Pa. woman comes out of retirement to build job opportunities

UPLAND, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "When you give people an opportunity, you'll be surprised at how good and how hard they will work," said Mary Lopez.

Lopez took advantage of an opportunity to work for State Farm Insurance for 42 years. But later in her tenure, she was transferred from workers compensation to homeowner's insurance.

"It worked out because I had to learn the industry," she said.

That experience made her ready for her next adventure after retirement.

"I was retired and my son, he said that they need minority business owners. He said, why don't you start your own construction company?" Lopez recalled.

She founded Anson Construction LLC in 2017, which she named after her hard-working father. The company is mostly contracted to perform flagging and demolition.

"The first year it was very, very hard just getting out there. Getting people used to working with a woman," she said. "You know, in this industry, you don't see many women. So, they didn't take it as serious."

Still, Lopez kept building her business. She became well-versed in the field and harnessed an arsenal of trustworthy employees. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into her toolkit.

Lopez used a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program to keep her workers employed and even hired new ones. For example, Bill Gates lost his job for several months when his refinery temporarily closed. He found a new job at Anson Construction as a laborer.

"It's not an easy job, but somebody's got to do it and she pays me well to do it," said Gates. "I just got to do my part so I can take care of my family and she gave me that opportunity."

Lopez hopes to continue constructing opportunities for the community to find work. In the future, she plans to leave a legacy for her growing family.

"I hope for the future that my kids and my grandkids can take over the business," she said. "And I hope it does inspire a lot of women."

To learn more about Anson Construction LLC, visit their website.

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