People on the Move: Tina Brogdon

Tina Brogdon has been promoted to Project Coordinator. She works in the EMJ Construction office in Chattanooga.

This upcoming September will mark Tina’s 15th year with EMJ and in the construction world.

“Tina has always been a key part of the success of the Chattanooga Admin Department and I know she is ready to take on the challenge of her new role as Project Coordinator,” said Andrea Boatman, Office Manager of the Chattanooga office. She has a passion to help those around her and will do whatever she can to make EMJ successful.  Tina will use the vast knowledge she has acquired during her 15 years at EMJ to help make the Project Coordinator a vital part of the Project Team.

“My favorite part of construction is getting to see the pieces come together as something is built. I love to watch that process,” says Tina.

When Tina isn’t working, she loves to sew, read, participate in community theater and be a ‘Volunteer Cuddler’ in the NICU at Hamilton Medical Center. However, her favorite pastime is playing with her grandkids.

Congratulations, Tina!

People on the Move: Priscilla Harrell

Priscilla Harrell has been promoted to Project Coordinator. She works in the EMJ Construction office in Chattanooga.

Priscilla has been with EMJ for over six years. Prior to working at EMJ and in the construction world, she worked for the Marine Corps and Air Force in Georgia, Florida, and Ohio as a Department of Defense civilian, holding many different positions.

“Priscilla loves to learn new things and has always shown interest in learning all she can about the construction business and how she can put her skills to work to help those she supports. The Project Coordinator role will be a perfect fit for her,” said Andrea Boatman, Office Manager of the Chattanooga office. “Priscilla is always ready to go above and beyond to help in any way she can. I am excited to see her get the opportunity to use her talent and skills in her new position.”

“I love being in Chattanooga, and I love that in construction there’s something new to learn every day,” says Priscilla.

In her spare time, Priscilla likes to read and listen to music.

Congratulations, Priscilla!

Fitness Challenge Produces Healthy Lifestyles

At EMJ, we are more than the work we do. We value our people, above all else, and strive to invest in our people and work together effectively as one team.

There are many ways to do that, including friendly office team competition. This, together with the spirit of promoting both healthy competition and lifestyles, is how the People Department created the 2019 Fitness Challenge.

The Fitness Challenge of 2019 was a 3-month challenge that ran January 14 – April 15. EMJ gave a $500 cash prize for both the winning team and each male and female top performer, all based on percentage of weight lost. There were also individual and team prizes for exercise minutes.

While the challenge was definitely a success in promoting healthy lifestyles and building teamwork, it was also the beginning of an incredible fitness journey for some, especially the Dallas Office female winner, Suzanna Trent.

In addition to crushing her competition and helping her team place 3rd, she transformed her lifestyle, allowing her to continue to lose weight even several months after the competition had ended.

We sat down with Suzanna to discuss the details of her motivation, progress, and goals thus far in this journey, which are found in the following Q&A.

What was your motivation for joining the EMJ Fitness Challenge this past year?

Peer pressure. Matt Connors kept trying to convince me to do it. Eventually a few of my co-workers said they would sign up if I did, so I finally gave in. There were several times over the following Christmas break that I debated e-mailing in to say I’d changed my mind, but I didn’t want to go back on my word. Then, once the teams were assigned, I knew I couldn’t let my team down. I was determined to pull my weight — or in this case, lose it.

A few weeks into the challenge, during a meeting, the stats of the leader board were being read and I was starting to move up in the rankings. Nicole Gaiser, our VP of People, commented that she thought she had first place in the bag, but that I was now giving her a run for her money. Beating her then became my new motivation! Once the challenge was over though, I felt so great that I wanted to keep going.

What has been your overall progress?

As of this morning, I have lost 120lbs. and 10 pant sizes! I initially weighed in at 280lbs and I am now down to 160lbs.

How have you gone about losing the weight?

I started a WeightWatchers program and eat a lot of “zero point” foods like chicken, fish, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables. I also began to meal plan and prep my meals and snacks ahead of time –grapes are my go-to snack, I love me some fruit!

