As females working in HVAC&R, our common journey is not only what we do for other women in our industry, but what we aspire to do and where we take our future. We want to make a difference. We strive to help, to have an impact and make our lives and the lives of others better.
Beginning with each one of you, we have many good reasons to feel optimistic about the future of our organization. With nearly 140 registered attendees at our Denver conference, the connections we made with each other demonstrated the commitment we have to our work and our confidence in the future.
While you may find yourself only occasionally attending our conferences and events, there are many opportunities to get even more involved. Join a committee, attend our bi-weekly Zoom In membership calls, connect with or become a mentor, host a local event, or share your knowledge as a speaker.
Since Women in HVACR’s inception fifteen years ago, choosing the priorities for the coming year has been the privilege, and sometimes the challenge, for the incoming president. I am pleased that Danielle Putnam will be succeeding me as your 2019 president. Her confidence and experience will be invaluable in keeping us on track to accomplish the important work we are doing within our industry, communities and beyond.
I would not be here if not for the great efforts and thousands of hours contributed by all the amazing women that came before me, especially our immediate Past President Julie Decker. The most valuable resource has been our terrific board and our members who I meet at every event I attend. And then there are our sponsors, whose financial and programming support are vital to our success.
I encourage you to become more involved in the organization. You can learn more about how you can get involved on our website www.womeninhvacr.org, including seeing all the members of our board, our upcoming events, the list of our sponsors and our committees.
Typically, I despise networking events. I am an introvert. Introducing myself to stranger after stranger and desperately trying to find something interesting to say requires herculean effort for me. I feel as though I’m always standing outside of a small group of “networking” folks trying to play Red Rover to get through to actually talk to someone.
Women in HVACR is nothing like that. What a breath of fresh air it was to walk through the WHVACR Welcome Reception. Each person seemed to genuinely want to connect. To ask and answer questions. To get to know me and share themselves. It was, as advertised, a most “welcoming” reception. As I wandered the room, introducing myself, I met some amazing people. But what truly floored me was how comfortable I felt.
Here’s an example with two separate groups. The first, who strategically and ingeniously placed themselves at a table equidistant from the source of the delicious appetizers and the generous open bar, were all smiling as I approached and said, ever so eloquently, “Hi! I’m Karen.” They immediately opened up their circle to make space and welcomed me in. As they introduced themselves, I realized that they were from all over the country and had never met each other before, but they’d already had an easy rapport with each other. They each teased each other about little things they’d learned about each other earlier in the night. And even including me in their jibing as they joked about my lack of a Massachusetts accent, despite being born and raised just a little south of Boston. From there, we barely stopped talking. We even made plans to share costume resources at the Defying Gravity night the following night, which I now realize, I actually forgot to do. Sorry ladies! When I finally excused myself to do some more mingling, I was sad to leave because I feel as though I was part of that group.
The second table I visited was laughing so loudly, I absolutely had to go check things out. Again, I found a group of women who’d never met before laughing and joking as if they were old friends. This time, taking sides over who was planning to go to the wine tasting event and who was hiking post-conference, and debating which was better for true bonding, copious amounts of wine? Or copious amount of sweat? Though I don’t think they ever came to a conclusion, I think that we can all agree that both were effective means of creating lasting bonds of friendship at this event.
I have attended several conferences and countless networking events in my career and I have never felt so at home as when I attend the Women in HVACR events. The best part is that the connections don’t end after the conference. Several women that I met have already connected on my personal social media, through the mentorship program, via email or through WHVACR social media, to keep the conversation going so that we can all stay connected until the next event.
Why we should do hard things
The Friday after conference, 17 brave women woke up before dawn to embark on an adventure in the Colorado Rockies. We drove to Idaho Springs, Colorado to hike one of Colorado’s “easiest” fourteeners. To those who do not know what a fourteener is, they are the 53 mountains that have an elevation over 14,000 ft above sea level in the state of Colorado. So, to call this hiking “easy” would be an insult to its rocky terrain, above tree line windy conditions, and never-ending switch backs.
This hike was hard. It challenged our bodies and our minds. It also gave each hiker the chance to cheer each other on, build each other up, and celebrate our success at each milestone during the hike. Many of us had to push ourselves and each other past the point of wanting to quit. But when we summitted and saw our friends faces full of giddy pride, it made every hard step worth it.
The days following the hike, each muscle that ached offered a reminder of how proud we were of each other for doing something hard and getting out of our comfort zones. Thank you Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,065, for teaching us that we are strong and the we can do the hard stuff.
