News Post

Advice from Cathy Simmons, Design Manager – Women in Construction Week

Cathy Simmons has been with Todd & Sargent for 27 years. Cathy has a degree in Industrial Technology from McPherson College and Industrial Education and Technology from Iowa State University. She has worked as a drafter, designer, Assistant Design Manager, and now Design Manager during her time at T&S. Read on to learn more about her experiences and her advice for young women joining the construction industry:


1. Don’t over think new challenges.  Just start.  One step will lead to the next.

When I was in college, I had to machine an aluminum step shaft on a horizontal lathe for a class called Materials and Processes.  Just standing in front of the 5’-0” long machine with my little 3” long piece of aluminum covered in blue layout fluid was a daunting place to be.  The professor, Dr. John Pannabecker, sensing my hesitation came up to me and said there are no such things as girl machines and boy machines.  He pointed out a whole row of guys sitting in another room at sewing machines creating upholstery coverings for car seats.  The comment resonated with me.  The machine wasn’t the issue.  The difference was in my head.  I had to take a chance and start one step at a time just like I had done with a sewing machine years ago.


2. You will make mistakes.  It’s how you handle them that counts. 

I had to admit, my little aluminum step shaft project on the lathe wasn’t going so well.  I knew it was out of tolerance but my greatest fear, that I had worried and obsessed about – happened.  The tool hit something on the lathe and it started knocking and gouged the piece I was creating.  It was ruined.  However, the fear and obsession I had created in my mind was far worse than the mishap.  No one was hurt.  Only time and a little piece of aluminum was lost.  It was easy to create a second step shaft. The process went faster and the step shaft was in tolerance too.  I would have never learned the fear was worse than the event, how to weigh the results of failure, or how to keep going in the face of adversity if I had succeeded the first time.


3. You can’t do it all.  You have to find a balance.

Another mentor, Dr. Gary Thompson said, “Consider these three things –  marriage, college, and work – you can do two well but not all three.  One will suffer.”  In other words, you need to be very careful how much you take on and decide what is important to you.  It is impossible to be a wife and mom, work a job, keep the house spotless, cook three square Betty Crocker meals a day, work out, and advocate for your favorite charity at the same time.  Be proactive in defining your life the way you want and don’t be afraid to say no.


Brian Watson

Director of Project Management

Brian Watson is responsible for project management at Todd & Sargent, bringing consistent project delivery to our clients. He works closely with our project management teams and clients to ensure project quality, schedules, and budgets are met. Brian is a member of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society and International Association of Operative Millers. Brian graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Construction Engineering and has been with Todd & Sargent since 2014.


Christie Mohlke

Vice President – People

Christie Mohlke leads all HR functions at Todd & Sargent, such as culture, recruiting, training, compliance, employee onboarding and orientation, employee relations, benefits, and more. She has over 10 years of experience in human resources focusing on operations management. Christie graduated with a B.B.A. in Marketing from Austin Peay State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Cumberland University. She is a member of the National Society of Human Resource Management and is designated as a Professional of Human Resources.

Lesley Whitten

Operations Manager – Canada

Lesley Whitten oversees all aspects of our Canadian operations, from project management and engineering to field operations to ensure each facility meets client expectations. She has more than 15 years of experience in the construction industry, and she has worked on many new grain elevator builds, large scale elevator and facility upgrades, fertilizer facilities, and canola crushing plants while serving in roles from project coordinator up to project management manager. Lesley holds a CET (Certified Engineering Technologist) and PMP (Project Management Professional) accreditation.

James Bucher

Chief Financial Officer

James Bucher is responsible for Todd & Sargent’s finance, accounting, and information technology functions. He manages the T&S accounting team, banking and insurance relationships, and oversees the annual audits of the company’s financial statements, benefits plans, and insurance programs. James graduated from Iowa State University with a B.A. in Accounting and holds his Certified Public Accountant designation. James has been with Todd & Sargent since 2017.

Pat Taggart

Vice President – Field Operations

Pat Taggart is responsible for field operations at Todd & Sargent. His duties include overseeing safety, field construction teams, construction scheduling, and project quality assurance. He also oversees Todd & Sargent’s warehouse team. Pat graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Agriculture Studies. Pat has been with Todd & Sargent since 1983.

Bryan Coussens, P.E.

Vice President – Engineering

Bryan Coussens is responsible for all aspects of Todd & Sargent’s engineering function. Bryan manages Todd & Sargent’s team of engineers and drafters to meet our clients’ complex engineering needs. He provides structural, process, and value engineering for projects in the grain, feed, flour, biofuels, and specialty industries. Bryan also reviews projects for code requirements and compliance. Bryan is a member of the American Concrete Institute and the American Institute of Steel Construction. He graduated from Iowa State University with a B.A. in Civil Engineering. Bryan has been with Todd & Sargent since 1996.

Scott Sylvester

Vice President – Business Development

Scott Sylvester is responsible for developing and maintaining strong client and partner relationships as well as identifying new market opportunities at Todd & Sargent. He has over 20 years serving clients and partners in the Ag and Industrial construction markets. He is an active member with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and past member of Food Processing Suppliers Association and Iowa Lean Consortium. Scott graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a General Studies degree, with an emphasis on communications and psychology.

Alex Kerrigan

Vice President – Project Development

Alex Kerrigan is responsible for project development at Todd & Sargent, bringing ag and industrial projects from concept to reality. Alex works closely with each client’s team to develop successful facility designs and compile comprehensive and competitive cost estimates. Alex is a member of the American Feed Industry Association, Grain Elevator and Processing Society, International Association of Operative Millers, and National Grain and Feed Association. Alex graduated from the University of Notre Dame. Alex has been with Todd & Sargent since 2002.

Rori Bouchard

President – Canada

Rori Bouchard leads our Canada team to fulfilling the company mission and vision and ensures our company lives its values every day. He has more than 15 years of industry experience, with specialized knowledge in all facets of the construction of ag-industrial facilities with experience as a project manager, business development director, and managing director, among other roles. Rori is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers & Geoscientists of Manitoba and Grain Elevator and Processing Society. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Management.

Jon Sargent

President & CEO

Jon Sargent provides overall strategic and corporate direction to Todd & Sargent. In his role as President & CEO, he focuses on setting the company’s vision, leading the company’s leadership team, and ensuring the company lives its values every day. Jon is a member of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS), Construction Management Association, and former board member of Associated Builders & Contractors of Iowa. Jon graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.B.A. in Finance and from the University of Chicago with an M.B.A. in Economics. He is also a member of The Sargent Group, Inc. Board of Directors. Jon has been with Todd & Sargent since 2010.