ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – As of 2020, just 13% of construction firms are owned by women. Although women are still underrepresented in the field, this represents a 64% growth of female owners since 2014.
Heather McCandless is contributing to the growing trend of women-owned construction companies. At 26 years old, McCandless founded DACG, Inc., a commercial general contractor company.
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Twelve years later, the company has grown to be a pillar in its community, participating in monthly volunteer projects such as picking up trash at Blue Springs, raising money for AdventHealth’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and supporting toy drives.
“I feel like we do a phenomenal job of impacting our community wherever we can,” McCandless said. “As a whole, we spend our lives trying to be better people than we were yesterday, and I’m so proud.”
This philanthropic attitude didn’t happen without McCandless’ guidance and initiative. McCandless is also board member of AdventHealth for Children, She Is More Than, and 100 Plus Women Seminole County.
“I may not be Elon Musk, but I’m making an impact at the level that I am at,” McCandless said. “I think everybody has the ability to impact our community, our family, and we just have to reach in and find those gifts.”
For McCandless, those gifts include the ability of meticulous organization. McCandless oversees daily operations, finance, business development and client services.
“We jokingly say we love the chaos,” McCandless said. “We love the idea of putting organization and putting chaos in a nice box.”
Even in her personal life, McCandless loves to keep busy. After a week of attending meetings, working at various job sites and reading reports, McCandless spends her weekends managing five kids, three horses, nine chickens, two dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon.
“On a typical Saturday, after I get through the chickens and horses and dogs and cats and lizards and all my animal babies, I love to garden,” McCandless said. “Also, all my kids are doing sports, whether it’s wrestling, football, cheer, softball. Our Saturdays are always filled with that, which I love.”
Regardless of the chaos, McCandless still has plans to further her career.
“I don’t have it in me to stop at any point, that’s just who I am,” McCandless said. “I’m always looking for a change, for something bigger, for something better, more impactful.”
Although the construction industry is heavily male-dominated, McCandless feels no added pressure.
“Do I think you need to earn your place? Yes, but I think you would need to earn your place in anything that you did, regardless of if you were male, female or whatever, so to me, it’s just irrelevant,” McCandless said.
McCandless became involved in the construction business by watching her father, who owns three companies: a high-rise window company, an interior maintenance company and an exterior maintenance company.
“[I worked at my dad’s company] pretty much ever since I was a little kid,” said McCandless. “As far back as I can remember, my summers consisted of working in an office and helping with administrative tasks.”
Despite her dad’s involvement in the business, working in the construction industry was not something McCandless ever saw for herself. In fact, McCandless double majored in legal studies and business at UCF, aiming to be a corporate lawyer.
“It’s so funny how things fall into place,” McCandless said. “I couldn’t have planned this if I wanted to, I just think it’s crazy.”
At the end of the day, McCandless is a powerful woman in a male-dominated industry. She loves to make a difference in her community with the tools she has and plans to continue.
“My job is helping people, hands down, bar none,” McCandless said. “No matter what happens from the top level to the very, very, very bottom, it is my responsibility to write the path that we are going on and to make sure that we are making good choices.”