Brandy McCombs: Connector, trailblazer, entrepreneur

Building relationships is McCombs’ cornerstone in building her business

Brandy McCombs, president at IBC, is the first woman to hold the board of directors chair position, and the first person to chair the board of The Builders, a chapter of the AGC. Photo by Miles Boyer

Brandy McCombs is making her way to a table at the coffee shop when I arrive for our scheduled interview. In finding that ideal balance between career, family, hobbies and self-improvement, it seems she’s always on the go, and today is no different. She came straight from the airport — still the old terminal at the time of writing this piece, but she’s already familiar with the new terminal, having been one of the subcontractors on the project.

We scheduled 90 minutes to chat, thinking we probably wouldn’t use it all, and then found ourselves wrapping up about two hours later.

“My ‘gift of gab’ has been pretty useful in my career,” McCombs, principal at IBC, said. “I enjoy interacting with people; I enjoy getting to know people. People do business with those they like and trust, so that’s one of the reasons I think IBC has been successful.”

McCombs and I find common ground easily, so the conversation always flows naturally, but I get the impression she has an easy time talking with about anyone she meets. Our conversation confirms it’s always been this way for her.

“My first job was at Rocky Boots, a boot factory in Nelsonville, Ohio. My mom used to put the laces in the boots, and I worked in the retail store across the street,” McCombs said. “So, I’ve always been interacting with people. That’s where I found my passion. I don’t get much joy from sitting at my desk.”


Nelsonville, Ohio is a town of less than 5,000, and growing up, the Rocky Boots factory was a main source of employment in town, including for McCombs’ family. In addition to her and her late mother, her aunt, uncle and cousin also all worked at the factory before the company eventually moved operations overseas.

McCombs went to high school in nearby Athens, Ohio and then on to Hocking College for an accounting degree — or that’s how she started out, anyway. “I lasted a semester,” McCombs notes with a laugh. “I looked around to see what degree the credits would most easily transfer to and got my business degree instead. I’m so glad I took those classes because they are so helpful to my business now, but accounting wasn’t my passion.”

McCombs explains how it also helps her be a “translator” between different departments of her business. She understands both the accounting side of the business as well as the people in the field and can serve as a liaison between the two. But building a business of her own didn’t happen overnight.

“I was working in restaurants before I was hired on with an MEP contractor in 2000,” McCombs said. ”[The contractor is] where I found my passion.”


Both McCombs’ dad and grandfather were entrepreneurs, so it’s no surprise it’s in her blood too. After five years working for the MEP contractor, she wanted more for her career and was offered a position as a “custom change coordinator” for a general contractor, where she helped condo owners build out their units. Eventually, she was promoted to interior superintendent.

“I realized the value I was bringing to the GC, I could do for myself, so after four years, I started my own business,” McCombs said. “I began with carpentry, got that down and made some well-connected relationships. But I started to think about 2008 happening again? How can we sustain our business? Building construction was down, but people always need roads, so that’s how the traffic division started. We diversified our business.”

McCombs is quick to credit her support system for helping her achieve professional success. Her husband, Jeff Pollock, is IBC’s Chief Operating Officer. “Jeff has always been there — he’s been there late at night taking care of things when I’m out. He’s great with the people in the field. He’s a good balance for me,” McCombs said.

In addition to Pollock, McCombs’ father, Steve McCombs, and son, Milan Pollock, work for IBC. Her two French bulldogs, Rainy and Storme, make appearances at the office, and are undoubtedly considered key members of the IBC team. McCombs has two other adult children, Bailey and Jordon; an older sister, Stacy; and two younger brothers, Isaiah and Ethan.

Her support network also extends outside her family.

“A really good friend of mine, Carolyn, has always been my cheerleader,” McCombs said. “That’s my number one advice for people, too. Always have that one person you can call when you’re having a bad day and you don’t think you can do it. Carolyn is always there to take my calls and picks me up so I can keep going.”


McCombs’ entrepreneurial success didn’t arrive on a silver platter. She’s reached this point in her career by learning from the stumbles that are part of the journey.

“It might not seem like it when you are in the bad times, but mistakes are actually good because they help you grow,” McCombs said. “I’ve lived that life of ‘Why did this happen to me?’ But now I’m at the stage of, ‘Oh, that’s why that happened!’ I’m learning and growing from experience.”

As McCombs begins her year as Board of Directors Chair for The Builders, the industry celebrates the milestone — she is the first woman in the association’s 136-year history to hold the position. She acknowledged that being a woman in an industry still run mostly by men has come with challenges.

“I felt at times that the road for me was longer than most men might have. I had to prove myself more,” McCombs said. “But being a woman in this industry has also made me stronger because it made me work harder. It made me who I am.”

She sees her rise to this top leadership role as indicative of the evolution of The Builders and part of what makes the association different from others.

“Look what it came from — the ‘good ol’ boys club’ — and now we’re evolving and growing from that,” McCombs said. “The Builders is different from other organizations because competitors can connect with and support each other.”

McCombs said she got involved with The Builders when she realized she was spending too much time “in the business” rather than “on the business.” She wanted to get out and connect with people in the industry, so she came to the Summer Party (formerly Party on the Patio).

“I met Mary McNamara [owner at Cornell Roofing & Sheet Metal Company] in the elevator, and she introduced me to Rosie [Privitera, president at Mark One Electric Company, Inc.] and others in the industry, and I built my support system from that moment in the elevator,” McCombs said.

During her year as chair, McCombs wants to grow awareness of the association. She wants to make sure people understand what the membership unification with AGC Kansas City means for them and how it will benefit them.

“As a subcontractor, I think the access to the GCs is huge,” McCombs said. “The unification provides a better platform for that — to me, that’s the value. What better way to meet people than through an association whose members really support each other?”


By the time we’re wrapping up the interview, the final dregs of our coffee have been cold for some time. We could easily keep chatting for another two hours, but it’s on to the next item on the to-do list for us both. Before setting my notes aside, I ask her what she wants for her future.

“I want to volunteer more,” McCombs answers. “I love giving back — it’s how I find joy. It motivates me to see that I’m making a difference. To me, that’s what it’s about – helping others, seeing something grow.”