This pile driving company vice president says what she truly enjoys most about the industry is the variety of people and type and size of projects.
By Lisa Kopochinski
PDCA 2018 Issue 4 Young Guns
Who says exes can’t remain friendly, even run a business together and be successful?
Just ask Kena Yoke, vice president of Island Piling Inc., a pile driving company in Naples, Florida that services the Southwest Florida market installing residential and commercial foundation piling.
“I’ve been learning on a daily basis for the past 32 years,” says Yoke, who is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, and has a degree in art from Tampa Technical Institute.
“I married into the industry, when that didn’t work out, we decided to stay business partners. It’s a win-win.”
Still, she wouldn’t trade her career in the deep foundation industry for anything.
“Pile driving is a highly niche market in the Southwest Florida area,” Yoke says. “Thirty two years ago, there were quite a few pile driving companies, but we have managed to survive and thrive in the past three decades, making adjustments as necessary to improve our services, products and client experience. We have stayed true to the driven pile, while others have expanded their services into helical piles and auger cast piles.”
Yoke says what she truly enjoys most is the variety of people and type and size of projects.
“We have worked on extremely high-end residential and condominium projects to little retirement homes on the islands. Each project and client has its own personality and dynamics.”
Having such a vast history in the Southwest Florida market offers Island Piling a unique ability to guide clients based on previous projects and offer alternatives to better meet their needs.
“We have the unique benefit of working with a seasoned group of structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, surveyors, masons and pool professionals,” she explains. “Having these relationships in place allows us the opportunity to go right to a team member if a client needs assistance on a project. These relationships also provide a direct line to working through issues in the field as they occur, helping to keep a project moving forward.”
Choosing not to dilute its services, but rather define them, Yoke says when other types of piles are needed, Island Piling has been happy to refer clients to those in the community that provide a specific pile need.
“We also have the opportunity, when necessary, to combine our services with other types of pile installations to meet the specific needs of a project,” she adds.
Yoke manages the in-house administrative tasks for the company including proposals, contracts, support services, project coordination, client relations, community involvement and more.
“I enjoy assisting our clients—both new and old—in getting their projects put together and into production as seamlessly as possible,” she says. “I work very closely with each client to coordinate their project with other team members to get it into the field. Once in the field, our relationship with the engineers gives me to opportunity to handle issues with a quick phone call and email. This keeps the projects from stalling and avoids any unnecessary delays.”
Island Piling is also the only pile driving company in the area with certified operators and certified cranes, which are inspected annually by an OSHA certified inspector. The company has also been recognized by National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators for its commitment to safety in the industry. NCCCO is a nonprofit organization formed 1995 with a mission to develop effective performance standards for safe crane operation to assist all segments of general industry and construction.
When asked who she attributes her success to, Yoke says it is her parents—who always supported her ideas and encouraged her to push the envelope—and her ex-husband and partner Scott Yoke, who has managed the “field and all its unique issues” from the beginning.
“It’s a wonderful partnership where we support the each other’s ideas to grow our company and work together to make them succeed. This relationship allows Island Piling and our employees to continue reaching higher goals and succeeding. I also have the continued opportunity to work with so many great people in this business and in the community who have offered guidance, wisdom and support. I truly believe the better your circle, the more you strive to succeed.”
A PDCA member for 10 years, Yoke stresses the importance of letting the industry know there are prestressed pile driving companies providing the services they need in a professional capacity in Florida.
“Being a highly niche industry, it is important to band together. Our goal has always been—and will continue to be—setting the standards in safety and performance for the industry in our geographical area. We’re always looking for new ideas in technology and products to better serve our clients and the environmentally sensitive community in which we live.”
While Yoke has achieved a lot of success in the piling industry, she says the construction industry continues to be known as a “man’s world.”
“I still get the phone calls where they just don’t want to talk to me simply because I’m a woman. But once we get past the initial push, it works out. The clients who rely on me far outweigh the doubters. There are some great guys out there, so I’m grateful that they keep me on my toes, even if those toes are in heels.”
Island Piling, Inc. Recognized for Their Commitment to Crane Safety.
(March 17, 2016– Naples, Florida) Island Piling, Inc. was commended today by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) as having demonstrated its commitment to safety by hiring CCO-Certified personnel. By participating in NCCCO’s Committed to Crane Safety Program(s) Island Piling, Inc. demonstrates that it strives for excellence in its hiring and training efforts and works hard to earn, maintain and protect its safety reputation in the industry.
Crane Operators receive recognition for their knowledge and skill related to safe crane operations whey they are issued a CCO Certification. Island Piling, Inc. has also expended time, effort and resources to obtain certification for its Crane Operators and NCCCO recognizes this commitment to safety through its Committed to Safety Programs.
“NCCCO’s Committed to Crane Safety program is a means for safety-conscious employers such as Island Piling, Inc. to show their clients, potential clients and employees that they are serious about crane safety and that they have taken the proactive steps to ensure that their employees have the knowledge and skills to perform their assigned job duties safely.” Said NCCCO Executive Director Graham Brent. “NCCCO is delighted to welcome Island Piling, Inc. into this pre-eminent group of companies who have distinguished themselves in their dedication to crane safety through their commitment to professional training and CCO certification.” he said.
Island Piling Inc.’s participation in the Committed to Crane Safety Program(s) bring with it significant ways for Island Piling, Inc. to differentiate itself. Island Piling, Inc. now has the rights to use the exclusive CCO “Proudly Employing” logo(s) in its promotional literature, advertising, and media releases.
Kena Yoke, Vice President states: “This recognition further endorses why we only employ Certified Operators and run Certified Cranes. Our Commitment to Safety and Education matter and it shows. ”
Island Piling, Inc. is a locally owned and operated firm serving SW Florida for the last 30 years installing residential and commercial foundation piling. Please feel free to contact Kena Yoke, Vice President at 239.592.7211.