Stepping Stones to Success, Tari Ensign's Story
Feel the fear and let FAITH be bigger than the fear! This is a motto that Tari Ensign, president of Ensign Shaffer, understands and harnesses. Spending the summers with her grandparents, Tari used to explore the country side of Montana and notice all the diverse sizes of houses and the way people lived, finding all the differences fascinating as a child. In sixth grade, she was introduced to 'drawing in perspective', winning an award for her work, this is when she began to think about architecture. In 8th grade, Tari took shop, metal shop, and drafting, winning another award. She was the only girl in class, and thanks to her mom, she never thought that was weird. She was always told “Just do it… if that is what makes you happy.” During her high school years she participated in classes such as engineering and architecture. She even recalls taking a career assessment test which said she should be a general contractor. It wasn’t until she was a Site Supervisor for a builder in Colorado that she realized the niche of construction was what truly excited her. She fell in love with it and knew it was meant for her!
Working in a male-dominated industry, Tari expresses, “At some point I thought that I should wear more rugged clothing but I have not found that needs to be the case. If you are strong enough, you can be exactly who you want to be and you don’t have to put on a rough exterior persona. Just be who you are… We all want to be thought of as smart and as qualified. If you walk into a scenario, whether it is a group of women or a bunch of men, [and you feel you] have to put on a face that is different than who we are that is something that [you] have to work through, I think that [takes] experience.”
“Women can excel at any portion of this industry, literally any portion of this industry, but not every woman can excel at every portion of this industry.” Tori explains, not all women have the strength to pick up a wall and move it to the other side of the room but then again, neither do all men. “It’s not about what areas women should excel in [within construction], it’s [about] what areas a woman wants to excel in. If she wants to work out in the dirt and the sunshine and cold and that is something that she loves doing there are a lot of different aspects where she can. Or maybe the limitation is that she needs to be a team, with someone, so that she can achieve the things she wants to achieve in this industry. I think limiting women to different aspects of this industry is wrong.” Tori's mindset is that anyone is capable of doing anything that they want to as long as they feel that they are good at it and have the desire and motivation to do it. There should not stigma that should stop you from doing what you want to do.
Within the construction industry there is awareness around the lack of experienced workers. "Today it is nice to see that there is encouragement for girls in the STEM curriculum within schools. We have to move past the assumption that girls want pink and babies because they also can like blue and trucks. If we encourage people to do what they are good at and what they are happy doing then many women, and men, are capabale of pursuing whatever career path they desire." Tari loves the fact that “Kids aren’t afraid of anything. They will try a lot of things. When you think about the difference between a child trying something and failing, and trying something else and failing, and trying something else and succeeding, they have learned that if you don’t try you won’t succeed. Whereas adults, especially if we have kids, we have a tendency [to think] that the risk of failing is too great. I think this is a travesty because we learn when we fail, not that we ever want to fail. Hopefully we will fail small and then gain big when we try the next thing." Not wanting to encourage people to fail, Tari, shares that there is a huge risk factor to failure that is worth it. You learn something from it.
When Tari started her architecture company it was instantaneous. She had already done it before. It was quick, it was painless, and she jumped right in... no big deal. Then when she started the construction company, she thought, "Oh yeah, it should take me less than a year to organize things and get it up and running." She failed big time! She realized that there were a lot of things that she hadn’t quite gotten to where she wanted them prior to launching this new company. "That is where I had to except that I didn’t quite meet my goal. Some people would call that a fail, but I eventually succeeded which is the most important part. I appreciate the effort that much more... Every experience is a stepping stone. We didn’t learn how to walk because our parents sat us down on our feet."
Finding Passion in Construction
"I am very, very, very passionate about sharing knowledge. I believe that the phrase 'knowledge is power' has been warped to the point that people will keep that knowledge to themselves and only pass it on when they feel it’s good so that they can capitalize on the monetary sense of that knowledge. Unfortunately, I think that has kept a lot of people from really making the industry move along, technology-wise, a little faster." An example Tari shared is of the infamous, Henry Ford. "Certainly [he] wasn’t the first person to create a car but he was the first one to really mass manufacture it. Imagine if he had not done the mass manufacturing, which in essence taught a lot of people to work on his cars, then we wouldn’t be quite where we are today with all the different versions of cars and all the different technologies that come from cars. Sure there is going to be somebody who wants to build their own car… or their own house. There’s always going to be those people who want to do it themselves, but they’re not going to be the majority of the industry so let's share the knowledge of how to build a house, lets share the knowledge of how to be quality craftsmen. The people that are really enjoying themselves and really producing something of quality are going to stay in the industry. They are going to excel."
Tori realizes that the concept of construction has grown beyond just the physical product itself. There is so much more to what individuals in the construction industry produce. "Today, people don’t buy the basic house. They buy the company, their message, their quality, the style. It’s more than just the basics, so why aren’t we sharing the basics. When I first started in the field, I thought, 'this isn’t the first house that has been built. Why is it so difficult?' It blew my mind and my assessment has been that we are not sharing the knowledge. During the downturn we lost so many quality people in the industry and they didn’t come back, so now all of that knowledge is just gone. It has just vanished and it’s just sad.” Tori feels that when you share knowledge with people the majority of people are usually grateful.
With this in mind, Tari is focused on giving back to the community, making it a huge part of what Ensign Shaffer is all about. Tari believes that giving to the community sends the message to everyone who she works with and partners with to give back too. "It’s a community builder that is very important," to Tari and Ensign Shaffer.
To connect with Tari and Ensign Shaffer use any of the following links below:
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