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St. Pete’s largest private employer, Power Design, shines as a majority woman-led business

St. Pete’s largest private employer, Power Design, shines as a majority woman-led business

Women at Power Design
Photo courtesy Power Design, Inc.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we want to showcase the people and businesses in St. Petersburg who not only support equality externally, but live by it internally. As it turns out, Tampa Bay’s biggest private employer, headquartered in north St. Pete, is the perfect example of a local company doing things right.

Power Design Inc got its start as a family-owned-and-operated small business here in St. Pete, and as its grown into one of the nation’s leading design build contractors, it has stayed true to its roots, with co-founder and co-chairman Dana Permuy leading since day one. In a construction industry where women typically make up as little a single percentage point of the workforce, Power Design is the rare company with more than just a token number of women in positions of leadership.

A group of Power Design employees in the St. Pete Pride parade
Photo courtesy Power Design

In fact, half of Power Design’s Executive Steering Committee is made up of women, creating a C-suite of proven, talented leadership that is representative of all who work in construction. Most of them have been on the board for years, leading the way as Power Design has grown from its humble roots into an industry leader that employs nearly 3,000 people in everything from engineering and design to marketing and technology (and even an impressive group of chefs and baristas.)

Even as this is being written, Power Design is showcasing the work of its female employees and leadership team as they’ve been celebrating the 26th annual Women In Construction Week. This year’s theme is “Keys to the future,” an appropriate designation for Power Design’s and its many women at the top who are running the show.

“Women in Construction Week hits differently at Power Design,” the company notes in its latest blog, “and is celebrated immensely because we are a company that is led by badass women.”

Women at Power Design
(From left to right) Chief Financial Officer Heather Ford, Chief People & Culture Officer Morgan Permuy, Chief Growth Officer Lauren Permuy, Chief of Staff Marcela Gomez, and Co-chairman and Co-founder Dana Permuy. Photo courtesy Power Design, Inc.

Between the five leading ladies on the executive team, they have more than 100 combined years of service at Power Design, representing the nearly 500 women currently employed at Power Design. Having so many high profile and experienced women in these roles has proven invaluable for a company that has nearly 50% more female employees than the industry average.

“The most powerful way to empower women in construction is through example and we have that here at Power Design,” said Cheryl Roussell, Senior Engagement Partner at PDI. “Women are transforming the traditional notions of construction, bringing fresh perspectives, empathy, and further collaboration to the industry. Having so many women in executive leadership roles provides me with a sense of encouragement and pride.”

Representing half of the Executive Steering Team, PDI is largely led by an incredible quintet of highly-experienced women: Co-chairman and Co-founder Dana Permuy; Chief Financial Officer Heather Ford; Chief Growth Officer Lauren Permuy; Chief of Staff Marcela Gomez; and Chief People and culture Officer Morgan Permuy.

“Since women are under-represented in the construction industry, it’s empowering to have so many strong female role models representing Power Design,” said Kim Hill, a Lighting Project Executive at PDI. “In a male-dominated industry, it says to other women, ‘this can be you.’”

Those ladies in leadership have paved the way for the more than 470 other women at Power Design who are vital in shaping the future of the construction industry. Read more about them and their impact here.

Power Design sets an industry standard

As for the work of the company itself, Power Design has grown into something of a one-stop-shop for construction developers. By specializing in so many different areas (a rarity in the field), Power Design helps streamline construction processes by doing the work of what typically requires multiple contractors.

Specifically, they focus on electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and systems technologies buildout for construction projects. That scope encompasses everything from the lighting in conference rooms to carbon filtration in parking garages, with all the fire alarms, bathrooms, and literal nuts and bolts in between.

Of course, while it’s their professional services that make them important to their clients and partners, it’s Power Design’s role in the community that makes it special to St. Pete. It’s a rarity in so many of Florida’s growing cities to have such a large company not only headquartered locally, but founded there. Power Design is entrenched as an economic driver for the individuals and families who actually live in St. Pete and the surrounding areas.

Women at Power Design
Women gathered at PDI’s recent “Women In Construction Happy Hour.” Photo courtesy Power Design, Inc.

And the benefits have spread much farther than that, thanks to Power Design’s primary charitable program: Project V5. The company recycles millions of pounds of wire on its job sites all over the country, resulting in a significant amount of excess scrap wire. The program ensures that all of the wire is recycled for cash, and then the profit is donated straight to employee-chosen charities.

To date, the program has recycled nearly 400 million pounds of wire, benefiting more than 500 charities that represent the company’s five core values: integrity, accountability, teamwork, innovation, and growth.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, and as St. Pete continues to grow, we raise a toast to a company that made it big by investing in women, investing in the community, and continuing be part of the fabric of the city it has called home since day one.


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