Women in Construction
Profile: Cary’s Trenching, Sewer & Water
By Jay Koblun
By Jay Koblun
In helping run a successful trenching, sewer and water company, Marny Duncan-Cary says it’s all about showing your team you care about them and showing your team how you want to be treated.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated field is interesting and for me it comes down to teaching people how to treat us,” said Marny, managing partner of Cary’s Trenching, Sewer & Water. Trevor Cary is president of the company and Dale Hine is vice president.
“It’s important for any manager, male or female, to teach others how you want to be treated. Show people you deserve respect and respect comes,” she says. “I feel like I have great respect from my crew because they know I care for them.”
Cary’s Trenching, Sewer & Water started in 1976 by Reg Cary and Wayne Cary to meet Regina and southern Saskatchewan’s sewer and water needs. The company is based just outside Regina. Marny, her husband Trevor, and Dale have been with the business for 24 years now.
“I came to Cary’s Trenching by default when my husband, Dale, and I purchased the company from my father-in-law in 1996. Somebody needed to do the books, and that was the girl—so that’s how I started,” says Marny. “Everything was manual when we started. We wrote out cheques, payables, wrote out the invoices, we handwrote everything.”
The company’s managing partner says part of her job early on was moving everything to computers. And then she took on the role of safety officer.
“Our safety policies needed to be further developed. I became a health and safety officer, and now I run the safety programs. I’ve got the guys on track when it comes to safety.”
Part of Marny’s everyday tasks now include; inspections, yearly audits, and safety reporting. She has also come to see the importance in having an active presence on social media.
“In the last five years I’ve realized how important it is to be on social media and I’m helping as much as I can with that,” she says. “We have a great website, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, and I’m learning more about how marketing works and how to market your company through social media, which I find quite fun. I like that side of the job.”
Marny is taking an online digital marketing course and said although it comes with a steep learning curve, she is excited to do it because she knows how much it will help the company in the long run.
“It’s important to be aware of recent trends and what our customers are into and looking for and to be a relevant company in such a digital world,” she says. “That’s been a focus lately, maintaining a presence online.”
The business is based on an acreage and Marny lives on the property.
“We have 10 acres, with a huge 4,000 square-foot shop, and I’ve always had an office at home. Considering the current situation and COVID-19, it’s worked out in my favour because things have remained mostly business as usual for me,” she said. “We’ve made several changes and guidelines at the shop and how we conduct business though.”
Marny says she loves the freedom her position gives her, yet would also say one thing she dislikes about her job is that she’s always on, or always thinking the business.
“I love the freedom that it gives me. I like that I am in charge of being my own boss and I create my schedule. I can work at night if I need to, or work in the morning, and then finish whatever else needs to get done. I like the flexibility. Something I don’t love is just how often I’m thinking about work, or always feeling the need to be on mentally.”
As an executive, Marny says it’s important to be a positive influence for her team.
“I try to bring positive thinking. I like to be an up-lifter for our team. Our line of work is a journey and there’s bound to be ups and downs,” she says. “I want everybody to know that I’m there for support, whether it’s a private conversation, whether they need new work boots, or vest, or whatever they might need. I guess matriarch comes to my mind—I want to take really good care of my people, love them up.”
Marny has many friends and family members to thank for all playing a part in the success of Cary’s Trenching, Sewer & Water but said her friend Frances Olson is a woman she looks up to as a female leader.
“I have a mentor, Frances Olson. She’s 92. She was first female realtor in Saskatchewan and she had an all-female real estate team,” she says. “She was a woman in the ‘60s and ’70s starting in a male-dominated field for sure, and she was a classy, well-respected, successful woman and what she did is amazing—she’s a friend of mine and has really encouraged me.”
Marny’s advice to the next generation of female leaders is to go for it.
“Be fantastic at what you do. Over deliver,” Marny Duncan-Cary.
“If it’s something you feel drawn to, or driven towards, go for it. Have fun, always have fun. Respect yourself. Make sure you’re really drawn to it. Something in your heart has to spark.