Movers & Shakers Spotlight – Alma Cortez

Alma Cortez is the Sales Manager at United Rock Products, which is a part of Sully-Miller Contracting Co., the Colas USA subsidiary that operates throughout Southern California.

Read more about Alma through the following spotlight.

Describe your role to someone who is not familiar with the construction industry or Colas USA.
At United Rock Products, my primary responsibility is to drive customer engagement and facilitate the coordination of sales and production in collaboration with our operations teams. Additionally, I actively collaborate with Sully-Miller Contracting Co. to ensure the timely provision of materials for their various projects.

What has been your favorite project so far?
One of my most cherished endeavors to date has been our sponsorship of the Crystal Roses Golf Tournament, an initiative that was introduced to our company by Salvador Garibay, one of our dedicated operators at Pit 2. The inspiration behind this event came from his wife’s fathers battle with cancer, which led them to discover this impactful organization. We are committed to not only sustaining but also expanding our sponsorships and fostering a deeper connection through the growth of this event.

What drew you to working within the construction industry?
My grandfather had a life-long career in construction when he first arrived in the United States. When I was presented with the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, I initially didn’t anticipate it becoming a career for me. However, the daily challenges and the chance to engage in creative problem-solving made me appreciate that I can be authentic in the workplace.

Conversations with my grandpa, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic while working from home, remain close to my heart. He would reminisce about laying SE30 sands during pipework and would listen to my customer interactions with a smile.

Now that he has passed, I feel his presence as I drive onto a jobsite or observe the maintenance crews tending to repairs in the plant. These moments serve as reminders of why I chose this profession. He had a remarkable way of communicating with both care and a strong sense of purpose, and I aspire to leave a lasting, positive legacy associated with my name in this field.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day?
What inspires me each day to head into work is the impact I believe I make in the day-to-day operations. I am aware that my actions and demeanor are observed not only by my senior management but also by those younger than me, particularly the women aspiring to excel in this predominantly male-dominated industry. It is my desire for people to witness that a woman can confidently occupy a significant role, lead and thrive in such an environment.

My aspiration is to leave a lasting impression as someone who is diligent, compassionate towards others, dedicated to the community, and committed to environmental stewardship.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
What many people may not be aware of is that I played Division 1 softball at Middle Tennessee State University. My journey to Division 1 was anything but conventional, which speaks to my tenacity.

I initially started my collegiate softball career at a junior college in Arizona, where I was fortunate to secure a full-ride scholarship, allowing me to focus on both my academics and the sport. Then, I transitioned to a small NAIA institution, which, in short, was not a good fit for me. Faced with this situation, I decided to reach out to numerous colleges in Tennessee, submitting my transcripts in pursuit of a new opportunity.

In this endeavor, MTSU stood out by being one of the first to respond with an offer. Achieving Division 1 status had always been a goal of mine, as few make it to this level, and MTSU ultimately became the platform where I not only concluded my softball career but also ignited my passion for coaching and mentoring.

From her nomination:

“Alma is dedicated and hardworking. She is extremely organized and focused on continuously learning and developing best practices to manage sales activities both efficiently and effectively. She has a positivity to her that is absolutely infectious and her willingness to take on any task is awesome. She isn’t afraid to reach out for help if she is struggling (doesn’t happen often). Her positivity and energy spreads like a wildfire throughout the office and motivates us all to be better every day.”