VP and General Manager
Houston Division, Alamo Concrete
In 1993, Bryan Pennington was looking for a job to help pay for his college tuition. He not only found a job, he found a career. When he responded to an ad in the newspaper for Alamo Concrete, Pennington was initially hired to drive a mixer truck, then was promoted, and promoted again. He continued to advance within the company. Within six years, Pennington became the Division Manager in Austin.
Today, Pennington serves as the Vice President and General Manager of Alamo Concrete’s Houston Division where he oversees more than 200 employees. Twenty-two years later, he is still saving money for college tuition, only this time, it’s for his daughter’s education.
CEMEX, Houston Ready Mix
How did a girl from a small Texas town wind up living in Houston and working for a multi-national corporation like CEMEX? Lindsay Sparks would tell you, “Lots of hard work.” However, Sparks is also quick to point out how an incredible opportunity helped jumpstart her career nine years ago when she decided to give the construction industry a try.
After graduating from Texas A&M with both a bachelors and masters degree in Agribusiness, Sparks spent two years in the food industry where she gained considerable experience supervising large staffs, meeting budgets and managing large client accounts.
One day a business associate called with an interesting proposal. “He told me about the Professional in Development Program at CEMEX, a year-long training program that would allow me to work in virtually every business unit within the company. He said I would get to work in many different roles, and if I put my heart and soul into it, I could pretty well choose my path.”
Sparks jumped at the chance. Her first assignment involved a market analysis for the Ready Mix Commercial Group.
“We analyzed every contractor in the Houston market. It gave me a taste of the sales process and understanding of how contractors purchased materials in Houston. That first role at CEMEX set me up to succeed in later positions within the company. It gave me a tremendous foundation for understanding the ready mix market. It was a perfect introduction.”
Sparks spent eight months as a business analyst before a territory manager position opened up in Ready Mix sales. It was here that Sparks began to feel she may have found a home.
“You don’t spend many days in the office as a territory manager. Most of my days were spent on job sites, at a plant, or in customers’ offices. Over the four years in this role, I developed many solid relationships with customers, while experiencing both the highs and the lows of the market during this time. That taught me how to manage sales under widely ranging conditions.”
Her outstanding track record made her a prime candidate when an opportunity to fill a recently vacant sales manager position opened up. In 2012, Sparks stepped into her current position as Sales Manager of the Houston Ready Mix Division. She leads a team of eleven professionals, and is responsible for maintaining excellent relationships with hundreds of customers.
Sparks still finds plenty of reasons to get out of the office and go where the projects take her. She seems to revel in her non-traditional job.
“This job is perfect for me, because I can go from a job site early in the morning to a high profile customer meeting all in a day’s time. The variety, and my ability to stay in contact with both worlds, is great. I love that. It fits my personality.
My A&M friends think it’s hilarious that I work in construction. Many work in offices and drive fancy SUV’s—and then there’s me. I drive an F150 with a toolbox and a hardhat in the back. But I still valet my truck!”
Sparks and her husband, who is also in the construction industry, started a family four years ago. She credits the company culture with helping her make the adjustment to balancing work life with family life.
“It’s really important for women to know that it’s possible in this company and industry to have a family and a career. I feel like our culture allows me to speak to anyone at any level in the organization. I work with the best people and management team. They give me the freedom to make decisions and allow me to learn from my mistakes. We’re like a family.”
Tex-Mix Concrete, Austin, Texas
As an engineering student at Texas State University, Ian McNamara was bored with his classes and sought coursework that excited and inspired him.
When a friend told him about the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program at Texas State, the classes sounded exciting to McNamara and the future job potential was exponential. McNamara changed his major and the rest is history.
The Texas State University CIM program produces broadly educated, articulate graduates grounded in construction management, providing students the opportunity to enter a field that has an urgent need for professionals with the skills to meet the growing demands of a progressive, changing concrete industry. For more information on the CIM program, visit http://www.concretedegree.com/
McNamara now works for Tex-Mix Concrete, a family owned and operated company that supplies materials for residential, commercial and TxDOT projects. In his quality control role, McNamara is directly responsible for the quality of products Tex-Mix makes.