hire in the office. Mr. Brindley had an accountant and he asked him for recommendations. My aunt worked for the accountant and recommended me to the accountant, who then recommended me to Mr. Brindley. I came in for an interview while I was on my honeymoon. I was as nervous as ever! Mr. Brindley asked me if I knew how to post job costs and I told him I didn’t know but I could certainly learn. I fell in love with the job and the company as soon as I got involved.
You held several positions at Brindley. What were your favorite roles?
I was the receptionist for the first seven years, beginning in 1969. Then I became the assistant to the property manager. I handled mostly accounting work then, along with some secretarial work for Mr. Brindley. About a month after, Mr. Brindley provided me an office next to his and I became his assistant. For three years, I was an executive assistant, but I wanted to advance in the company. Mr. Brindley told me that I needed to step up and learn to become a project manager. That wasn’t typically a role for women back then, but I wanted to learn.
I worked as a project manager for about 10 years and was vice president of the multi-family construction division for about five years. I briefly left the company for about a year but returned and took a role in the estimating department. In 2010, I was named executive vice president and marketing director. My role was to help secure clients, take care of the proposals, work with the estimator, oversee the pre-construction services all the way to the beginning of construction, or what we call the hand-off.
Did you face any challenges working in a male-dominated industry back in the 60s and the 70s?
I really didn’t encounter challenges or resentment like you would think. I was my natural self. I didn’t play the “power card” or the “I am a lady card.” I simply did my job as well as I could. And, when I didn’t know something, I went and found out about it. I built trust and relationships over the course of my 50 years at Brindley. You have to be easy going. That’s my secret, I guess.
What was the most memorable project you worked on?
That’s been hard for me. I have thought of so many. I think the project I am most proud of is the First National Bank of Pulaski renovation. It was a great team effort and a very difficult job. Our client was very happy, and I felt like I was an important part of the project team. It’s a beautiful building.
What was the most challenging project you worked on?
The Cock of the Walk Restaurant in Nashville. At that time, it was the largest restaurant in Nashville. I had to have a map just to find to the jobsite. It was a wood construction project. We took the project probably too cheap than we should have. We had difficulty with some subcontractors, including one that went rogue. There were 35 men on the project, and I was the only woman. There were 42 change orders, and no architect. You can imagine how difficult that was.
What were the best “lessons learned” you experienced in your 50+ years at Brindley?
One of the best lessons I learned is that people appreciate honesty. If you treat people fairly you will be a success. I love people and that’s just what I do.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
Well, you need a good education, a good work ethic and a commitment to be the best you can be. Leave no stone unturned. Cover all the bases and work hard. Do not assume anything.
What will you miss the most about working at Brindley Construction?
The people. They are like my extended family—the employees and the clients. That’s what I miss. They are friends. There is good in everyone, by and large, and it’s the people I miss most.
What are your plans for retirement?
Bottom-line. I am going to learn about Kathy and what she enjoys. I plan to get involved with some volunteering and work with children. I want to get closer to my religion and my friends. I want to become a great baker and bake great cakes. I am also going to enjoy the river. I am a very blessed woman, and I am just looking forward to enjoying the next 50 years. I want to stay in touch and do things with the people I care about.
I am just so grateful for the opportunity I have been given by the Brindley family. To be able to go to work for a construction company without any education and to enjoy the success I have had with my clients in this business. I really feel that way. I appreciate all the people who have taught me and shown me the ropes.
Pulaski Mayor Pat Ford presents Kathy Pigg with the “Kathy Pigg Day” Proclamation at her retirement celebration on September 17, 2020.