L’Tryce Slade, founder of Slade LLC—Environmental Consulting, General Contracting, knows how to respond to doubters: confidence and top-quality work.
“I am often the only woman at the table, and I feel being a woman is an issue, more so than being black,” said Slade, whose 10-member firm conducted soil testing for the Birmingham Crossplex. “If I didn’t feel comfortable and believe I am just as equal to others, I would be unable to exude [my attitude] to others.”
Some companies have changed bids on projects to keep work out of her reach, she said. But when a minority company produces high-quality work, it can counter any discrimination.
Slade’s established her construction company in her apartment in 2006: “It was just me,” she said.
Since then, Slade’s business has grown to include locations in Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas, Texas; and Greenville, S.C., all of which handle a broad range of projects for prominent clients.
Slade said she has been turned down for many jobs but is determined to press ahead as one of the few black female contractors in Alabama.
“It’s not just about you when you’re working that hard,” she said. “You’ve got to have a purpose behind what you do and be aware of the impact you will have on other people.”
Owning a construction company isn’t what Slade thought she would do, especially with a degree in communications, regional planning, and law from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“It’s not the typical story of starting a business,” she said. “I didn’t dream of being an entrepreneur.”
Slade’s firm was created after she moved to Birmingham to work on an environmental case in a local law office. After the case ended, her job ended, too. Not wanting to leave the Magic City, she looked for another job. After serving as a consultant for several construction projects, Slade decided to start her own business.
Up And Running
The company’s main office is located at the Birmingham Innovation Depot. In addition, Slade also runs a construction material testing lab, where soil, concrete, mortar, and asphalt analysis is done. Opening her own lab was big for the business, she said, but it took a few years to pay for the equipment needed to get up and running.
“It’s like a kitchen. You can’t say you have a kitchen if you don’t have a stove, a refrigerator, pots and pans—the stuff necessary for a kitchen to be a kitchen,” Slade said. “It’s the same thing for a lab. I can’t have a lab and not have the necessary equipment.”
The company—100 percent woman- and minority-owned—has grown to include a construction project manager, an environmental scientist, urban planners, and civil professionals for both public- and private-sector organizations. The firm has done work with federal agencies, state governments, local municipalities, regional planning commissions, major corporations, financial institutions, nonprofit groups, and airports, as well as for firms that handle real estate development, health care, education, and law.
Slade is mindful to give back, too. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Links Inc., and the Junior League, and she hopes her company can be a resource of advancement.
“It’s important to find a way to plug back into your community and to give back,” Slade said. “I want to be able to get [people in lower-income communities] access to training and certifications so they can have viable careers, not just jobs.”
For more information …
Birmingham address: 1500 First Ave. N, Unit 54, Birmingham, AL 35203