Kerri Todd and her sister grew up answering telephones and picking up trash at their father's construction jobsites. Certainly not glamorous work, but it did leave an impression.
“It gave me an interest in the construction business,” says Todd. “My father used to give his toolbox talks in the back of his truck every morning before his crew started. I'd go along and listen to every word he said.” That familiarity with construction never left Todd, as she now works as a training coordinator and driver recruiter for TXI in Dallas.
Todd's involvement with driver training and standards didn't start with TXI. She initially worked in human resources at the Trailways and Greyhound bus companies. She soon assumed more responsibilities and started working on a task force that ensured DOT compliance and developed driver standards.
Lattimore Materials, McKinney, Texas, offered her a human resource position in 1996. “My best talent is driver recruiting,” she says. “My father was a customer of Lattimore's and encouraged me to take the job with them.”
Lattimore was growing at this time and needed more drivers. Her major responsibilities were recruiting and DOT compliance. She helped Lattimore grow from 400 to more than 1000 employees. Todd also became active with the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association (TACA) and participated in its education, public image, and safety committees. When she moved to TXI in 2001, she continued her work at TACA.
Switching from buses to construction vehicles was challenging. “I had a lot to learn. It was an eye-opening experience,” she says. “I went from carrying people to carrying a perishable load.”
Helping dad on weekends
Growing up around construction equipment, she understood the challenges of maneuvering the onsite equipment. “Even when I was grown woman, I kept going to the construction sites on the weekend with my dad to help out. Nothing was foreign. I understood the business.”
TXI was very open to a woman working in driver recruiting. After she obtained a commercial driver's license (CDL), she would be responsible for managing the program. “It was so enlightening to me,” says Todd, referring to the CDL training. “Until I went through it, I really didn't understand it.”
Todd has brought new and exciting ways to improve the concrete industry. She worked on the Texas Truck Rodeo in April, where more than 250 drivers competed. She also helped develop TACA's Concrete Pump Safety Manual. She currently is working on a program that is implementing interactive Web-based safety kiosks at remote locations.
Todd tries to be open-minded and not box herself in to a mindset or an attitude. “I choose to be happy. I want to stay in this industry,” she says. “So, I ask myself, what is the future of our business and how can I add value?
By being herself, Todd has gained respect. “You also have to have a good network of sources and a good mentor,” she says. “I didn't take a job for money. I like my job, my boss, and then everything else eventually comes along.”
She credits TXI for allowing her to develop her skills by classroom training, networking through associations, tuition reimbursement, and on-the-job training. “Picking the right employer is critical to my success,” she says.
Visit the Women in Concrete page for more columns, information on our LinkedIn group, and additional resources.