How Maurice Rahming Is Changing the Face of Construction

MEET THIS CHANGEMAKER: Maurice Rahming saw his way out of poverty through the trades. Growing up in affordable housing (known then as “the projects”), Rahming’s family couldn’t afford for him to go to college. Instead, he opted for technical school, and Mr. Hall, a master electrician, saw Rahming’s potential in the electrical trade and helped mentor him.

Twenty years later, Rahming and his wife, Ali, run O’Neill Construction Group, DBE O’Neill Electric, and Howard Jacobs Masonry, and they’re working to bring more women and people of color into the trades and help them advance their careers. 

WHAT HE IS DOING: Rahming is a leader in minority contracting. Today, women make up just four percent of the 23,000 construction workers in the Portland area. People of color account for 20 percent. For Rahming, these numbers are far too low.

To grow the community of smaller contractors, he’s partnered with firms like Walsh Construction to provide job opportunities and mentoring for minority contractors to help them successfully run a business. Rahming also sits on various boards and committees outside of O’Neill that provide pathways out of poverty for youth, women, and PoC, including Portland Youth Builders and Metropolitan Alliance for Workforce Equity.

FUN FACT: The lights on Tilikum Crossing are the work of O’Neill Electric, and Rahming says it was his favorite recent project.

QUOTABLE: “A lot of times you see construction sites where it’s just older white males and that is 99 percent of the workforce, but minorities and women are paying taxes as well. They deserve the opportunity to participate just as much as anybody else.”

— Maurice Rahming, co-founder, O’Neill Construction Group