I am honored to be your 2017 President of Women in HVACR. What an exciting time for industry, our families and for ourselves.
At our annual conference last year, I listened to one of our past Presidents, Ruth King discuss the beginnings of WHVACR and how, 13 years later, where we have grown. As I began thinking about where we started and those leaders that have helped develop our organization into what it is today, I became reflective about the Legacy these ladies started. Some led with great enthusiasm and ideas for growth; others led with dignity, strength and grace; and others led with organizational skills.
I admit to a slight panic attack thinking, “’What impact will I leave behind? What will I be remembered for?” But as I reflected about each of you; strong women who have already started their legacy, I was excited and greatly encouraged.
There are many examples of pioneers in our professional lives and personal lives. I read recently that “it doesn’t matter what you do. Do it well and you can change the world”. Melinda Gates states, “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman”. Powerful words.
Each year, WHVACR carefully selects a theme to promote. This year we selected Discovering your Legacy. We will build on this in 4 segments: Discovering your legacy, Building your legacy, Protecting your legacy and Empowering your legacy.
Have you considered what impact you will have on the industry and your family? Regardless of our ages or stage of life, we are constantly developing what we will be remembered for. Our strengths and weaknesses constantly hone us to be stronger, better and powerful. We are a work in progress J Use your strengths to be confident. Allow your weaknesses to make you aware of areas that just need refining. And remember we are all in this together. Build each other up; help those that struggle and be the strong woman you are!
I look forward to hearing from you throughout the year as we work together on discovering our legacy.
At the Women in HVACR Annual Board Meeting at the AHR Expo this past January, in addition to discussions covering everything from defining the scope of our 2017 Scholarship Program, last year’s successes with the Mentorship Program, and the possibility of establishing our 1st ever stand-alone WHVACR Conference (YAY!), we had a little side discussion that I found intriguing. One of our Board Members had read about the concept of living your life with a focus on appreciating the “journey” versus focusing only on arriving at your “destination.” I thought this was an interesting discussion and wanted to explore it a little more.
Personally, I think this is a “grass is greener” kind of issue. Those who have laser focus on their goals wish they could find the time to stop and smell the roses and those who spend their time smelling roses, wish they could get their act in gear to get from point A to point B faster and with more focus!
Honestly, I can see benefit to living your life either way, but personally, I think the key is to find a healthy balance of BOTH.
The idea of “enjoying the journey” is incredibly romantic. Finding joy in living each day however and wherever it takes you sounds like a delightful way to live. But goals don’t often accomplish themselves. If you desire to reach a goal, you’ve got to invest the time and put in the work. You can’t just go with the flow, you have to direct the flow! I’m all about enjoying the ride, but I want the ride to take me where I want to go. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy your path. Just make sure you’re not on a forever journey with no clear destination in mind. Have a path, even if some days, you choose not to follow it!
On the other end of the spectrum, too much laser-focus can make you miss out on the pleasure, or even sometimes the BENEFITS of a detour. For example, I graduated college with a degree in Political Science and aspirations to have a career in public service. That was the goal I pursued with laser focus. I got the degree, did the internships, got a job in the field, pursued promotions, continued to take classes, got a mentor and read up on everything I could put my hands on. But, when an opportunity presented itself to take a massive detour into (yup, you guessed it) being an HVACR Contractor, I paused. I had to evaluate my original goal. Did it still make me happy? Was it still my passion? After some soul searching, I decided to take that alternate path (obviously). Was that “losing my focus” or “abandoning my goals”? I suppose some could see it that way. I prefer to see it as being open to opportunity “off the beaten path”. Never be SO focused on a goal, that you are blind to everything else around you. Detours can lead to pretty amazing experiences!
So although laser focus can get you to your goal faster, it’s important to make sure that you take care of yourself along the way. Find ways to enjoy the process of achieving your goals to make sure that you are living a full life while pursuing your goals. And to all of you rose-smellers, go ahead and enjoy whatever life brings your way, but make an effort to live with purpose too!
