W100 ranking #1
President,Belvedere PlaceDevelopment, a B.C.civil-construction company
2011 revenue:$25–$50 million, aneightfold increasefrom 2008
Employees:Eight full-time, 58 part-time
Why we love her:Because she juggled three kidsand gruelling cancertreatments while building amulti-million-dollar company.
Kelsey Ramsden believes in beingnimble and taking risks. Those aretraits you need if you’re going to starta civil-construction company fresh outof business school. “Being 28 and agirl owning a company in this industryis not normal. But I know how to buildroads.” And does she: She started inthe family biz at 14 as a flag girl onthe Alaska Highway. “When you’rethe boss’ kid, you have to outworkeverybody to get respect. And I liketo work hard.”
So in 2004, she started taking smalljobs in Kelowna, B.C., to break into thebusiness and start building a crew.Today, she’s getting contracts worthupwards of $30 million. And all thiswhile commuting across the country:In 2009, she moved to London, Ont.,so her husband could run his family’sfoundry business. While expectingtheir third child last year, Kelseyestablished a management team tobe on the ground in British Columbiaso she could run the business fromLondon and visit less frequently.Fortunately the team was in placewhen, two months after her son’sbirth, Kelsey was diagnosed witha rare form of aggressive cervicalcancer. “Nobody wavered or lookedfor other work. They stuck right withme.” Today, Kelsey is feeling strongerthan ever. “I just do my best andpivot with the circumstances.”
“I have greatmentors — old boys who will answerthe phone and give me advice.”
“I’m candidinterviewing applicants. I say,‘I expect from you what I expectout of myself.’”
“I took on apartner for a project who I didn’t knowvery well. That was a huge mistake.We are still fighting it out legally.”
“I’m not beyond takingoff my heels and putting my bootson and getting out there and workingwith the guys.”
Driving onone of the roads she’s built.
For a full list of Canada's top 100 female entrepreneurs, click here.