As Kimberly Spain, assistant superintendent at the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Haskell Co., makes the rounds on the project site for a new $200-million, high-tech cancer facility being built at the University of Maryland BioPark in West Baltimore, she makes frequent stops.
With equal zeal, she explains the complex work being done on-site and some of the finer points of the state-of-the-art radiation cancer treatment technology for the 122,000-sq-ft facility. On the jobsite, she gently but firmly tells a worker to don protective headgear. He grins and nods yes. A few minutes later, she’s dealing with a ventilation problem that has cropped up. “Excuse me,” she says, then steps away to discuss the issue and make a phone call. Problem solved, she resumes her tour of the site.
“This is a large part of what I do,” she laughs. “We supervise the subcontractors to make sure they’re performing safely.”
Spain is a veteran of the construction industry, having worked for merit and union shops since the early 1980s. “As long as I can remember, I have loved building things,” she says. “I love working with my hands, and I love the smell of fresh-cut lumber.”
She learned basic carpentry skills in her teens by helping her father and an uncle on various odd jobs and home-repair projects during summers in Florida, where she grew up. She later served as a laborer for residential homebuilders in Jacksonville and Tampa, working her way up from carpenter to supervisor. During a stint in the Army, she learned surveying.
She joined Haskell in 1990 as a field engineer. Although based near Jacksonville, she and her husband, Terry, a superintendent with Haskell, have been able to temporarily relocate with their family for other projects. “Haskell has really tried to keep us together when we’re on the road,” she says.
Part of Spain’s job is to coordinate schedules among subcontractors. Tom Gaver, field superintendent with Daniel G. Schuster, praises her ability to keep a project running smoothly. “Kimberly is very intelligent, very organized, and she’s a stickler for details,” he says.
Mentored herself, Spain is now lending her experience to industry newcomers. Georgia Pickens, an administrative field clerk for Haskell, calls Spain “a real role model and mentor.” Pickens, pursuing a degree in construction supervision, says she felt like a “fish out of water” when she first came to work at Haskell. “Kimberly took me under her wing and invited me on one of many tours of our jobsite,” she says. “What fascinates me is Kimberly’s work ethic and enthusiasm for every project she works on.”
Spain considers herself a lifelong learner. “To this day, I read and study all the time to keep up with changing technologies and try to expand my construction knowledge,” she says. Raising her index finger, she smiles and says, “If anyone tells you they know everything there is to know about construction, they are lying.”