2019 Women in HVACR Newsletter

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In typical fashion, I read a book last week called How I Got Millionaire Mentality. Lo and behold, this simple and short read answered the age-old question that I know has held thousands of women back in their lives, and I’m still awe struck by the simplicity of the answer. The question was this, “Why go after your dreams, because what happens if you fail?” The answer was this: it’s better to have 5% of something than 100% of nothing.

Now that summer is in full swing, we are all in our prime – summer for us HVAC lifers is our super bowl. So naturally, we’re all struggling to accomplish our never-ending to-do lists while the sun is shining. And it just so happened to be during this busy summer season that my four-year-old daughter was recently in swimming lessons for two weeks, and every single day that I left work early to take her to her 4:30pm class, I felt guilty for leaving work before five…in order to be a mom.  On the flipside, every time I leave my house to go to work in the mornings, I feel a little guilty for being a businesswoman.  Although I’m torn daily in many directions, at the end of the day, I can honestly say that I achieved 5% of something instead of 100% of nothing.

I’m looking at love what you do by Dana Spinola right now.  She’s an international fashion designer and the owner of the clothing company Fab’rik Boutiques. One of the most impactful parts of her book talks about expanding your heart. I know so many of us in this group truly do love HVAC and love what we do. So naturally, the goals we set earlier this year probably included items that were related to pursuing more for our industry. I always love the New Year because it is a fresh start, but the mid-way point, such as right now – halfway through the year, can be scary.     

Need some marketing strategies to make those goals happen?  Check out Puffer Fish Effect by Susan Frew, a fellow Women in HVACR member.  I have my whole team reading it this month.  Her recommendations are amazing, and her family business became a real-live unicorn if ever there was one.  Speaking of unicorns, I’ve been thinking of them daily – odd I know – who thinks about unicorns!? Well, I’ve been thinking about unicorns because they symbolize utopia, and utopia is that dream of a future where we are all thriving in HVACR in unity, strength, and excellence.

Women in HVACR is beyond utopia, it’s reality.  With the network of relationships, knowledge and education available in our group - although we’re a virtual organization, this year has proven tremendous growth.

MEMBERSHIP: Our membership is continuing to grow.  If you are new to our group, I warmly welcome you; make sure to reach out to see how you can get involved. 

SCHOLARSHIPS: We are currently in the process of selecting our 2019 scholarship winners. Seven recipients will be receiving their disbursements in July, and we could not be more excited for them. 

CONFERENCE: I’m amazed to see the registrations for our annual conference pouring in.  Our theme this year is Connect, Cultivate, Grow.  Let me tell you from experience that I cannot emphasize “connect” enough.    In a world of thumbnail pictures and virtual messaging, our annual conference is a breath of fresh air. You are invited, and I truly hope to see you there.

I leave you with this quote from Dana Spinola’s love what you do: “I want your life to be charged with passion so that the work you do feels like a privilege instead of something to get through every day.” 

Thank you for being a part of this great organization.


P.S. Register for Conference in Boston right here! 

P.P.S. A few ways to stay connected:

 -Committee Email Addresses-


  • Become an ambassador!


  • Write articles, provide content


  • Social media, graphic design, technology


  • Help us spread the word


  • Find students, spread the word


  • Regional meet ups, lunch and learns


  • Are you a mentor or a mentee?


  • Communication, benefits, networking


  • Cross promotions, mutually beneficial relationships
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Member Spotlight
Susan Kirkland, President of Packard

What was your motivation to get into HVACR?

I joined the HVACR industry by accepting an accounting position with a local Wholesaler in 1984 and began my career with Packard Inc. in 1985 as an accounting clerk. So, while I didn’t know to seek out this industry, I have had many motivations for staying in the industry for over 35 years.  I love that this industry has accepted my strengths and given me unlimited opportunity for growth in my career while allowing me the flexibility to raise my family.  I love that while this industry is bigger than most people think, it is a small tight knit community that most people never leave once they are in.  There aren’t many industries that an accounting clerk could one day be President of the company.

How long have you been apart of the HVACR industry?