My husband and our business partner started Cool Sunshine Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. in Oct 1996. I was working full time as a nail technician and would do the books at night and on weekends for them. Then, in 1998 I started working with the company full time…and that is how I was basically thrown into this great adventure.
At Cool Sunshine Heating & Air Conditioning, I started off as just office staff, then I started helping with things like ordering material for the crews in the mornings and helping get them out to the jobsites. I started working home shows and going to training classes. I would go to any training class available, business classes, advertising classes, sales classes…you name it! I still go to as many classes as possible. Currently I still handle the financials, deal with builders, homeowners, engineers, etc. but I also go on outside sales calls as a Comfort Advisor. I would say being a Comfort Advisor and going on outside sales calls is definitely my passion…and my calling…anyone that knows me, knows that I am a people person and LOVE to talk. About 10-12 years ago I took a sales class and I came back and told my husband and our partner that I wanted to go out and do outside sales calls…..guess what happened? They told me NO WAY…people won’t take you seriously and buy from us, you’re a women. So, long story short, it took a Sales person from one of our distributors to change their minds….he came in to our office one day and said “why don’t you have Joy out selling” She would be great at sales! And…here we are today with me out selling and loving every minute of it!!
My greatest achievement is my success in a male dominated industry and the success of my company. My greatest obstacle has been overcoming how people perceive me as a young woman in the industry. I think often times when people meet a woman in this industry they assume she doesn’t have much knowledge, so that can be challenging at times.
Women in HVACR has given me the opportunity to meet so many great people, some of which are now lifelong friends. I also get to work with several wonderful vendors, builders, engineers, architects, etc.
To new females in the industry, I would say to get as much experience as possible because you are already starting off with a disadvantage in a male dominated industry. If you don’t know anything about how the installations go, duct sizing, equipment sizing, venting, etc. you will not have good success in this field. In my experience, doing outside sales, I have seen some men that can just be “salesmen” and sell systems to people without knowing much about the HVAC business. Often times I go into a home the homeowner automatically thinks I don’t know what I’m doing because I’m a woman and this is a “man’s job” right? So you need to prove yourself to them, show them that you DO know what you are talking about and that you are the expert in the room in regards to their HVAC needs.
I am always joking and having fun with everyone! My family is the most important thing to me in the entire world!!! I go to every sporting event and dance competition that my kids have. I am the mom that yells really loud just to embarrass them…why else would I go, right? I LOVE dancing, camping, fishing, hunting and just having fun. And, WINE…lots and lots of wine!
I work with men EVERY day, I have a PHD in parenting/negotiating (my children are a little naughty)…….all of these lead to a Doctorate in life skills, I’d say!!
My plans for the future are to continue learning and to better myself within the industry. Bringing the kids into the business is also a goal of mine, it would be great to continue the legacy. Lastly, our employee’s success is key to us, as we could not do this without them, we have all grown into one big happy family and we love each and every one of them!
Many of us know (or should know) the beginning of the company we work for- the who, the why, the problem they were trying to solve, and more importantly the drive & passion that has since made them successful. If for whatever reason you do not know that information- please stop reading this article and immediately find out. How can you define your own legacy in your company if you do not know or understand the reason for the beginning of the company you are working for?
Now…back to HVAC. When did it start? What was the problem they were trying to solve? Sometimes the best ideas, and biggest legacy items are created trying to solve a completely different problem. For example, did you know that BubbleWrap was invented by accident? They were trying to create textured wall paper! Go figure – now it provides countless hours of enjoyment, not to mention protection for many of our products. I know what you are thinking….well HVAC was invented to keep people comfortable – that’s why. Well the moment that many of people in the industry refer to as the cornerstone of HVAC, came about because there was a problem with humidity causing magazine pages to wrinkle. That’s right- magazine pages, not people….
