Breaking the Mold: Gail Thibault

August 23, 2019

Gail pictured in the white hard hat conducting a safety brief with her crew.

By Kent DeMerchant

Aroostook – Gail Thibault is an Engineer Tech at Northeast Paving, formerly Lane Construction. She is responsible for a variety of tasks both at the paving plant and the many job sites the company oversees.  Her career story started in high school where she developed an interest in the trades. Gail attended the Building Trades program at the Presque Isle Tech Center during her junior and senior year.  Upon graduation from high school, she enrolled in the Residential Construction program at NMCC.  After competing her first year of the program, Gail took a break from school to marry her husband and rejoined the workforce full time.  Once they had children, Gail stayed home for several years to raise their children.

When her husband got laid off from his job, Gail needed to reenter the workforce.  She was employed at Columbia Forest Products on a night shift.  Although this job met her family’s needs at the time, the ability to move up in the company was limited.  She wanted to find a more challenging job that also provided the opportunity to advance. It was during this time Gail started to participate in the College Savings Match Program through Women, Work, and Community, now called New Ventures Maine.

After completing this program, she returned to NMCC and completed her Associates Degree in Applied Science in Residential Construction. This second year of education was not as easy as it sounded.  Gail was still working full time at Columbia Forest Products on the night shift while taking classes during the day.  Balancing work, family and school, Gail reports she would take naps in her car between classes whenever she could.  It was a significant sacrifice, but she knew it would pay off once she completed this goal. During her senior year, Gail attended the spring job fair at NMCC where she met with staff from Lane Construction.  She applied for and was hired for a dispatch position in the scale room.  The opportunity for advancement and the ability to do different things within the company was appealing to Gail.  She gradually found herself doing many other jobs within the company.

Recently, Lane Construction in Presque Isle, was bought out by Eurovia Atlantic Coast LLC and goes by the name of Northeast Paving.  Gail is now an Engineer Tech.  With this job, she leads small crews in various projects at the paving plant and on job sites. Gail recently used her carpentry skills as she and a small crew of workers gave a facelift to the main office.  They repaired the siding, applied a new paint color, added window trim and installed architectural shingles to the entryway roof.  She also has a hand in helping with estimating for contracts, working on advertising and recruiting projects along with looking for ways for the company to be more efficient.  Gail works to retain solid employees and has a good understanding of the balance between the company keeping reliable employees to be successful and having employees understand the success of the company being a direct benefit to their career stability.  When a company takes care of their employees and employees take care of their company, results are win-win for both sides.

Gail recently finished a bachelor’s degree in Business and Professional Studies at the Presque Isle branch of Husson University where she received the Director’s Award for highest grade point average in her program.  As part of her studies, Gail participated in a business and cultural experience in China.  It was a good opportunity to learn about international business and various cultural differences between the two countries.  Gail also gained valuable skills in working with people.

Gail would encourage any young woman entering a trade not to get wrapped up in learning everything and being perfect the first time out.  She also advises staying positive and persevering.  In order to be successful one needs to get a foot in the door, look to people who are successful in their career, and follow their example.  Learning the terminology of the trade will help one learn new skills and become more confident.  A strong work ethic is needed to gain new skills.  With those skills, confidence will follow.  With confidence comes success.


Quick Facts:

Construction Carpenter

Job Duties

Construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, using carpenter’s hand tools and power tools.

Skills Needed

The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble.

2018 National Average Pay

$22.40/hour; $46,590/year

Job Outlook 2016-2026

5% to 9%

Source: O’NET Online (2017)

NMCC 2017 at Graduate Success Rate (Employed, Cont. Education, or both):