As a woman of color in two heavily male-dominated industries, Maranda Adams is a unicorn in every sense of the word. But ever since moving to Omaha from her native Texas in 2017, the MBJ 40 Under 40 honoree has been changing the face of real estate and construction in the city.
“There’s not a lot of women in the industry. There are definitely not a lot of women of color in the industry,” she said. “So, when there was an opportunity to start our construction company it was a no-brainer. It was like, ‘This is what we need to be doing. We need to be here, representing this space.’”
Adams’ company – Blair Freeman Group – is about as unique in the industry as can be: the only Class A Contractor in Nebraska that’s fully woman- and minority-owned.
Even the name of the company, which Adams launched with college friend Ashley Kuhn, is a sly nod to girl power, being a combination of the duo’s maiden names.
But, when it comes to getting business done, the only thing that separates Adams from her competitors is her work ethic and drive to succeed.
“Blair Freeman came about from a challenging [construction] project that my husband and I had. It was a snow cone shop. It was a commercial project,” Adams said. “That one gave us headaches and challenges that we had to figure out and had to navigate.
“It was a project that we felt didn’t need to be as challenging as it did. We felt that there were things that could have been done differently, that there could have been help navigating the process, just so many things that a lot of projects run into.”
Adams grew up in Houston where her career started in banking and finance. In 2010, she started a real estate investment company with her husband, Titus, and seven years later the couple moved back to his hometown, Omaha, after being stranded by Hurricane Harvey.
“Our original intention was to move, start a local snow cone business, be here for the summers, enjoy our Omaha family and then go back to nice warm Houston,” she said. “The whole time we were here for the summer, friends and family were like, ‘Stay, stay, stay!’ We were like, ‘Nope. It’s going to get cold here soon. We’ve got to go.’ The day we were to leave, Hurricane Harvey hit.”
“We are firm believers that God was like, ‘This is your season to be in Omaha. Just wait for what I have in store for you.’”
Investing in Others
That faith was rewarded with a massive project out of the gate for Blair Freeman, and the company hasn’t looked back since. Each day, the company is committed not only to building structures, but building lives as well.
“As an entrepreneur you always feel pressure, right? You’re not only supporting your family, but you have employees, you have people who are depending on you. You have so many things,” she said. “We always feel pressure to make sure that we’re performing to the best of our ability, knowing we have a great team of people surrounding us.
“So now one of the biggest things we do is we build people’s capacity. We don’t have any intention of anybody coming to work with us and not growing, learning or building their own capacity. That’s one of the biggest things, because somebody did that for us.
Somebody took the opportunity to teach and to build us up. We think that it’s only fair to reach back and make sure that our employees are afforded that same opportunity.”