Building the Future for Women in Construction

posted on Monday, March 4, 2024 in Dealer News

Martin Equipment paves the way with WBENC certification and female president DeLene Martin Bane

The construction industry has a long history of being a male-dominated field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately only 14 percent of construction workers in 2022 were female. When it comes to leadership positions, that number is even less, around 7 percent.

DeLene Martin BaneDeLene Martin Bane, president and owner of Martin Equipment, is one of the people who defy those statistics while working to ensure the number of women in the construction industry grows.

“I’m constantly thinking about how we can make the industry more attractive so we can bring more females into the workforce,” Martin Bane said. “There's so many different careers you can pursue and so many different skill sets needed in our industry.”

As the leader of a fourth-generation family company, Martin Bane has battled her fair share of stigma as she rose as a leader within the company and eventually became president and owner. That’s why she believes recognizing Women in Construction Week – celebrated annually during the first full week in March – is so important.

“We need to showcase the industry and the successful women in it,” Martin Bane said. “I want more women to recognize how viable a career in the construction industry can be, and part of raising awareness starts with bringing this topic to the table.”


Founded in 1926, the John Deere dealership was led by Martin Bane’s great grandfather, then her grandfather, father and now, her.

“Obviously, it’s a family company. I’m the first grandchild of my generation, and I’ve found there’s a misconception that you can just have a dealership handed down to you,” Martin Bane said. “Being the first in line can only get you so far. I know the work I’ve put in to get where I am today, and hope that the people I’ve worked with along the way respect me for that and acknowledge that.”

Martin Bane spent time outside of the family business working in human resources before returning to the dealership. She began working on the HR side and then started learning product support and operations. Now, she’s leading the company into the next generation.

While she may be the first official Martin Equipment leader in title, she noted that the women in her family have always had a large presence and influence within the company.

“My mother, grandmother and great grandmother were always helping guide the company,” Martin Bane said. “Women have been and will continue to be an integral part of the Martin Equipment story.”

Martin Bane believes that the power of your hard work largely speaks for itself.

“As long as you know your worth and what you bring to the table, a majority of the people will recognize it,” Martin Bane said. “You have to be confident in your abilities. The work will speak for itself.”

Martin Bane’s positive nature rings through, even when faced with the challenges that come with being a female in a male-dominated industry.

“It doesn’t hurt to be able to laugh stuff off, too,” she said.


DeLene Martin Bane talking with coworkerAs women have always been a cornerstone of Martin Equipment, the dealership took formal steps to become WBENC-certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise in 2020.

This certification validates that a business is at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated and managed by a woman or women. This means one or more women must have unrestricted control of the business, a demonstrated management of day-to-day operations, and a proportionate investment of capital or expertise.

“Earning our WBENC certification is something we’re very proud of,” Martin Bane said. “It was a thorough process, and I hope the certification shows other women in the industry that our company is a welcoming place to grow their careers. Overall, it’s a positive thing to show females are leading in the industry.”

When thinking about growing a career within a dealership or the construction industry as a whole, the opportunities are limitless.

“No matter your background or area of expertise, there are so many different career paths to pursue and enjoy in the construction industry,” Martin Bane said. “In our dealership, it’s not just about the equipment, it takes all different roles from marketing to product support, to administrative, sales, IT, HR, etc. to ensure we are a strong partner to our customers.”


While women still hold a small percentage within the construction industry, it’s important to note that progress has been made. Martin Bane believes in a positive outlook and has found inspiration in mentorship over her career.

“I think finding mentors in your life, those cheerleaders who know your worth, is so important whether they’re male or female,” Martin Bane said. “I was lucky to have that across my career in many people.”

Martin Bane had the ultimate “aha” moment when she had a conversation with Sam Allen, who at the time, was the CEO of John Deere.

“Sometimes it takes someone else to point out your success, to really have it sink in,” Martin Bane said. “My dad is an action speaks louder than words kind of guy. And our family has typically operated along the lines of, if you hear nothing, you’re likely doing a good job. I remember being at a corporate John Deere event and mentioning that my dad was spending more time in Florida during a conversation with Sam Allen. Sam looked at me, raised his glass, and congratulated me, saying that it meant my dad had the confidence in me to run the business. That really struck me, and I still get choked up thinking about it today.”

When Martin Bane thinks about the next generation of women and herself being their example of success, it still feels a bit surreal. She takes it in stride as she pours her focus into the service of her customers and the care of her employees. Still, the weight of being the first woman to lead the company in a historically male dominated field is not lost on her.

“There’s a lot of pride in being the first female to lead the company, but there’s even more pride in my family entrusting me to take over the family business, regardless of being male or female,” Martin Bane said. “I watched our female workforce at Martin Equipment and the industry as a whole evolve throughout my career. I’m hoping that this example can show younger generations that there’s no real boundaries to what they can do.”