35 years and most of them with Packard.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement, AND what has been your greatest obstacle?

Being part of building a company that is highly respected in the industry for our business integrity and commitment to our employees, customers and suppliers.  Packard was a small company when I started and today, we are responsible for 90+ employees and their families.  To that end, the most recent transition from being privately owned to an employee owned - ESOP where every employee is ultimately part of defining our future success  - that makes me very proud to have been part of. 

As far as my greatest obstacle, I have had momentary challenges but never anything that I felt I personally or professionally couldn’t overcome with perseverance and hard work. 

I think the most difficult period in my professional career was during a time that business was really down around 1990 and we were restructuring the business.  I learned that during the really tough times, and we all will have them, that communication, even when you have bad news is always important.  Keeping people informed of your intent and then sticking to your plan is important.  Communication and relationship building in the good times, help others know your integrity during the hard times.

How would you sum up your experience in the industry?

As I begin my succession planning in preparation for retirement in a few years I would sum up my experience in the industry as unique and fulfilling.  I am not sure how many women can say that when they reach my age.  I have been able to make a difference with Packard in the industry and raise a wonderful family. 

What benefits do you feel being a Woman in the HVACR industry has had for you?

I think opportunities were given to me that I might not have had in other industries especially at a time when there were not many women in our industry.  I am so thankful to have so many great, hardworking, intelligent women that have found this industry and I hope that continues. 

Tell me about your company and your roll within the company, how has that changed over the years?

I began as an accounting clerk and became the office manager quickly.  As our company grew and evolved into what it is today, I was never scared to tackle any job that needed accomplishing.  At some point I woke up and had the President’s title, which I tell people simple means that I do whatever it takes to keep the company growing and evolving.  Somedays that means I help set up a booth for a convention and other days I cry with employees when life happens to them.

What would be your advice to a new female in our industry?

I had a great woman tell me early on that just because I was a female in a male dominated industry I didn’t have to act like a man.  Stay true to who you are and work hard.  Don’t expect any special treatment just because you are a woman, expect special treatment because you earn it. Learn the industry and the products. 

Tell me about yourself personally- Hobbies, Family, Sports, How do you stay grounded?

The only way I stay grounded is through my Christian faith, it defines who I am and on a good day, everything I do.  I have a wonderful husband that prays for me every day and reminds me to slow down and take life one day at a time and we can only do our best and that must be good enough.  We love to spend time with our children and grandchildren and our dog Bella.  We love to travel and read and just enjoy today.

Where did you go to school? Degree?

I attended Marietta-Cobb Vocational school and received my Accounting degree.  There was a time I felt ashamed of my vocational degree, but today I am so thankful for that school and the opportunities I have received.  College is not for everyone; I received a wonderful education and it has served me well.

What are your future plans?

I have a few more goals I want to accomplish at Packard then I hope to successfully transition this wonderful company to the next set of skilled hands to take Packard to the next level.  My goal is for Packard to serve this industry and the families it represents for many decades to come

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10 Unique Ways to Practice Positivity
Erica Leonor, Power Selling Pros

You know how there are just some people who are naturally positive? Like they just came out of the womb that way? They are always smiling and optimistic to the point that it’s slightly aggravating because there’s NO WAY someone could be that happy? Yes, we all know these people. We think they are just born that way.

That’s actually not the case it is though. People aren’t just born positive. There are no Harry Potter wands waving and blessing some babies with positivity while others are passed by. This is not how it is. Positivity is a learned attribute and principle. It is something that is practiced with intention

So yes, maybe there are those people who have grown up their entire lives as an optimist and they don’t know anything different. There is nothing wrong with that. They learned this principle, developed it, cultivated it, and practiced it their entire lives. They grew up with positive parents and had a cheerful environment. This is why it is easy to say “It just comes naturally. They were born with it.”

Yet there are also so many more people who don’t grow up like that. They grow up in negative environments instead. Yet how do they develop a positive disposition? Well—they practice it. Especially in difficult circumstances, we all have to be more intentional about staying positive and cheerful consistently.

