Many more women in hard hats have been seen on public road and private construction projects in recent years.

However, it's the rare woman who has the opportunity, and the ability, to run the whole construction and building contractor company show.

The South Sound, though, has at least one such stellar role model in Patricia Candiotta, president of Pease Construction. Candiotta grew up in the family business her grandfather and father began, and now runs a major arm of it, along with her cousin.

And, at the helm of a company in an industry that's certainly seen its down time through the past five years, she's been a force of calm and positivity amid the storm. That's likely why Pease not only survived, but also thrived throughout the recession – and is now picking up contracts at lightning speed.

“We've seen a markedly upward trend in the last year compared to the previous four, when everything was looking rather bleak for the construction industry,” she said. “Things have loosened up quite a bit.”

Indeed they have – for Pease, anyway. The company has won seven of its last 12 construction bids, or 57 percent. They've taken on a major deal for the City of Tacoma at the Marine Science Operation Center on Ruston Way. And Pease has been the recipient of a much sought-after Multi-project Award Task Order Contract through the Army Corps of Engineers with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where workers are currently handling a number of utility-related projects like electrical replacement and sewer line maintenance.

Although the company had been more focused on public works funded by the state, the evaporation of funds that came with the recession grew Pease's private-project construction side. Two recent endeavors on that end are contracts with Potelco in Sumner, and the Morrow Equipment Company service facility near Frederickson.

“We've picked up most of our new jobs in the last three months,” Candiotta said. “It's just popping.”

Off and on, depending on contracts, Pease now supports 40 employees. And the company's construction activities around the South Sound spark local economies wherever they go.

So what has the experience been like for Candiotta as the female leader of a major construction company in a still very male-dominated industry?

“It is a nontraditional role, so it's definitely had its challenges as a woman,” she recounted. “But it's been fascinating, and it's had its ups and downs, but I have enjoyed all of it.”

And she encourages any woman whose curiosity is piqued by the building industry to learn more – and then to jump right in.

“Any woman should get out there and get involved if she's interested in building and construction,” said Candiotta.