We had a fantastic group for our winery tour and lunch. Balistreri Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery located 10 minutes from downtown Denver. We were able to see how they handcraft their wine, without addition of sulfites or other chemicals. The wine making process starts with crushing and allowing the wine to ferment. This process creates a lot of heat that is tempered by an evaporative cooling system. Then the wine is off to the cellar. Our tour included meeting the family, John Balistreri, his wife Birdie and their daughter Julie. This was a relaxing end to an fantastic conference.
Reflections from Some First-time Conference Attendees
Pointman became a WHVACR gold sponsor this past summer. We’ve called into some Zoom Meetings, but as we headed into this Conference we were unsure of what to expect. Our connections with women in the industry were limited to our customers and other women in our organization. We were eager to jump in and grow as individuals and we’re excited to share what we took away from the experience.
Looking back, it was eye-opening to see women from every facet of the industry. As it turns out, our impression of how all the working parts come together within the industry was pretty limited. We met sheet metal providers, distributors, manufacturers, marketing professionals, business coaches, and so many more women who are HVACR professionals. This broad range of women gave us a better understanding of the depth and reach of the HVACR industry. As each woman we met talked about her company and position, we gained greater insight into how the industry all comes together. We saw, first hand, the teamwork and support Women in HVACR provides women in all areas of the industry.
The women we met were both empowering and humble. They were eager to share their stories, have a good time, and build relationships with fellow women. The field trips were great opportunities to get to know everyone even better. Pointman had women attend both field trips, allowing the connections we made earlier in the Conference to flourish. With this type of atmosphere, we were all able to connect and bond with other WHVACR members in a relaxed and new way.
All women, in the HVACR industry or not, face struggles working in a male-dominated fields. We all know what it’s like to experience both casual and overt sexism; hearing other women’s stories about what they’ve experienced and how they've handled situations in the past was validating and enlightening. By sharing our experiences and trusting each other with our vulnerabilities we gained strength and insight and we developed supportive friendships. We walked away from the conference with so much knowledge, empowerment, and new friendships.
We wish to extend huge thanks to WHVACR for including us in this great experience. Until next year!
The Pointwomen from Pointman,
Denise, Lauren, & Rachel
Cooper-Atkins, acquired by Emerson in early 2018, is a longtime technology leader serving the Industrial & Food processing markets. Cooper-Atkins has comprehensive offerings of temperature management and monitoring products for spot inspection and fixed location uses, including restaurants, supermarkets and other facilities where food is handled, prepared and stored.
Since its establishment in 1885, Cooper-Atkins has built a 130-year, rock-solid reputation providing quality environmental monitoring solutions to top brands and our proven track record speaks for itself.
Cooper-Atkins is a strong complement to Emerson’s global foodservice business, which includes the ProAct™ Services portfolio. In addition, Emerson’s market-leading controls connected solutions and Copeland™ compressors optimize energy consumption and operational performance in the assets powering many of today’s global supermarket chains, restaurant franchises and refrigerated shipping operations.
The added expertise from Cooper-Atkins significantly extends Emerson’s global capabilities in monitoring facilities across the industrial and food processing landscape especially those involved with food, its preparation and other high-value shipments throughout the entire supply chain.
As a company that supports the Women in HVACR Organization, Patti Ellingson, Cooper- Atkins Director of HVAC/R Sales – North America, is a past president of WHVACR but still serves on the board in an advisory capacity. Women in HVACR, http://www.womeninhvacr.org/ is the premier organization for women in the HVACR industry, intent on providing multiple avenues for women to connect and grow, both professionally and personally. “To be a Women in HVACR there are still stereotype challenges that we face on a day to day basis that our counter parts do not always face. However, through knowledge and determination, tact and implementation we overcome these every time. Women have a natural instinct to multi task and problem solve that comes with ease. By tapping into this skill women are able to be successful in all aspects of HVACR whatever your position.”
Cooper-Atkins is a part of the community, which also helps the company attract good employees, and is involved with the Chamber of Commerce and local charities, such as the United Way, community health charities, etc. Employees also reach out to high schools to get the Cooper-Atkins brand out there. Emerson’s like-minded, employee-centric values align closely with our core values and make the acquisition a great fit on both a business and a human level.
In today’s rapidly changing world, we continue to expand our technological capabilities to support and protect brand integrity by providing the right tools that ensure consistent food quality and safety across all our business units.