TC Legend – A Value’s Based Company – Perspective from the Feminine
Written by: Senna Scott
Something that we don’t see or hear much in the construction industry is the voice and perspective from the Feminine. I’m grateful to say that there has been so much growth, progress and change in the past 10 years, and I’m looking forward for even more women entering the industry.
We’ve posted many of our accomplishments, houses we’ve built, our team’s wins, awards, and events… but what is it like behind the scenes working at TC Legend? (From a female’s or ‘feminine’ perspective?)
I’m Senna, I’m the Office Manager & HR at TC Legend Homes. I primarily run our finances, books, taxes, payroll, marketing, safety, employee relations and IT. (We’re still a ‘small business’ so we all wear many “hats” to get the job done!)
This topic is very dear to my heart, and is an article I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now. As a young woman in the Energy Engineering & Construction Industry for the past 12 years, I’ve seen, learned and had to over come a lot in a male-dominated industry.
I was the first woman to start working for TC Legend back in 2015. I started half on-site down in Seattle, and then half of the time spent in the office in Bellingham. I was eager to learn how to build an energy efficient house. I remember vividly the day that I received my first tool belt from Dan, which I still have to this day! 😉
I was there for six months and then returned to a corporate job, but I stayed in contact with Ted over the years. When I moved back to Bellingham and the company went through a re-organization, Ted reached out to me again at the beginning of 2020 to come back. I agreed, eagerly!
I’m a very empathetic person, which means I feel the energy and people’s feelings easily. Often times I know how someone is feeling even before they do. I can sense the ‘energy’ of a person or a company’s intentions very quickly.
Why I chose to work for this company is because it is a heart-based company. Which means we really flipping CARE.
We care about our customers. We care about our employees. We care about the work we do. We care about every house we build. We care about the future of the generations to come. We care about our kids having options one day to own a safe, affordable, efficient house. We care about the industry and want to change how things have been!
From the contrast of working a corporate company, I worked amongst money-driven managers, employees, teams, and customers. I had hoped to do meaningful work, but I felt so drained, and even suffered health problems for years from over-working 40, 50, 60 sometimes even 70 hour work weeks. I never saw where my efforts and energy went.
I’ve come from a background of work environments, bosses, general managers that have belittled, made sexual implications or jokes (who have even slapped a female co-workers bottom on my shift), who have completely disregarded what I’ve said, who have taken the credit for my ideas or work. And unfortunately, I know there are also many, many, many other women who share similar and far worse stories.
So many woman have had to ‘fight’ their way to ‘prove’ themselves in this industry and workforce. Often times making massive sacrifices for their child rearing and home lives.
I am so grateful and privileged to say I am a single mom, I work from home, and I am able to balance work, family and social life with ease. Plus, I love the work I do!
Working for this company has actually healed me in many ways. I used to swear a lot, and Ted had called me out pointing out that I swore more than everyone in the company. It was a hard truth, but I looked at the reasons why, and it was because I used to swear to “keep up with the men” in my former job experiences. I made crude jokes.
This is just one example of internalized patriarchy as a woman, which is work we all must do regardless of gender, if we want to build a better future and a safe industry!
At TC Legend there is a high intolerance to unnecessary profanity. There is a high intolerance toward misogynistic behavior and sexual harassment. We even are known to turn away potential clients that exhibit these behaviors, or who deliberately cut out their wives from decisions, because we care about the safety of our employees… and they just aren’t that fun to work with anyway!
But leading a heart-based company is only accomplished by having great leaders who are solid in their shared values, and by hiring passionate, value-driven employees.
Ted is one of the most idealistic people I’ve ever met. I laugh looking back over all his soap-box speeches of the future, and what we need to improve as an industry and society. I met him at a Built Green conference in Seattle back in 2014.
I remember vividly his long grown out orange beard, wearing an orange sweatshirt with his kids’ painted hand prints. I remember thinking “I want THAT guy as a boss!”
One book Ted lives by is called Let My People Go Surfing, by Patagonia’s CEO and founder Yvon Chouinard, who shares his unique philosophy. Ted has loaned me the book before, and no, I never read it – I’m more of an audio book type *cough* millennial *cough* – but the message is clear in the title. Take care of your employees, give them a good work/life balance, and your business will thrive.
And this is very clear in how we operate. When there’s conflict, I have witnessed time and time again an honest and proactive approach to find resolve, and a solution that takes care of the employee.
Our crew has a four (4) day work week, of which hopefully America can one day mandate. We give Ski season passes as a benefit to boost morale in the winter months. We genuinely want happy and healthy employees. I like to joke that Ted could write the book Let My People Go Skiing!
Co-owner, Norm is one of the most grounded (for a water sign 😉), neutral, perspective-honoring and objective people. He’s such a great balance to Ted. Also so caring, as he has a lovely wife and two girls. One of my first memories of him was being on our weekly construction call and Jake asking him what color were his nails painted that week. They were pink! He let his girls paint his nails!
What I appreciate most about them both, is the level of respect they’ve given me over the years. They care about my counsel, my answers, and look to me as an equal. They are both examples of men that honor their own ‘feminine,’ which could look like honoring emotions, having great respect for women, apologizing when wrong, and prioritizing harmony, safety and balance for themselves and their employees.
Our not-so-spoken-about philosophy is one of balance and equality.
When we recognize the strengths of our employees, regardless of gender, we all can thrive.
When we also honor and recognize strengths we can utilize from gender, we also thrive.
When we offer equal pay, benefits, offer leveraging opportunities for women and minorities, we set a new precedent.
In the past couple years we’ve hired on two more *amazing* young women that have significantly shaped and up-leveled TC Legend Homes, and our sister design company, Powerhouse Designs.
Talia, a recent graduate from Western Washington University, with her passion for designing and building zero-energy ready homes, has learned the role of a Drafts-woman at an incredible pace. She’s gotten down our formula of net-zero energy homes and is capable of leading her own clients through the Design phase. With her love for the STEM world and all things technical, she’s even developed a whole new sector for our business! Offering Consulting services for certifying Built Green (which the requirements have been changing) AND offering Embodied Carbon Calculation services!!
(I’ll leave it to Talia to educate us more on Embodied Carbon & her calculations in future blogs!)
Nicole, another passionate graduate from Western Washington University with former years of experience coordinating/ managing in the housing industry, has taken on Project Manager and office admin support! She supports our clients with product selections, ordering materials, making sure they arrive on site, handling contracts, draws, and profitability analysis. From applying for awards, attending events, being in the ‘know’ about regulations and code changes, she has significantly improved many of our systems! The amount of work she’s taken off of Ted & Norm so they can spend more time managing on site, handling technical operations, doing more profit- generating tasks, and spending more time with their families… is invaluable! Above all else she has significantly improved our client communication, and has given our clients even more of a voice – that’s HUGE!
And lest I forget, Jake, our head Draftsman of Powerhouse Designs, who used to be a stay-at-home dad, is one of the warmest and most eccentric people, with a brilliant mind! He’s been another pillar of supporting myself over the years, and training Talia to his level, and beyond!
Our whole crew are brilliant, unique individuals (I’ll be show casing our construction crew in future blogs)! It’s truly an honor to work alongside such educated, progressive and value-based individuals! I know every day I am showing up to make a difference, even if it’s from behind-the-scenes. 😊
We are one of many companies that are raising the bar – stepping in the right direction of creating a new standard. Truthfully, one that should have always been the norm. May we honor the women that have come before us in the workforce, and the men whom stand beside, lift, and raise up others!
Together, we are creating a brighter future for generations to come!