FRIENDSWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- Raquel Boujourne often shows up at the site of a construction project in heels and a pink dress shirt. But don't be fooled, the CEO of the largest Hispanic female-owned construction company in the Greater Houston area isn't afraid to get her hands dirty and pick up a shovel or operate machinery. It's how she started her company at 15 years old, now hoping to change the face of construction.
"Before I even knew how to read a blueprint, I started out in the field and I've finished concrete, I've helped with asphalt, and I've done demolition. That's nothing to be afraid of. When I go out, our guys will actually get more nervous, because I can recognize when something's right or not, and call out how to correct it."
Boujourne's journey certainly didn't come easy. The eighth-generation Texan shared that her family started from humble beginnings. Their mother worked to support two daughters on her own for the first nine years of Boujourne's life, often taking them with her on gigs as a marketing coordinator for a radio station.
"I'm really grateful for that, because we got to see different parts of the city. And it also taught me a lot about being tough and woman power," Boujourne said.
She initially pursued a career in music, competing on "Star Search", touring with a professional soccer team, and performing in a band. That's where she met her husband, Felipe. Both decided they wanted something more stable, so Boujourne headed back to school and earned a business degree at the University of Houston.
With her husband's experience in concrete and carpentry, they decided to open up their own construction business together, originally named A Status Construction. It eventually grew into a family affair. Her mom, Elaine Gracia, is now the company's vice president, and her sister, Marisa Rodriguez, is their chief financial officer.
"From day one, it was just myself and my husband. We've gone from two people up to, at one point, more than 120 people working with us at one time," she said.
One shining moment Boujourne says she will never forget was during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Bauer School of Business hired them to make repairs in the building where she attended lectures in college. With only three days to complete work on the first and second floors, they pulled together a team of 100 people, working around the clock and sleeping on-site to get the job done.
"We were at, like the bottom of the totem pole. But they had to call us, because there was so much damage done to multiple schools on campus that they needed all the hands that they could get," Boujourne said. "We were just thrown this big opportunity, and we were successful at it, which was really awesome."
That accomplishment eventually led to her company becoming the first of its kind to be awarded a public sector project over the size of $50 million from the University of Houston. After merging with the largest privately-owned general contractor in Mexico back in May, they renamed the company Indi Construction Partners.
Three months ago, the city of Houston issued a proclamation to designate June 14 as Indi Construction Partners Day and Nov. 19 as Raquel Boujourne Day, which also falls on International Entrepreneurship Day. As she reflects during Hispanic Heritage Month, Boujourne hopes that leading a company in a male-dominated industry will change the perceptions about Hispanic women in construction.
"I always knew we were going to be something, I just had no idea how big it was going to be for construction. I'm really looking forward to being a part of projects where our culture is actually reflected in those developments. Because, I feel like we don't have enough of that recognition and visibility," she said. "We also believe in supporting other Hispanic-owned businesses."
Boujourne's got her sights high. Their goal is to ultimately become the largest Hispanic female general contractor company in the country.
"When you search 'Latina general contractors,' there's no images that come up on Google Images. Hopefully, one day, you'll see our pictures on there," she said.
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