No.1 must-have: “My Boston terrier, Bridgette. She has free rein of the office and everyone loves her—she contributes to morale.”
Lori Moes began her construction career in her teens at her family’s mechanical contracting business. After college, she was trained by her father to become an estimator in commercial plumbing—a role she held for about 20 years. Soon after, in a leap built upon her experience and financial know-how, she and her husband founded the business they own today: DJM Design CAD & Coordination Services Inc.
DJM specializes in 3D CAD design and 3D modeling for commercial construction, and acts as coordination specialists, with teams in place to guide clients through every step of the construction life cycle. Its building information modeling (BIM) coordination, drafting and 3D scanning offerings help to eliminate costs and reduce change orders and RFIs before the project moves to the build phase.
At DJM, Moes has held pivotal roles in project management, BIM coordination, and today, makes waves as chief financial officer. But all the while, she has sought out ways to help other women in construction achieve their own career goals. In her early days, Moes recalls often being the only woman in pre-bid meetings and on project walk-throughs. “I remember being pregnant and somebody looking at me and going, ‘What happened to you?’” said Moes. “I’m not shy. And as long as I made sure I knew what I was talking about, I didn’t have any problems.”
Not only has she handled the finances at DJM from the start, but she is largely instrumental in ushering emergent technologies into the business. As a tech enthusiast, Moes recognized the revolutionary potential of BIM and virtual design and construction (VDC) before it took off. She transitioned the company’s drafting techniques into the 21st century with 3D design, and since then, she has not stopped looking for new ways to innovate.
“We do everything virtually,” said Moes, which came in handy once her client list expanded from the company’s home base in Pennsylvania across the United States, and, later, internationally. She has overseen some of the largest-volume projects at DJM, including classified government projects, casinos, a Universal Park Resort & Conference center and science laboratories. “It wasn’t always like this, but in most cases today, BIM is standard for big commercial contracts.”
And with the virtual capabilities DJM offers, her teams are prepared to take on any projects anywhere. “We can work wherever the work is. Being virtual, we actually never have to leave our little town,” said Moes, which is a setup that has served them well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it came to COVID-19, Moes said they were lucky to already have remote work capabilities in place. “We got the technology out there and got a signed waiver from the governor that allowed us to remain open,” said Moes. DJM got Paycheck Protection Program funding in the first round, leaving the company in the position to keep all its existing employees and wages. During this time, Moes also began a new company initiative to supply local hospitals and health-care facilities with 3D-printed face shields when they not have access to supplies. Moes networked with industry stakeholders and local medical facilities to supply nurses and doctors with an estimated 1,300 shields at no cost to the facilities in need.
Moes says when DJM was founded, it was the technology that helped to build it to its current heights of success, and now, it’s that same technology-forward approach that helps them stay there.
At DJM, Moes lends her expertise to other women looking to rise in the ranks. “I mentor our estimator, who has now been with the company for 8 years,” said Moes. Moes originally brought her in as an office assistant. “She showed great potential and I said, ‘I’m going to make an estimator out of you,’” just the way her father once told her. “It’s just a matter of taking the time and seeing someone’s potential,” said Moes. DJM’s female quotient is always climbing, and of the 19 employees in the office today, there are two female drafters, two female estimators and a female project manager on staff.
To other women looking to join in the industry, Moes says, “You need to just do it, and never think that you’re any less capable of doing it because you’re a woman. If it’s something you enjoy and you take the time to learn it, you’ll have the confidence in what you’ve learned to act upon it.”
As an executive, she continues to encourage innovation in every area of business, exemplified by the company’s recent entry into 3D scanning, 3D printing, and planned entry into virtual reality (VR). Even in her life outside of work, technology follows Moes. She and her husband enjoy sailing and have equipped their boat with internet and Wi-Fi to make it possible to work from the water. In a year where virtually everything is virtual, Moes has the wind at her back and keeps moving ahead.