The article originally appeared on May 23, 2024 in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s (MBJ) Executive Profile section. It was written by Teddy Nykiel with the photo taken by Kenny Yoo of MBJ. Read the full article here. >>

Corie Foley of ARCO/Murray Milwaukee with Photo Taken by Kenny Yoo of the Milwaukee Business Journal

Corie Foley is a prime example of a workforce strategy in action for the national design-build contractor ARCO/Murray.

The firm’s growth to dozens of U.S. offices to support thousands of projects over the last three decades has been organic, according to the company’s CEO, following a strategy of hiring fresh-out-of-college engineers, training them up and providing the opportunity for them to bring the company’s design-build solution back to their home market.

Foley followed that path precisely. She has been with ARCO/Murray for her entire professional career since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison nine years ago. After several years of working her way up within the company out of its Chicago office, she was tapped to lead the charge in establishing the firm’s first Milwaukee location. It opened in March 2023, allowing Foley and her husband to move back to Wisconsin, where she was born and raised.

“The opening of the office was a long play — it was very intentional,” Foley said. “We were probably planning, strategizing (and) discussing for at least a year, if not two years, prior to the actual, physical move.”

But the 32-year-old stands out for more than her rise to leadership within ARCO/Murray at a relatively young age. She also has a passion for mentoring other women in the construction industry both internally and in the community.

Foley is the national spearhead for ARCO/Murray’s annual Women in Construction events, which occur in multiple U.S. cities to highlight and support the firm’s industry partners, including architects, engineers, construction managers and subcontractors. She also started an internal women’s affinity group that meets monthly and takes an annual trip to spur mentorship and camaraderie, according to the company.

“She started taking on kind of a pivotal role of mentoring some of the other women who joined our business,” said ARCO/Murray CEO Brad Dannegger. “It’s really wonderful to see her take such a leadership role in that, just giving them mentorship, a sounding board, somebody that they can count on as they’re navigating an industry that doesn’t have as many women as I think we would all like to see.”

Women represent just 14% of the construction workforce, according to ARCO/Murray, and Foley strives to create support systems for other women in the industry.

“I’ve had an overall good, positive experience, but at the same time, I definitely had that recognition pretty early on of, ‘There’s gender bias here,'” Foley said. “That whole experience for myself just motivates me now to figure out, how do I help have that not happen to the next woman who is looking at construction as a career?”

A little over a year after opening the firm’s Milwaukee office, Foley has hired a business development manager, Kelly Beck, and is looking to hire a project manager. Her team receives additional support from ARCO/Murray associates in Chicago and elsewhere.

“This last year has just really been a lot of relationship building … and being able to really showcase our model in the market,” Foley said.

As a design-build contractor, ARCO/Murray presents clients with cost information upfront to help inform decision-making throughout the design process — a practice the company calls “dollarizing your decisions,” Foley said.

Nationally, ARCO/Murray works on all types of projects, including office, retail, multifamily and industrial, across industries ranging from agriculture to entertainment. The firm builds Topgolf locations across the country, for instance, Foley said.

Projects out of the firm’s Milwaukee office also run the gamut, although a large initial focus has been in industrial manufacturing, Foley said. The firm is working on a 337,000-square-foot distribution hangar near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, for instance.

“Our ideal client type is a national, repeatable customer,” Foley said.

Other clients include the Expansive coworking company and multiple laundry facilities, Foley said. In a community-driven project, ARCO/Murray is also designing two new exhibits set to open to the public next month for Milwaukee’s War Memorial Center.

As it continues to expand its Milwaukee presence, ARCO/Murray could outgrow its current office at 250 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee by the end of the year, Foley said.

“Corie is the type of person you want to go to when you need to get something done,” Dannegger said. “We’re very excited and fortunate to have her leading the charge in Milwaukee.”

In the community, Foley is involved with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build, a female-focused fundraising and volunteering homeownership initiative for the organization. After participating in the Chicago effort multiple times, Foley said she immediately signed up for Milwaukee Women Build after moving to the city last year.

“I don’t swing hammers on a daily basis, so being able to actually go out and do that is fun,” Foley said. “It’s meaningful.”

About Corie Foley

  • Title: Vice president and head of the company’s Milwaukee office
  • Company: ARCO/Murray
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Hometown: Menomonee Falls 
  • Residence: Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee
  • Advice for other women in construction: “Be unapologetically you.”

Milwaukee Contact Us