OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As we work towards social justice and equality, 3 news now is telling stories of people, plans, and projects aimed at showing how Omaha is moving forward.
Ashley Kuhn and Maranda Adams are trailblazers in their field: construction.
“We are 100% women-owned, minority-owned, and we have our class a construction license,” said Adams.
Together, the two Omaha natives and University of Nebraska alumni built their company, Blair Freeman Construction, three years ago after reconnecting years after college.
“I had been previously at another real estate development firm for 15 years and when Maranda came back in town, we kinda started to have that thought process of, ‘I’ve built this company from the ground up with somebody else and it's somebody else's,’ and it was time for us to start building a legacy for our families and be deeply rooted in the community,” said Kuhn.
Working side by side, the duo is tearing down the barriers of being two Black women in an industry made predominantly of men.
‘Omaha definitely has the good ol’ boys club, but it's not just Omaha, it's the construction industry as a whole. But I will tell you that quote-on-quote, good ol’ boys network has been phenomenal to Maranda and I. They've called, they've reached out, ‘What can we do?’ In an environment where they should be competitors, most have reached out and said, ‘What can we do? We understand that we're here and you're here. How do we get you there?’ For me that's like whoa! it's a game changer that somebody would reach out that one day, could be actual neck-and-neck competitors,” Kuhn said.
Their foundation is based on community.
“We are capacity builders, is what I always like to say. So, if there's a young girl that wants to see what construction looks like, call us. If there's somebody that's in college that is not sure what the next step is from college to career, call us. If there's somebody that's looking to make a career change, if there's someone that's working on a project, call us. We're a resource. Not a paid resource. We are here legitimately and genuinely to want to organically spear people to get into construction, to do development in the community as a whole, we are a resource and we are here,” said Kuhn.
Their mission includes opening the door for others, especially women, who may be interested in building a career in the construction field.
“We often say, you can't be what you can't see, and so the opportunity for us to go into different organizations with young girls who have never seen women in construction, let alone minority women in construction and see us and say, ‘You know what? I want to be in construction, I want to be an architect, an engineer or something in that field.’ That's been really rewarding and impactful for us,” Adams said.
Since its founding, their company has grown to having 13 employees and they've completed about 95 construction projects.
As they continue moving their company forward, they're also focused on changing the landscape of real estate in North Omaha.
“We can change the tide of how development has been perceived in the past from a North Omaha standpoint and now we can come to the forefront of that, and hopefully meld two different opinions that have been there. Like how do we develop, but how do we not kick people out of the neighborhood? How do we provide affordable housing; there's all these pieces that we understand that we can now marry the two and hopefully get this development thing sparked off in North Omaha,” Kuhn said.