Earthmoving Industry Insight, Opinion

Moira Linton – demolition expert

From government admin to demolition boss – Moira Linton wants her experience of building her own business to inspire more women to make the leap into construction

In the first of what will be a series of features focusing on the career paths of women working in different aspects of the construction industry, Earthmovers & Excavators spoke with one of the few women in the country working in what can be an overlooked area of the industry – demolition.

Moira Linton, who runs Melbourne Wide Demolition alongside business partner Joanne Ramselaar, as well as family business BMC Demolition, is a passionate advocate for both women working in construction as well as the demolition side of the industry in general.

For Linton, it was incidental exposure to the industry through her work as an executive assistant at the Victorian state government’s Linking Melbourne Authority that provided her first experience of the construction world.

The now-defunct Authority oversaw the EastLink and Peninsula Link Road construction projects east of Melbourne. As part of her job, Linton would go on site visits and watch the machinery at work, amazed at the scale and skill shown.

“So that’s how I started off, going: ‘Oh, jeez, I like these big diggers!’” she laughs 13 years later, having swapped the office for a fleet of her own diggers.

“Doing those site visits and seeing the progress from John Holland and what was Leighton Contractors at that time just amazed me. I thought ‘Oh, my God, this is exciting.’

“And then I met my husband, who was an excavator operator starting to get into demolition, and I began doing the office work for him because he wasn’t au fait with all of that.”

Moira Linton (right) set up Melbourne Wide Demolition three years ago with Joanne Ramselaar (left)

Career change

Eventually the pull of demolition led Linton to consider a new career running a business, but there was a small hitch – Australia didn’t have the training available that she was looking for.

“I decided to go over to Washington DC to learn about how to estimate for demolition, because there was no course like that eight years ago in Australia,” Linton says.

“I got my demolition licence around three years ago – I think there’s only one or two females at all that have one. Apart from us there’s been no new females coming into the industry – ours is even more male dominated than construction itself.”

With the licence in hand, Linton decided it was time to set up in business, and now runs both Melbourne Wide Demolition and BMC Demolition.

“BMC Demolition does work for clients like Winslow and BMD, and that’s my strip-out arm of demolition. With Melbourne Wide Demolition – when I when I split up from my husband, I had all this work, so I asked my friend Joanne to join me.

“She does all the permits and office work so I can get out on site, supervise the guys and jump in the truck if needed – I love doing that.”

Challenges in construction

Melbourne Wide Demolition, which specialises in small to medium-scale demolition work of structures up to three storeys high, has been making a name for itself across Melbourne metro. So much so, it was awarded the winner of the Trade & Construction Small category at last year’s Wyndham Business Awards.

“We were encouraged by our local council to enter the awards,” Linton says.

“As women in demolition, they were really impressed because there are a lot of challenges we do face. I’ve been to job sites where there aren’t any women’s toilets for example. You’re starting to see them more now on the bigger sites, but they’re never unlocked.

“You never see women working on sites, though I sometimes see female truck drivers. Usually the women in our industry are architects or based in the office. The big Tier One builders are trying to get engineers out on site, but we’re not seeing women in excavators unfortunately.”

Linton believes that this is mostly down to a lack of education at the school level of what career opportunities there are in trades, particularly for young women. As she herself experienced when moving into the world of work – the option of working in construction just never occurred to her.

“If education starts at the grassroots level, that would have given me a bit more insight about where I wanted to go,” she says. “I would have loved to have done a trade and started my own business earlier.”

As well as a lack of education about careers in construction for those just starting out, Linton says that because so few women are seen in leadership roles in the industry, this means women looking to change careers also don’t see it as a viable option.

“There is a stigma around being a woman in the industry,” she says.

“I’ll call a client to quote for a demolition and their reply is: ‘Can I speak to you the owner or your husband?’ They’re shocked when they find out I am one of the owners and the demolition licence is mine.”

However, Linton says that she is seeing a gradual shift towards greater acceptance of women in construction over time.

“It’s very slow, but the younger generation are more likely to say: ‘That’s great – good on you for giving it a go.’ We need more grants and sponsorship of women looking at getting into construction as well encouraging kids in high school to do this kind of career to push this further.”

Melbourne Wide Demolition won its category at last year’s Wyndham Business Awards

Passion for quality

For Linton, she says the passion she feels for the demolition industry and running her own business is a mixture of helping guide clients through a project, experiencing the wide variety of different project types that can be undertaken and seeing the skill shown by her operators on site.

“I love going to site and seeing a building come down,” she says.

“It’s amazing how skilful the guys are on the excavators – they can just pluck one brick at a time if needed.

“Every site has its own challenges. Sometimes you need tiger tails if you’re near electrical wires, you might need scaffolding or hoarding. There’s Regulation 116, making sure there’s protection for the public. Sometimes it can take longer to do the paperwork than the demo itself!”

However, she adds, these challenges just serve to motivate her to achieve the best she can for her clients.

“I’ve always been very passionate about my work, but when you have your own business, the drive is even stronger. Your business really is all about your values and morals. It’s all about relationships, not money.”

As for encouraging more women to join the industry, Linton says NAWIC is great resource to connect with women already working in construction and companies who may be willing to offer work experience to those thinking of a career change but not knowing where to start.

“What I’m seeing are women who are older saying that they didn’t know that the opportunities were there when they were younger, but working in construction is something that they would love to do. But, they’re worried that their age will be an issue, or the stigma of being a woman in this industry and they don’t go for it. It’s disappointing, which is why we’re trying to show that there are successful women in this business and it can be done.

“I’m seeing that idea gain more traction, which is great – we just need to find a way to get this information outside of our industry as well to encourage more women to get involved.”

For more information on support for women in construction, visit

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