I cut out anything with added sugar as well, but I allow myself to splurge every now and then on some cookies and cream ice cream. The key has been getting right back on track. I also started walking eight minutes a day. It was so hard at first just to walk for a few minutes, but I slowly built up my endurance over time. Now, I am jogging for at least an hour every day!

Did you have any goals when you started the Fitness Challenge? Any long-term goals for yourself now?

My only goal when I started the challenge was not to let my team down. Now, my goal is to weigh in at 150lbs on the one-year mark, January 14, 2020. After that, I just want to maintain a healthy weight and continue living a healthy lifestyle. I have never felt better than I do now! I have had so many cheerleaders who have encouraged me along the way, and I am so thankful for the support of my EMJ family!

What would you say to people who are struggling with their weight and motivation?

Make small changes, like parking farther away from work, the grocery store, when running errands, etc. Take the stairs; even if it is one flight a day, it all adds up. Make small weight loss goals. Take baby steps and never look too far ahead.

Be proud when you meet your goals. If you don’t meet your goals (and there will be times you fall short) don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to splurge every now and then, but get right back on the wagon after you do. Know that you are worth every part of this journey and love yourself through it! Last but not least, remember that “healthy” is a goal, not a number. Every bit you are doing matters, and you are good enough!

“We had no idea how much buy-in or what the lasting impact would be when we initially introduced the fitness challenge. It was fun to see the camaraderie and friendly banter amongst co-workers throughout the duration of the challenge. Between both the Dallas and Chattanooga offices we had over 1,000lbs lost and 225,325 exercise minutes logged, so we are excited to see the how the bar will be raised in the 2020 Fitness Challenge,” says Nicole Gaiser, our Vice President of People.

EMJ is planning a second annual fitness challenge. Suzanna hasn’t decided if she’s going to participate, but you can bet she’ll be there cheering her fellow employees on, the EMJ way.

Suzanna (before)
Suzanna (after)

EMJ Construction and Signal Energy Attend the Auburn University Career Fair

EMJ Construction and Signal Energy are attending the Building Science Fall Career Fair at Auburn University. The fair is on Wednesday, October 16, and is  sponsored by the College of Architecture, Design and Construction Building Science.

EMJ Construction and Signal Energy are attending the Building Science Fall Career Fair at Auburn University. The fair is on Wednesday, October 16, and is  sponsored by the College of Architecture, Design and Construction Building Science.

This year’s expo includes two events over the span of two days. The Career Fair will be at the Harbert Family Recruiting Center at Jordan-Hare Stadium from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Interview Day will take place the following morning on Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Signal Energy will be at table #23 and EMJ Construction will be at table #24. Stop by to learn about your new career!

Diverse career path leads Pfeiffer to EMJ

EMJ’s people are the building blocks of the company. Their personalities, skills and past experiences are large parts of what make the company great. We are proud of each member of the team and enjoy sharing their stories.

EMJ Construction Project Manager Anita Pfeiffer found success in many different arenas before finding a home at EMJ Corporation.

Born and raised in Allentown, Pa., Pfeiffer began exploring different career options while attending Cedar Crest College in her hometown.

She worked for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial gases, and then as a paralegal at a law firm in New York. After a couple of years in the legal field, Pfeiffer decided to pursue a new challenge and enter the retail industry.

Pfeiffer worked as a district manager for a number of years, then transitioned to the restaurant business, where she worked with a private owner to manage numerous locations.

She began noticing that her responsibilities in the retail and restaurant industries aligned closely with the responsibilities associated with a career in construction.

“In both industries, I worked closely with the general contractor to ensure stores would be ready for timely turnover,” Pfeiffer said. “The responsibilities were extremely similar, which made the transition to construction a smooth one.”

With the help of her brother, EMJ Lead Superintendent Greg Pfeuffer, she dove into a construction career. After gaining nine years of experience as a superintendent, she joined EMJ as a Project Manager in November 2014. She says EMJ presented a perfect opportunity to utilize her combined skills that she’d gained from years in other industries.

“I enjoy the empowerment and autonomy that I am granted in order to get my job done,” Anita says. “I love having numerous balls in the air and at the end of the day or week feel success through the dedication and collaboration of the team.”

