ACHR The News: Women Flourish in HVAC Industry Positions
Targeting women for careers in the trades could lessen labor shortages
By Nicole Krawcke, Business Management Editor for www.achrnews.com
Women-owned businesses are thriving. Currently, 9.4 million women-owned businesses are operating in the U.S. in 2015 — employing more than 7.9 million people and generating nearly $1.5 trillion in revenue, according to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express.
Additionally, between 1997 and 2015, the number of women-owned businesses increased at a rate one and a half times the national average, the report said.
However, the construction industry lags behind, as only 7 percent of such firms are owned by women. And, even fewer women work as technicians in the HVAC field. Just 1.2 percent of the workforce was female in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Yet, despite the data, female professionals in the HVAC industry said they’re seeing more and more women entering the field.
Kelly Eustice, COO of Heating & Plumbing Engineers Inc. (HPE) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, represents the third generation of her family to lead HPE. She and her husband took over the company following her father’s retirement in 2004.
Originally serving as CEO and company president, she and her husband elected to switch titles, as she felt she was more of an asset to the business in an operations role.
“I really found a home in the field, so I took over field operations,” Eustace said. “I like being out in the field; it’s where I’m the most comfortable and confident.
“I love that tradesfolk have such pride in what they do,” she continued. “That’s what gets me going in the morning. It’s why I come to work. I want to see all of them succeed.”
Eustace, who was recently honored with the 2015 Women of Influence Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal, said she was proud to have one woman in HPE’s union apprenticeship program and another in its piping and plumbing apprenticeship program.
“I don’t think there are challenges in this industry as a woman,” Eustace said. “I look at everybody as individuals. And there are a lot more women in our industry than there have ever been. Everyone I’ve come across or worked with has been extremely respectful and supportive of my success. A lot of women don’t see the opportunities that exist, and they’re not around enough women who work in these roles to realize all the benefits a career in this industry can afford them.”