The woman in the pink hard hat knows her business
Donning her signature pink hard hat each day, UIU alumna Lindsay Highland-Revelle is the “boots on the ground,” working alongside three employees and her husband, Bill Revelle Jr. The many facets of her company, LC Service and Supply of Festus, Mo., are the results of Highland-Revelle’s commitment and innovation to ensure its longevity in a competitive construction service and supply industry.
“I was 26 when I started; so it was funny to go to meetings with these construction guys, and they’re like, ‘uh, yeah.’ You know, to them, I was just the girl in the room,” said Highland-Revelle. “But when you can start talking to them about the industry, they realize you’re knowledgeable. Sometimes it’s hard to get across that you know what you’re talking about. I’ve tried talking to these men before and they literally turned away and ignored me.”
Highland-Revelle says that’s where her psychology degree from Upper Iowa University comes in, and she’s able to handle herself fairly well in the male-dominated industry.
Recruited to play soccer at UIU, the St. Charles, Mo., native was unsure of what she would do after college. Starting out as an athletic training major, Highland-Revelle switched to business, then computer programming, and finally psychology with a minor in criminal justice. She was also fully involved in life at the Fayette campus as a resident assistant in Garbee Hall, where she remembers another student trying to resolve an argument by bringing a machete into the dining hall. Highland-Revelle was also a member of the first group to join Beta Theta Omega sorority, and held two jobs, working at a gas station and DT’s Pub while competing on the women’s soccer team and staying on top of her coursework.
After four years, and just shy of graduating, Highland-Revelle left Upper Iowa to marry and returned to the St. Louis area. She finished her bachelor’s degree through UIU’s self-paced program in 2007. After four years of marriage, Highland-Revelle divorced. At the time she was working for Revelle Trucking, and was searching for a change in her professional life. She wanted to start her own trucking and supply company. She took her idea to her then-employer, Bill Revelle Sr. He told her to go for it.
Highland-Revelle applied for the federal disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program and the St. Louis area Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) program, whose purpose is to grow businesses that are owned by minorities and women and ensure that these businesses have the maximum opportunity to participate in city contracts that are locally funded. The process to be certified is extensive and includes an in-person review process in front of a board of directors. LC Service and Supply is DBE certified in Missouri, as well as Texas and North Dakota.
The year 2008 was challenging for construction firms across the country. Revelle Sr. went from having 30 trucks on the road to only eight. It wasn’t the best time to be starting out, but Highland-Revelle persevered and has now earned a reputation as an up-and-coming firm.
“I recently had a meeting with S.M. Wilson, one of the top contractors in St. Louis,” she said. “They had awarded a contract to my company to haul for them. When you get a job that is contracted through the city of St. Louis, there are extra regulations you need to adhere to. So, at this meeting, there were nine people from S.M. Wilson and representatives from the city. I basically defended my company and business practices in order to be able to fulfill the contract. Afterward, I received a really good response with all these emails from S.M. Wilson. For me to get such positive feedback from a company as large as they are ̶ it was huge for me.”
LC Service and Supply specializes in dump trucks, roll-off containers and water and sewer utility abandonment. It was recently approved as the only distributor in the St. Louis area of The Pink Cart, a collection container for which portions of every sale are donated to the American Cancer Society to help fund breast cancer research.
In the beginning, Highland-Revelle brokered trucks from other companies. In 2010, she bought her first truck, and added two more a year later. In late 2012, Highland-Revelle acquired a roll-off container company adding 40 containers and one truck to the fleet. For the water and sewer utility abandonment portion of the company, Highland-Revelle and her husband travel all over the United States filling abandoned sewers with a mixture of fly ash, a byproduct of coal, and water. Termed “flowable fill,” it is an alternative to concrete. In the spring, the couple spent two weeks in Omaha applying the flowable fill to abandoned sewer lines beneath the botanical gardens that had been built on a former landfill site. She likes to joke that she, her husband and their family are together more than any family should be.
“This is truly a family affair!” laughed Highland-Revelle. “My brothers-in-law work here; so has my mom and sister at one point. And, my father-in-law is across the hall from me every day! My four step-children are in and out of here quite often.”
As a business owner, Highland-Revelle spends a lot of time looking through newspapers and websites finding work to keep her employees busy and her company growing. “As a subcontractor for a lot of the jobs we complete, we often don’t see any money from a job for at least six months,” she said. “That’s typical in our industry. I’m constantly looking for projects and other work to keep the money coming in. There are a lot of times that I go without a paycheck. As an owner, it’s my duty to look after my employees first. That’s why I also do the paperwork and billing for five companies to bring in a little extra for myself, and I’m always looking for projects where we can take our flowable fill process.”
Expanding that facet of her company is a goal of Highland-Revelle’s as she continues to grow LC Service and Supply. She is seeing a trend in the construction service industry as the younger generation is coming up in the ranks, and building positive relationships with her peers will only add to her success.
“I didn’t realize what an impact Upper Iowa had on me until you get out of the atmosphere. Then you realize that all those classes you sat through, that you thought were completely irrelevant – the information really does come back,” she said. “It all makes sense once you finally leave. A lot of the professors that were there were awesome. You have small classes, and you have the freedom to say what you want to say and to be heard. It makes it easier when you get out into the business world. Many people are afraid to speak up in those smaller groups, but when you’ve been educated that way, it makes it so much easier.”
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