Barbara Myrick’s father couldn’t read, but as a builder, he could understand blueprints. He never had the opportunity to start his own business, but today, as president of B&M Construction, Barbara’s the builder, keeping track of schedules, expenses and managing projects. She’s also mentoring her employees and understands how construction work gives so many people second chances. “All of us make mistakes,” she says, but some “just didn’t get caught.”
Myrick had six brothers, among 12 siblings in total, and it seemed preordained that they would find success with their father in horizontal construction — but none of them stuck. As an air traffic controller in the United States Army, Myrick got orders to Colorado Springs, where her kids would grow up and graduate. Here she got licensed to handle concrete, renovated her own home and started a company in 1994 doing residential foundations. A neighbor advised her to get her Small Business Association 8(a) Certification, which she did in 2005, as well as her Woman-Owned Small Business and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business certifications, among many others, allowing her to win a $24 million contract to relocate Fort Carson’s Specker-Titus intersection the following year.
Having served in the military and lived on military bases, Myrick finds satisfaction in being able to work on both bases and Veterans Affairs facilities. “To go back and help make sure that their pharmacy is up to standard, or they have break areas for the nurses, and they have sleep apnea areas to figure out why people aren’t sleeping… to help vets move forward in life is just a huge satisfaction,” she said.
But some lessons about how to best serve the community came hard. As a kid, Myrick dreamed of becoming a doctor and serving in communities where money and help weren’t plentiful. Her uncle offered to pay for medical school if she graduated high school with good grades. He passed away before she graduated, but the money was never willed to her, Myrick said, and her aunt declined to fund her education. “I still see communities that really don’t have access,” to medical care, she said, “and I see that it’s been acknowledged now that the way doctors treat people of color is different than how they treat the white population.”
In the early ‘90s, she saw racism up close in Colorado Springs when a general contractor chose not to pay her for her work as a Black company owner, a $250,000 job that set her company back 4-5 years financially. She also learned to pick her battles. “I went to open a home daycare and I went down to the city planner and the guy said, ‘I don’t know why they let you people do this out of your homes.’ And I said on that day, ‘OK, today’s not the day and you’re not the person.’”
Myrick has also become known in the community for her volunteer work and advocacy. She currently serves as the chairwoman for the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and was an appointee under former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to the Colorado State Electrical Board and the Colorado Minority Business Advisory Council. She also encourages minority girls to join the Girl Scouts and is working to get the local Girl Scouts to join the SCWCC. Myrick also has sought to employ her expertise in construction to assist El Paso County in building affordable housing.
Myrick has successfully led her businesses through three economic downturns by working with the communities she builds in, by building with integrity, and working with local chambers of commerce. She’s proud of her work at Denver International Airport and with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but she takes particular pride in building low-income housing and giving people new opportunities. “Let’s help one another,” she said. “That’s what we were created for: to help one another. I think if we can get past ourselves and our biases, beyond ourselves, we would do more for others.”
For 18 years, the Colorado Springs Business Journal has highlighted women who have gone the extra mile for work, for community, for the greater good.