It can’t be easy veering off a career path and leaving behind the security of a well-established employer. Few would have the guts, the confidence or the motivation to go for it.
What it comes down to for Barbara Stokes is not throwing caution to the wind as much as following her heart and entrepreneurial spirit. Whether it’s tucking in her three kids at night or assuring families dealing with a disaster have a safe place to sleep, her priorities have aligned with the stars to benefit all. In deciding to be her own boss, she has found a way to nurture on many levels, from her own brilliant mind to the lives of complete strangers.
It is paying off by allowing her and Scott, her husband, to run a profitable, growing business that supports them, creates jobs in their Alabama company, and beyond. It makes lasting impacts and sets an example for others to follow.
From its Huntsville headquarters and manufacturing facilities, GSH of Alabama (GSH) reaches out to those in the most desperate need with temporary housing that can be erected within just a few days of delivery, often right in a displaced resident’s driveway. It can also provide temporary commercial structures to help businesses quickly reestablish themselves, preserving the economy, jobs and vital goods and services.
When disaster strikes, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is boots on the ground with expertise and resources. The Agency gets involved when the disaster overwhelms the local and state resources to effectively respond. Every situation is different, from the type of destruction to immediate and ongoing needs. Procedures need to be flexible and resources reliable. Count GSH among the latter. Stokes established GSH on the FEMA Register as a Disaster Relief Construction Contractor prepared to assist, upon request, during an emergency situation caused by natural disaster.
About a month after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas late last August, causing massive flooding, was on contract and engaged in support operations using its proven capabilities and rapid response to not just slap roofs over heads, but do it in a safe, sustainable way that keeps victims moving forward in their recovery.
We’re talking weeks, months, even years for homeowners to wade through the process of insurance claims, funding requests for the uninsured and reconstruction. Substandard housing and emergency shelters are not viable long-term options. Neither are expensive motels or rentals.
Much of the temporary housing GSH delivered on its $28.5 Million contract in March 2018 was directed by FEMA for Houston. The city was particularly hard hit, blamed in part on uncontrolled development in recent years. While the initial focus was on restoring commerce in the inner city, a massive number of outlying residential areas would initially see only the very basic of relief measures.
GSH takes on every step of the design to manufacturing process to exact specifications and takes it a big step further with its own ingenuity. One of the manufacturing aspects Stokes is most proud of are the fully automated fire suppression systems included in each MHU, or manufactured housing unit, as they say in the business.
The homes are wood- or steel-framed, energy-efficient, low-maintenance, code-compliant, made with high-quality materials and a bargain to insure, making them very affordable. The homes are mold, mildew and pest resistant and can be easily modified for accessibility, making them very livable. The interiors are configurable and include state-of-the-art kitchens and baths, making them very functional.
Consistent, standardized manufacturing by GSH means affordability and this is a huge win for the US taxpayer as they receive more value for the FEMA budget allocated.
Since these homes can often be erected on the homeowner’s property, impacts of relocation, such as jobs and schooling, can be reduced, neighborhood support systems can remain intact, and families can easily be a part of cleanup and rebuilding.
For communities rebuilding themselves, GSH hires from the local workforce , injecting a significant portion of the federal contract funding back into the local economy.
Extending its arc, to meet the demand of the FEMA contract, GSH built relationships with existing manufacturing facilities in seven additional states, significantly increasing its workforce and positively impacting those communities.
Stokes majored in biomedical engineering and physics at Mercer University in Georgia, where she added manufacturing, management, and structures of properties and materials to her studies, providing her the tools she would eventually need to be a successful entrepreneur. While working for Pisces Corporation and later, The Boeing Company, Stokes developed the expertise in government contracting procedures that gave GSH the a competitive edge that proved itself time and again, from contracts for bollards at Eglin Air Force Base to navigating the complexities of planning, engineering and permitting for large-scale construction.
Read more about Barbara Stokes at WDRB.com.
Both she and Scott, an engineer and former corporate pilot who is now GSH’s chief operations officer, began their venture, or adventure, about a decade ago, forming a general contracting company with a handful of employees. They set their sights primarily on-site development and construction for the government, landing projects for the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Missile Defense Agency, from lamp holders and storage tanks to passive and active energy capture, green communities and homes for military families.
While GSH is providing affordable, safe, and functional housing on contract, Stokes also works with disaster victims to make sure their paperwork is done correctly when applying for federal relief and following through with receipts and other documentation.
In short, working hand-in-hand with local, state and federal authorities to prevent disaster relief from becoming mired in paperwork and funding shortfalls, Stokes and GSH have raised the bar of integrity and efficiency. It is not “giving back,” but making giving fundamental.
Her workdays may be longer, and for most, that would undercut the quality of life. Not Stokes. It may take burning the midnight oil, but she manages to juggle a schedule that includes family time and volunteering in her own community.
Follow Barbara Stokes on facebook.com.
Barbara Stokes brings great leadership to Green Structure Homes (GSH) of Alabama, where she is CEO of the company that has been doing something pretty unique for nearly ten years .
Stokes graduated from Mercer University, where she majored in biomedical engineering and physics, as well as studying the subjects that are put into practice at GSH, including manufacturing and management, structures and properties of materials. She worked for Pisces Corporation and Boeing, where she acquired the expertise in government contracting that has allowed for such successful teamwork with FEMA.
In an around Huntsville, Alabama, and where GSH has worked on disaster relief efforts, permanent and long-term jobs have been created in skilled trades. Mrs. Stokes as also been keen on purchasing from local businesses whenever possible, which stimulates a region’s economy and job market. Benefitting from Stokes’ leadership and innovation include communities in Louisiana, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Minnesota.