No woman has ever been inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame. Until now.
The first West Michigan woman’s name to ever be recorded into that Michigan Construction Hall of Fame at Ferris State University will be Linda Vos-Graham, president of Grand Rapids-based Vos Glass.
Vos-Graham’s induction will be next Thursday, at 6 p.m., at the Grainger Center for Construction and HVACR.
Her induction is part of an historic three-crested wave of women construction professionals being inducted at the 11th annual Hall of Fame event — marking the first time any woman, let alone three, will be in the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame.
Vos-Graham was personally nominated by John Doherty of Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, she said, calling her award, “humbling, overwhelming,” and an event that she is extremely grateful for.
“I was shocked when they told me,” Vos-Graham said. “At this point in my career, I feel like I still have so much to accomplish.
“I’m hoping it will inspire other women and show them it is a great career, even though we by far are the minority in industry,” added Vos-Graham. “It’s just there haven’t been many role models in yet. Hopefully, this changes that.”
The other two women to being inducted are Eileen McCarthy, VP and senior project manager at McCarthy & Smith, which was created in 1965 out of Farmington Hills, and Karen Schroeder, VP of the Lansing-based Mayberry Homes.
The inductees to the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame were selected by the Home Builders Association of Michigan, Associated of Builders and Contractors of Michigan, Associated General Contractors of Michigan, Construction Association of Michigan and the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.
Vos-Graham is no stranger to being a pioneering women in a generally male-dominated industry.
She was also the first female president of the American Subcontractors Association of Michigan and founding president of the Michigan Glass Association.
While at Vos Glass, Vos-Graham has been named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Business Journal twice, in 2010 and 2012.
Under Vos-Graham’s leadership, Vos Glass contributed to a number of major developments: Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Van Andel Institute, DeVos Place, Steelcase Learning Center. Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, Grand Rapids Civic Theater, Bridgewater Place, Calvin College Spoelhof Fieldhouse and Grand Valley State University.
Vos Glass also donated much of the glass that was used to create one of ArtPrize’s most memorable local pieces, Metaphorest in downtown Grand Rapids, at 98 Fulton St.
A career in glass
Vos Glass was founded in 1982 by her father, Clarence “Jake” Vos. She’s worked there since the beginning and became primary owner and president in 2001 after he died.
“Becoming the president was a quite a moment, but the moment’s that’s going to really strike me is the moment when I’ve been president for longer than my father was,” Vos-Graham said. “I think you still see the majority of the women in the industry are generational, born in. You don’t see many on the contracting side, but the opportunities are there.”
The opportunities in the construction industry are there, Vos-Graham said, women just need to take them.
Any no-nonsense person, male or female, can fit into the construction industry, she said, adding that although her father’s legacy might have protected her some, she succeeded because of her drive, something men of all industries tend to respect.
“I get treated like everybody else,” Vos-Graham said. “When I mess up, I get yelled at, and when I do my job, I get rewarded. I just don’t really feel like I’m treated any differently. What I truly like about construction is it’s very competitive, and I like winning.”