From her nomination:
Sarah has been a consistent and reliable resource for five General Managers at Exclusive Paving, preserving institutional knowledge and mentoring the managers on contracting in a small community that is very reliant on reputation and relationships. Her interpersonal style is coupled with a unique ability to authentically interact with people from diverse social, economic, business and educational backgrounds. By taking a genuine interest in people, she develops strong long-term relationships that benefit the company over time. She enhances her effectiveness by monitoring the regulatory environment drawing attention to changes in regulations and agency processes that could affect the company and the industry. Through professional relationships, excellent knowledge of legislative processes, and liaisons with local business groups and political representatives, she brings voice to the community by initiating, guiding, coordinating and collaborating with associates, then follows through on actions needed to affect change.
Sarah Lefebvre is the Senior Contract Administrator and Office Manager for Exclusive Paving and University Redi-Mix, two of the companies in the Colaska group of companies. Colaska is the Colas USA subsidiary that operates throughout the state of Alaska.
Sarah joined Exclusive Paving in 1998 and the Colas USA Family through an acquisition in 2004. She has held the titles of Administrative Manager, Controller, Production Engineer, Production Manager, Office Manager, Contract Administrator, and Sr Contract Administrator.
Read more about Sarah Lefebvre through the following spotlight.
Describe your role to someone who is not familiar with the construction industry or Colas USA.
My standard response is that I am quite literally a paper pusher — I move the documents that allow us to work and allow subcontractors to work for us. In addition, I spend a considerable amount of time representing the company in the community and, through those roles, advocating on behalf of our industry. Outside of the company, those are the efforts that I am most known for.
What has been your favorite project so far?
I have worked for Exclusive Paving for almost 24 years and have held roles in most parts of the company. The experience in a variety of positions and in the construction industry has provided me with ongoing opportunities for mentoring others in the company, which is probably my favorite part of my job. I love seeing others grow in their hard and soft skills, and advance in their careers. It is so fulfilling!
What drew you to working within the construction industry?
I was working at a Certified Public Accountant firm and was offered a bookkeeping position with Exclusive Paving. It was just a better job with better benefits, but I was making the classic move of leaving my former position because of a supervisor who I found to be difficult to work for. It was just a coincidence that it was a move to construction. Now, it’s hard to imagine NOT working in construction!
What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day?
If I don’t do my job, others can’t do theirs. When friends tell me that I work too much in the summer, and that I should ask for some time off, I try to explain that concept to them. Someone may not work today if I don’t process the documents that allow them to do so. I take my responsibility to my coworkers very seriously.
Secondary to the people is the fact that our work season is short, and if my actions or inactions cost us a day on a project, the only way to make that day up is by working a longer day later. That longer day will be at overtime costs to the company, reducing the bottom line. And the employees working those longer days are themselves getting less of an opportunity to enjoy the limited Alaska summer days.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know how many things I am actually involved in, or how deeply involved in them I am. Some aren’t interested, some tell me I do too much so I just keep it to myself. My depth and breadth of experiences allow me to give back in diverse ways, whether that be direct advocacy or mentoring others, even outside of the company. Some things are better done quietly!
What is one recommendation you could make to help Colas USA operate better?
There are programs and solutions that come to us where it is clear that the decision makers do not have field experience. I think it would be helpful if there were more interaction with the operating companies at a daily operational level, so that there is a better understanding of our roles. The typical visits are a few hours and just a tour of a company. Spending a “normal” day with certain roles would probably greatly benefit many at the Colas level.