The Eleven Percent: Meet Debra Hilmerson, Jobsite Safety Pro

A 30-plus year construction industry veteran, Debra Hilmerson actively encourages women to consider careers in the trades, and often mentors upcoming construction safety industry leaders and entrepreneurs. So, she was honored when Family Handyman asked to include her in its “11 Percent” series, named for the percentage of women construction workers in the U.S.

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Family Handyman spotlights Deb Hilmerson

Family Handyman is the oldest and largest publication for DIYers. Hilmerson saw this article as an opportunity to nurture interest among young women who might already be showing an aptitude for working in the trades.

The interview explains the catalyst for Hilmerson’s passion for jobsite safety was the death of a co-worker from a worksite injury.

“He was just doing his job,” she recalls. “He was going to leave at the same time I was, and then he didn’t go home. Deep down, that gave me this desire to want to do something different.”

A success story for future construction entrepreneurs

Hilmerson recounts how she transitioned from safety coordinator to successful entrepreneur, a story that will surely resonate with younger generations of future business leaders.

“I got frustrated by faulty wooden leading-edge fall protection systems being constructed on construction sites. First, the 2×4 guardrail systems are dangerous, take extensive time to install and are only as good as the carpenter building them. Second, I would see 40 stories of 2x4s thrown away at the end of a job.”

“I knew there had to be a better way for safety, job site productivity, overall cost and the environment. I thought, ‘Why don’t we make a guardrail system that’s reusable, saves time and money, and is environmentally friendly?'”

“I modeled it after the same heavy-duty scaffolding we’ve been using for years. But instead of using powder-coat paint, our product is hot-dipped galvanized and comes in kits, so it lasts decades and can be easily stored.”

Family Handyman spotlights Deb Hilmerson

“Since we rolled out this product just three years ago, we’ve saved hundreds of thousands of 2x4s from going into landfills. We also plant a tree in the U.S. National Forest on behalf of our customers who decide to make the change and go leaner.”

Are you, or is someone you know, wanting to enter the construction industry?

If you are inspired by Hilmerson’s story, she advises: “Don’t let anything hold you back. There’s a lot of opportunity in the trades and a lot of positions available.”

“Women might think of construction like pouring concrete, but you don’t have to limit yourself to dirt and sweat. You can be an architect, an engineer, a project superintendent, a craft worker; there are so many variations. Educate yourself and find a mentor.”

“Many of us are willing to help others navigate through some of the challenging times. LinkedIn and other social media platforms are great places to start. Of course, also work harder, work smarter, show up early, prove yourself, be willing to listen and to learn, and to ask and participate.”

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About Hilmerson Safety

Hilmerson Safety® is a full-service safety product design and manufacturing company serving the construction industry. Since 2001 Hilmerson Safety® has been working with construction industry leaders and contractors to develop safe, lean, construction-grade™ products and solutions that add to the company’s bottom line.

For more information email us or call (952) 239-0125