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By Megan Headley
January 9, 2018
Kim Roy—who, with her promotion to CEO on December 13, 2017, has become the first non-family member to lead HITT Contracting in its 80-year history as well as the only woman currently in this role for an ENR Top 100 Contractor—describes her place within the company as a “change agent.” It’s an early hint at where Roy hopes to lead the company.
“R&D is a personal passion,” Roy says. As she describes it, the company has spent the past 15 years putting tools and processes in place to position itself as a leader. Now, it is aiming to lead the wave of construction companies exploring innovative solutions to productivity and efficiency challenges.
“Our collaboration with Procore was very meaningful to our growth,” Roy says. The company is exploring technology ranging from robotics to 3D-printing, as well as modular and prefabrication-based strategies. Soon, that exploration will have a stronger focus in a dedicated R&D lab.
“In the next couple of months, HITT will actually break ground on a lab which is going to be the hub of our thought leadership,” Roy shares.
But Roy is quick to emphasize the company is focused on “smart growth.”. While, in the early days of the leadership change, the company’s focus is on ensuring a smooth transition by spending time with team members and clients, Roy has plans in the works on how to strategically grow its national presence.
She is joined in this transition with co-presidents Jeremy Bardin and Drew Mucci. Third-generation owners Jim Millar and Brett Hitt have become co-chairs of the newly formed Board, and Russell Hitt is named Chairman Emeritus.
Jim and Brett Hitt, whose grandparents founded the Falls Church, Virginia-based company, commented in a statement on the change, “This succession strategy has been our vision for years. Drew, Jeremy, and Kim have strong records of success at HITT and were intentionally developed as the next generation of leaders.”
Roy notes that this succession has been three years in the works. The owners intented on making these internal promotions when the company was healthy in order to position it well for future success.
Roy comes into this new role with 18 years of experience at HITT, having previously served as executive vice president. She got her start in the company as an assistant project manager.
“I loved being out in the field,” Roy shares. “I think about five years ago I changed—I was exposed to a lot of our corporate resources, and my mantra became ‘be a student of the business.’ I wanted to understand holistically how the company ran, and I wanted to understand how our owners were successful in leading that for so long. I became vocal that I wanted to keep going, and they said ‘keep going.’ They were very encouraging.”
Bardin will give executive oversight of the company’s Technology sector and drive national growth in current and new geographies. Mucci, on the other hand, will provide increased leadership for eight market sectors and two regional offices, and work to improve and expand HITT’s operations, preconstruction, and project solutions. Roy is responsible for all corporate operations, defining key initiatives, identifying emerging markets, and executing the Board’s strategic vision.
While Roy downplays the fact that a woman has taken the helm of one of the nation’s largest general contractors—noting it’s her “qualifications as a leader, not a woman, that are going to impact the company positively”—she does admit that the visibility of her role could encourage other women to consider construction as a career choice.
“I hope my visibility as a female leader inspires women,” Roy says. “Maybe young women considering a career in construction will see a lot of visibility around this and [consequently] set their sights high. That thrills me. Also, the women who are in their AEC careers hopefully see my success as evidence of a strong future for female leaders particularly at HITT but also in the industry. That’s my hope.”
Those inspired job applicants may indeed prove important for a CEO who sees filling vacancies as one of her leading challenges.
“We have a lot of vacancies. I want to make sure we’re taking advantage of being out in the marketplace and attracting top talent to the company as well as ensuring development for our [current] team members,” Roy says. She adds, “I think we’ve got to solve this issue of labor. And, to that end, find productive ways to be more efficient because we don’t have the labor.”
But Roy sees labor as a short-term problem, one that a construction company that has clearly demonstrated a pathway for growth can ultimately solve. Her sights are set on innovation meant to move the industry forward. As Roy puts it, “The industry is ripe for that and we’ve got the right foundation in place.”
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