Chamber Insider Blog

National Native American Heritage Month: Tanya C. Matthews

Thank you to Tanya C. Matthews, TMG Construction Corporation President & Chairman for answering our questions! To learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, click here.

Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?

I was born at Fort Belvoir to parents who worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers. After graduating from college and getting married, my husband and I started the company.

TMG Construction Corporation has been in Loudoun County since the 1990’s as an institutional and commercial general contractor. We serve the defense and intelligence communities, in addition to many regional, state and local governments. We are honored to build for The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. One of our niche markets is aviation where we build airports, hangars, baggage facilities, access control points, taxiways, air traffic control towers and other related projects.

What does National Native American Heritage Month mean to you?

National Native American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate my background, and our nation’s history. Native Hawaiians are frequently forgotten as Native Americans. We typically think of Native American Indians. Part of our business is mentoring native Alaskan companies to provide them with opportunities they might not otherwise receive. Understanding the cultures of Native Americans brings new light to appreciating one another.

Native Hawaiians, like Native American Indians, have lost opportunities to own land in their native environments. They tend to not have the economic base to live and work in prime locations. Much of my family in the islands live close to subsistence, living off the land, fishing for dinner. Some Hawaiian children walk to school barefoot and have no shoes. Some Hawaiian adults are in worse health that many other Americans; they are more likely to suffer from asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Holding on to native culture is challenging, especially being so far away. At home, I am happy wearing a muumuu, but wearing it in public is not very acceptable. Wearing a flower in my hair is a small way to show my cultural heritage, as is having flowers on my desk at work. It is important to remember the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the devastating impact on Hawaiians. My dad was delivering newspapers on base that day, and at 16 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Hawaii was not even a state at that time. Native American Heritage Month matters.

TMG Regional Team

What was your first experience in business and how did you get into your current line of work?

My first experience in business was working as a laborer in a structural steel shop in Gaithersburg. Having parents in the business created a clear path to my current line of work: I knew growing up that I would be in construction or engineering. My first toys were erector sets. I learned at a young age that (typically) the heaviest section of steel needs to be at the bottom of the building in order to support the load of the rest of the structure. Of course, as an adult, one of the projects that I was honored to work on was J.T.L. Tycon Towers, the 20-story brick building in Tysons Corner at the Beltway where the heaviest section is at the top to hold up the arch.

Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?

Yes! My mom was the longest employee at the Corps and she taught me that women have a place in construction, and that I would need to find a way to stand out. Dad taught me the critical importance of treating every employee as valuable as every client. Whitie Hubert and Ed Becraft from Glen Construction were special mentors. Whitie taught me about ethics in construction, and the cherished value of the Professional Constructor. Ed taught me work ethic, honesty, integrity, diligence and the value of integrating work life with home life.  

TMG at The Pentagon

What is the best part of your job and why? 

The best part of my job is getting to know the people in my world! We have wonderful clients who have a mission, we have tremendous staff members who are dedicated professionals with a passion for building, and our subs really count on us. Just last week, we invited the staff from our headquarters to our home for a Thanksgiving lunch. It was so heartwarming to share our home, and to connect on a very authentic personal level with each person. Yes, understanding our team members is the best part of my job.

What is it like working in Loudoun/Northern Virginia?

There is no better place. We have plenty of economic activity, both in the public and private sectors. Career opportunities exist around every corner. We have the joy of the mountains, the ocean, every major federal agency, the cultural activities of the nation’s capital, the diversity of ethnic food and the broad variety of people from every nation. Our airports provide flights anywhere in the world. The world’s internet flows through Loudoun County. From my office, I can see deer, foxes, wild turkeys, raccoons, and many varieties of birds. I love working here.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?

My favorite things include adventure, travel, music, pets and nature. We fly often, sometimes just for adventure to see something new, or to try out a new restaurant within a two-hour radius of DC. General aviation provides a completely new world of adventure. We enjoy music, at home, in the theatre, at a concert, or just by the fire. Playing with our two puppies brings smiles and laughter to our home. In addition, we always have personal construction projects going on… we just have to keep on building! Currently, we are renovating our kitchen and we are building a vacation hangar home.

Learn more about TMG Construction Corporation on their website.