From a young age, Pfeiffer was inspired by her mother, Alice Pfeiffer, who instilled in her the values she carries with her today.

“She was always concerned about others, and she led by example,” Pfeiffer said. “She taught me to be dedicated, determined, responsible, trustworthy, and courageous in her own way.”

Pfeiffer has followed in her mother’s footsteps, leading by example to her colleagues at EMJ. She was recently awarded a Jolley for Outstanding Performance, the corporation’s highest honor for an individual employee, at EMJ’s 50th anniversary meeting.

Pfeiffer sees many great opportunities in her role, but specifically appreciates the chance to craft and mentor the next generation.

“Nothing is more rewarding than helping those around you achieve success,” Pfeiffer said. “All my success has stemmed from the tremendous people around me, so it’s nice to return the favor to future generations.”


Related articles:

Employees honored for Outstanding Performance

Grit: The key to 50 years of progress


Who is successful and why?

Angela Lee Duckworth spent over a decade investigating this query among various groups, from West Point cadets to middle school spelling bee champions, and she discovered the common thread between high-achievers is their grit.

Duckworth speaks on her research in this TED Talk.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” Duckworth says.

In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Duckworth recounts how various studies and interviews with successful people led her to three components of gritty people: having a purpose in life, being willing to work hard for it, and having resilience when faced with setbacks.


Grit, one of EMJ’s core values and a defining trait in founder Edgar M. Jolley, is a large reason the corporation is celebrating 50 years of service this year.


Jim Self, former Superintendent and Vice President of Construction at EMJ, who worked closely with Jolley, said, “When we started a project, we knew when we had to finish it…and we did whatever it took to accomplish that.”1

Empowered by our purpose to be “people serving people,” the emphasis on working hard to meet commitments remains at EMJ and continues to help our team build strong relationships with clients and partners across the U.S.



“Whether it’s analyzing drawings to identify cost savings for a client or staying up all night to oversee a concrete pour, I see our people going above and beyond every day to serve our clients,” says Doug Martin, President of EMJ Construction.

We recognize and celebrate wins, but we also embrace a culture of growth and persevering through challenges. We promote transparency about issues and lessons learned on projects, improving quality and efficiency on current projects throughout the family of companies.

“I could tell you a story about my first year in construction 36 years ago, when I was working as a project engineer and made such a huge mistake, I should’ve been fired,” says Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation. “Fortunately, my manager gave me grace. I learned from my error and corrected course. I tell that story to new employees as a lesson to never give up…and don’t forget to double-check your spec book.”

Success isn’t about being the smartest or most talented person in the room. Further, grit empowers anyone with drive to be successful, as long as they are willing to work for it and persevere through difficult circumstances.

Watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s full TED Talk here.



1 – EMJ Corporation: The First 50 Years (Bookhouse Group, Inc., 2018) 10.

VIDEO: EMJ leaders discuss servant leadership

EMJ President Burt Odom and Chief Operating Officer Doug Martin discuss the importance of mentors throughout their careers and what makes EMJ a leader in the construction industry—its people.

EMJ works to distinguish itself from other general contractors by its dedication to creating a culture of servant leadership and mentorship.

Though servant leadership can be defined in many ways, at EMJ, the term means that servant leaders put others’ needs ahead of their own. EMJ believes that servant leadership ensures that each employee within the family of companies works toward its goal of “growing together.”

Servant leadership is closely tied to mentorship, as both are essential to EMJ’s ultimate success through fulfilling clients’ needs and reaching our maximum potential.

Mentors continually offer guidance, support and feedback to their mentees, who develop into the next generation of leaders.

EMJ’s Mentoring Program creates relationships within all levels of the company in order to identify “blind spots,” which resolve problems and push mentees toward success. From one-on-one mentoring to group mentoring sessions, EMJ is dedicated to the growth and progress of each and every employee.

EMJ team members care about each other and the clients they collectively serve, showing “we are only as good as our people.”

To learn more about Working at EMJ and our Career-4-Life objective and programs, click here.