June 20, 2024

Building Success: Tammy Birklid on Overcoming Challenges and Leading With Empathy

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In this episode…

Women in leadership positions have traditionally faced pushback and discrimination, regardless of their industry. In a male-dominated industry like construction, the barriers to entry and acceptance are even greater.

Join Jenny Ridenour in this episode of Matters of Creative as she welcomes Tammy Birklid, the Owner and President of Merit Construction, who shares her inspiring journey through the construction industry. Tammy talks about transforming workplace discrimination into valuable opportunities, the fundamental qualities of mentors and leaders, and her future leadership goals.

Tammy Birklid is a force of change and an exemplary leader in the male-dominated construction industry. Having ascended from an office assistant to owning a multimillion-dollar construction business, Tammy faced bias from her male counterparts. Rather than let it discourage her, she leveraged the insights she gained from an industry mentor and began championing integrity, mentorship, and inclusive leadership in her company. To catalyze gender equality, Tammy recommends fostering an empathetic and inclusive workplace culture and promoting diversity.

Listen today for inspiration on how you can revolutionize your field and create positive change.

About our Guest:

Tammy BirklidTammy Birklid is the Owner and President of Merit Construction, a full-service commercial general contractor. With over 25 years of experience in the construction industry, she began as an office assistant before becoming the sole owner of Merit Construction. Tammy is also an industry mentor, empowering others and fostering leadership and inclusive work environments. Her dedication led her to launch Sage Builders, a residential home-building company.

Learn more about Tammy:





  • [3:19] Tammy Birklid shares how a simple job application sparked her lifelong career in construction
  • [5:00] How taking a brave step early in her career dramatically changed Tammy’s trajectory
  • [9:01] Advice for transforming discrimination in male-dominated fields into opportunities
  • [13:12] What are the fundamental qualities of mentors?
  • [18:37] The evolution of gender equality in the construction industry and how to foster inclusivity
  • [23:51] How leaders can uplift and empower their teams
  • [27:46] Tammy’s future goals for Sage Builders and her leadership in the industry



  • “Investing in people can transform your life as much as theirs.”
  • “I saw a need in the industry and asked myself, what can I do to be the best at what I do?”
  • “A mentor needs to be generous, selfless, and find it rewarding to invest in others.”
  • “I want every employee to believe that working with us was the best experience of their career.”
  • “True leadership means knowing your team and investing in their unique needs and goals.”


  1. Be proactive in seeking out mentors and partners who align with your values and aspirations. Mentoring broadens your perspective and provides guidance for professional growth.
  2. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, especially in male-dominated fields: By facing challenges head-on, individuals can break through barriers much like Tammy Birklid did, driving industry-wide change and personal advancement.
  3. Foster a workplace environment that values diversity and inclusivity: A workplace that embraces diverse strengths and perspectives creates a resilient and innovative team capable of exceptional performance.
  4. Prioritize genuine relationships with your team, understanding and responding to their unique needs: Building trust and loyalty within a team motivates employees to perform at their best.
  5. Aim to create a lasting legacy that transcends your tenure within an organization: Focusing on a vision for the future ensures the sustainability and continued impact of your work.


This episode is brought to you by M Agency, a full-service creative marketing agency in Tacoma, Washington.

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