So let’s get on with it…Perhaps the earliest beginnings of HVAC can be found in the Greek and Roman Empire, that is after the original invention of fire, and cavemen using fire to keep their houses warm. A temple in Ephesus in 350BCE was heated using a system called hypocaust (Greek Hypo meaning “under” and caust- meaning “burnt”). These systems produce and circulate hot air below the floor of the room. Although the Greek temple was heated this way, the reasoning behind it is still unclear. The first real attributed system of heating under the floor was created for Roman baths. Roman innovator, Sergius Orata, burned fuel in a low chamber area, flues circulated through the walls and floors to heat rooms and areas – which could also be turned into a sauna by adding a pool of water.
Fast forwarding a bit in time, in the 1830s Dr. John Gorrie creates an ice-making machine that used compression to make buckets of ice, and utilizes that same force to blow air over them. He believed that cooling truly was the key to preventing the spread of diseases, and making patients at the hospital more comfortable thus promoting quicker healing. He went as far as patenting the idea in 1851, however, that is as far as he truly got. the 1840s, physician and inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Florida proposed the idea of cooling cities to relieve residents of "the evils of high temperatures." Gorrie believed that cooling was the key to avoiding diseases like malaria and making patients more comfortable, but his rudimentary system for cooling hospital rooms required ice to be shipped to Florida from frozen lakes and streams in the northern United States.
On a more depressing note, in summer of 1881 after the assassination of President James Garfield, engineers from the navy were trying to find a way to keep the body cold, and prevent decomposition. They created a box that would be filled with a water-soaked cloth, and more importantly a fan that blows hot air overhead and will keep the cool air closer to the ground. Not that far of an idea – as we now know hot air rises (for the most part!). They determined that the box could lower the temperature by up to 20degF. However, completely unrealistic as it used close to a million pounds of ice in the summer months.
After that, the idea of cooling air really went on the backburner for close to 30 years. That was until Willis Carrier came on board. While working for the Buffalo Forge Company in 1902, Carrier was tasked with solving a humidity problem that was causing magazine pages to wrinkle at Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. Now we understand the problem, a customer came to a company with money to solve a problem they were having…. Through a series of experiments, Carrier designed a system that controlled humidity using cooling coils and secured a patent for his "Apparatus for Treating Air,” which could either humidify (by heating water) or dehumidify (by cooling water) air. As he continued testing and refining his technology, he also devised and patented an automatic control system for regulating the humidity and temperature of air in textile mills. It wasn't long before Carrier realized that humidity control and air conditioning could benefit many other industries, and he eventually broke off from Buffalo Forge, forming Carrier Engineering Corporation with six other engineers.
At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, organizers used mechanical refrigeration to cool the Missouri State Building. The system used 35,000 cubic feet of air per minute to cool the 1,000-seat auditorium, the rotunda and other rooms within the Missouri State Building. It marked the first time the American public was exposed to the concept of comfort cooling. A big breakthrough in comfort cooling technology came in the 1920s, when Americans flocked to movie theaters to watch Hollywood stars on the silver screen.
That is only the beginning, you will have to wait till Q2 when we take these ideas and build on that legacy!
Over the last year, the Women in HVACR organization received dozens of applications from energetic and ambitious young women who are just getting started in the industry, as well as highly qualified and inspirational mentors who are looking to pass on their wisdom and years of experience to the next generation of women in HVACR. As an organization, we are so happy to be able to provide a way to connect women to establish vial, productive and fulfilling mentor-mentee relationships!
The WHVACR Mentorship Committee uses information collected from an online mentorship application form to identify mentor-mentee matches based on industry segment, personal interests and geographical locations. In the first year of the program, we matched dozens of applicants, introducing matches by email, phone or other methods to get the mentorship process underway!
Over the next year, we will continue to provide mentor-mentee matching services as well as provide resources, support and gather feedback from active matches on how to improve the program. We currently have several mentors who are awaiting their mentees, so if you’ve ever considered reaching out to a mentor for advice, now is a great time to apply!
The WHVACR Mentorship Program, is still seeking both mentors and mentees from all aspects of the industry. Anyone interested in participating either as a mentor or mentee (or perhaps both), should fill out an application online, or contact the WHVACR Mentorship and Education Committee by email firstname.lastname@example.org.