‘I Feel So Blessed’

Kimberly Binns Thrives in a New Role While Eyeing a Long-Term Vision

Kimberly Binns has a unique skill set that combines the creative mind of an artist with – thanks to training from Construction Ready – the understanding of the hands-on trades that make a building plan become reality.

Kimberly earned a fine arts degree in commercial design in 2010. She followed a winding career path through the ensuing years until, in fall of 2023, she learned about Construction Ready’s Pre-Apprenticeship training. She enrolled in Group 44 at the program’s Westside Works location, graduated on March 1, 2024, and went to work as an office engineer for Hogan Construction Group, a position that shares some traits with a project manager role.

Her initial assignment has been working on Hogan’s largest project to date, a $40 million Embassy Suites Hotel in Chattanooga, TN. By the middle of April, the company had waived the three-month probationary period for new employees and elevated Kimberly to salaried status.

Kimberly also serves on the Advisory Board for the Atlanta Beltline, a role that opened her eyes to a unique need: Proposals for public works of art along the Beltline often were denied simply because they didn’t have the resources for the installation. That fed right into a vision Kimberly has for her new construction career. Read on to learn more about that, as well as her work at Hogan, her experience at Westside Works, and more.

What were you doing before you got into construction?

When I got my degree, it was towards the tail end of the housing crisis, and I never actually got a chance to use it. Firms just were not hiring then. So I had to pivot, and I used my creative and artistic background to do video work, which led to doing post-production editing work. From there, I pivoted into theater and started doing video projection design.

How did you learn about Construction Ready?

I never watched the news in the middle of the day, but one day the TV was on Fox 5 Atlanta and they were highlighting the graduating class of the I.T. program at Westside Works. The reporter outlined all the other programs they had, and when she said “Construction Ready,” I thought, “Oh, what is that?” So I got on my phone, went to the website, and signed up for an information session.

Talk about the experience of going through Construction Ready training at Westside Works.

The folks at Westside Works were amazing. They are really there for your success. I felt like they were there to help me get to wherever I was trying to get to. And the Construction Ready instructors are industry professionals. These are not just fly-by-night folks. They have years in the trades, they have years of experience, they know things.

The best thing was my class – Crew 44, that’s what we call ourselves – the way we connected was unlike any experience I had with a group of strangers in my life. We all entered that program for whatever reason, from all walks of life, from all circumstances. The one commonality for us is that we showed up for ourselves and we all recognized that in each other. We decided then and there that we were going to help each other and lift each other up. We still meet via Zoom every Saturday morning.

What has your work with Hogan Construction been like so far?

Everyone is really friendly and helpful. I can go and ask anybody anything. They encourage you to do that. I’m really excited to be a part of [the Embassy Suites project]. I basically hit the ground running when I got here. And I continue to learn every day. I don’t necessarily have to be on site every week, but I like to go maybe twice a month, because things are moving so quickly. I want to walk the site and get a better understanding of what I’m looking at when I see the drawing. My background is really helpful, because I can understand architectural drawings. It’s been a fulfilling experience.

You have a vision for what you ultimately want to do. What is that?

My grand vision includes art, because I’m a practicing visual artist, and I’ve always been interested in construction. I was thinking to myself, what’s something I could do that would merge these two things that I really enjoy in my life? So I said I want to create a construction company that is specifically geared towards the installation of large-scale public art works. Those things require skilled labor to install, and what better person to be at the helm of such a company than an artist?

What would you tell someone who is considering Construction Ready training?

I tell everyone I know about it, especially young people. I know a few young people in my life who are kind of in need of some direction, and I say, “Hey, go sign up. Just do it.” There are so many opportunities. Everybody’s not cut out for a university. Everybody’s not cut out for necessarily corporate work. The skilled trades are honorable work.

How has Construction Ready impacted you?

It really has changed my life in a short period of time, even from the standpoint of stabilizing my fiscal life. I bought my son a bike recently. We’ve been camping twice. It’s the little things. Having the freedom to live life a little bit, that’s what this opportunity has afforded me.

When you show up for yourself, opportunities will meet you the rest of the way. This program met me the rest of the way. I’m a hard worker, but I know for a fact that I would not have this opportunity if I had not gone through the program. There’s no way I would have been able to make that connection [to Hogan]. I am so appreciative. I feel so blessed.

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