An experienced underground utility contractor, working with horizontal drilling and pipes, Melissa Russell was ready for a change and a new challenge for herself. She is the co-founder and president of Cannon Utility Services, LLC in Belleville, Illinois, since 2016. Having been in the business for 30 combined years of experience, the company has grown to a size that has allowed her to build and/or upgrade miles of plant over the past year. They are a diversified HDD contractor that has done work to include CATV, telephone, sewer, water, fiber, HDPE pipe and casing placement for commercial and residential customers. In January 2017, Cannon Utility Services, LLC expanded their services once again to include forestry work for Ameren. This work includes the use of a mulching mower to clear brush and trees from utility easements and right of ways. It currently has one crew working in this division, with plans to add a second crew by end of year.
Having expanded their services as well as their personnel, Ms. Russell joined the company in April 2017 full-time, using her 20 plus years of managerial experience to help create a Human Resource Division, overseeing business administration, personnel and fiscal responsibilities as well as being read in on the short- and long-term projects of the company. Prior to the start of her professional career, Ms. Russell pursued a formal education, earning a Bachelor of Science in social work and counseling. She then did 25 years in the social work counseling field and she was ready to do something else. She felt that she did not want to be burnt out, and instead wanted to be the best she could be for her clients and colleagues in that field.
In Ms. Russell’s first profession, the one thing that came full circle for her was when she helped a woman leave her abusive partner; she was a registered nurse when she came into the shelter, and was applying for disability. Ms. Russell’s mother ended up in a nursing home for a short time and when she would visit her, her mother would always tell her about this wonderful nurse she loved on the night shift. After missing her several times, she finally ran into the nurse, who ended up being the same woman she had helped many years prior.
Active in her local community, Ms. Russell volunteers with several community organizations including Oktoberfest and the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois. The latter organization works to eliminate domestic violence in individual lives and society as a whole. Through these civic endeavors, Ms. Russell has helped over 3,000 women and their children.
Ms. Russell attributes her success to dedicating her time to getting her companies name out there more and developing their website. She is also trying to have the company certified as a woman-owned company. Moving forward, Ms. Russell would like to expand her business. She would also like to hire more people, getting her company’s numbers up to 30 employees. She is motivated, likes learning new things and tries to bring a positive aspect to everything she does.