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Chapman Construction Group Wins Contract for First U.S.-Based Offshore Wind Platform

Green Energy Project a Milestone for Woman-Led Construction Firm

A young Vicki Chapman entered the construction field straight out of trade school back in the mid-1980s – a very different time and place for women in the industry, to say the least.

 

“There were not a lot of women in the trades to talk to, then. There were no ‘support groups,” Chapman recalls, noting the atmosphere on sites wasn’t always welcoming. “There were few bathrooms for women. And you were working with men who had never seen a woman on a worksite in their lives. No one wanted to teach a woman how to do things.”

 

The early days were tough. Many of Chapman’s women colleagues quit, but she stuck with it. “I found my way around and managed to learn. Once people saw I was a good worker, I would find more work.”

 

The workplace environment that greeted the younger Chapman is a far cry from today’s construction sites, where growing numbers of women work shoulder-to-shoulder with male colleagues and, in some cases, are the ones calling the shots. The latter includes Chapman herself, whose company, Chapman Construction Group, Inc., was awarded the contract for the first utility-scale offshore wind energy project in the U.S.

 

CCGI is working on the construction and installation of the 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 project’s electrical service platform located 35 miles off the Cape Cod peninsula. The primary contractors on the project are Denmark-based EPC partners Semco Maritime and Bladt Industries. We also work directly for Vineyard Wind. Once work is completed, the 800MW capacity wind farm is expected to meet the electrical demands of more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, eliminating more than 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

 

It’s an ambitious assignment for the relatively young outfit. Founded in 2002, CCGI is a full-service electrical construction company servicing Greater Boston and Cape Cod. Successful projects in its portfolio include LED installation on the Summer Tunnel and the MBTA Green Line extension, among many others.

 

Still, the Vineyard Wind project represents a decisive step forward for the NECA/IBEW Local 103/Local 223 contractor, which has deployed a multi-skilled union workforce consisting of electricians, iron workers, carpenters, painters, and laborers.

 

Working offshore with an international partner presented a series of first-time challenges. “The Denmark headquarters is six hours ahead of us, plus the language barrier – we needed to figure out a lot of things quickly,” said Dianne Smith, CCGI’s Chief Executive Officer and Chapman’s co-lead on the project. The CCGI crews underwent extensive Global Wind Operation (GWO) training, as well as HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) and SPRAT (Ropes Access) training – a process that proved both expensive and time consuming. “We plowed through every problem as it came at us, and I have to say Vineyard has been very supportive of us.”

 

Added Chapman, “Now that we’re trained, the partners can reach out to us for other projects.”

Being prepared for the next opportunity is Chapman’s MO, which she credits with helping the company grow in scale and reputation despite numerous obstacles over the years. “We’ve been able to grow by putting a strong management team in place and by investing in equipment and manpower, and it’s paying off,” she said. “When I started the company in 2002, I was working out of my spare bedroom. Today when we show up on site, the client sees the  staff and equipment to do the job. It’s nice to feel like we’ve come full circle after having chased this work for so long.”