Living intentionally means that no matter how frustrated I am at my spouse, I am still going to tell them thank you every night before I go to bed. It means that even when I get negative feedback from someone, I smile and say thank you. It means that when others tell me I’m not good enough, I smile and prove them wrong. It means that if a traumatic event happens in my life, I get out and serve someone else. This is what it means to be intentional.

And when we are consciously intentional, we take control of our reality. Positivity is practiced. That means if you want to be more positive person, here are 10 things you can do to start this practice today.

  • Write down 10 things you are grateful for everyday for a week
  • Sing at the top of your lungs to your favorite song on your way to work
  • Dance in the kitchen
  • Tell someone at work thank you, just to say thank you
  • Go mow your neighbor’s lawn or weed their flower bed
  • Compliment a friend or family member on their new car or shoes
  • Make someone feel important
  • Spend $10 at a lemonade stand- support those young business owners!
  • Walk 1 mile
  • Tell someone you love them
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Women in HVACR Facing Hurdles Despite Massive Technician Shortage

I have a request on my desk from a female HVACR technician, currently at the top of her class, asking for “tips to get hired in HVACR as a woman”. How can this be in 2019? Her male counterparts are not having any trouble finding employment. Employers are all desperate to find qualified help. So why are women struggling to find jobs?

Unfortunately, it’s a common problem. Vocational high school co-op students and post-grad female HVACR techs are facing hiring hurdles, despite a massive shortage of trained HVACR technicians.

Let us face two facts. Women make up half of the workforce and we have a significant shortage of technicians. Why are employers choosing to ignore half the talent population?

When pressed, employers cite concerns over sexual harassment and/or greater risk of injury and worker’s compensation claims as reasons for the hiring hesitation. Are women really a greater hiring risk? Or are we just not comfortable with hiring women into a male dominated field? Women all over the country are doing this job and doing it well. True, some have experienced sexual harassment. But sexual harassment has occurred in other fields too. Why would we believe that sexual harassment is more likely to occur in HVACR than any other job? Simply because there is a higher male to female ratio? It could be argued that women going into a field that they are fully aware is dominated by men, may make them more prepared to deal with confrontations and therefore less likely to “frivolously” or erroneously sue, making it potentially less of a risk than other industries.

The question of an increased risk of injury to women working in the HVACR field, due to a difference in body type or muscle mass, can be answered by finding ways to work smarter rather than harder. Though there is undoubtedly some heavy lifting required in the field, it is not all just brute force. Many tools exist to assist ALL technicians with the burdens of heavy lifting. Utilizing these tools will enable women to be a more productive part of the HVACR team and preserve the health of all technicians, big and small.

Despite these perceived hurdles, women show a keen aptitude for problem solving and excel in the field of HVACR. At the recent HVAC Excellence trade show in Las Vegas, Frank Pearson, an educator at Riverside City College in California, said “Women know they are in a male dominated industry and work twice as hard…they always set the standard for the classroom.” It’s likely that given the chance, women will also set the standard in the workplace. But first, employers must give them the opportunity.

Angie Snow, Vice President with Western Heating and Air Conditioning, hired her our first woman in 2012. Angie shared the following “we hired her based on her positive attitude and willingness to learn, not because she was a woman. Had I known what I do now, I would have prepared my team better. They tested her and made things difficult. However, she was able to prove herself as a very capable and knowledgeable maintenance technician and did better tune ups that any of my male techs had previously done. She has been with me for over seven years and has quadrupled her salary in that time”.

Angie shares the following tips to recruit and retain women.

  1. Create an environment that is conducive, open and welcoming to women.
  2. Let your team know that you are actively seeking female technicians and open their mind to it.
  3. Set expectations as to how women should be treated and definitely discuss sexual harassment.
  4. Create several online videos for our company with a female technician. Put female techs in your marketing ads... Let people know you hire women!
  5. Have your team help you recruit women.

Angie also credits her success to an openness to considering flexible schedules to meet personal scheduling needs related to raising a family.


Marcia Christiansen, National Sales Manager, PECO

Karen Lamy DeSousa, President, Advance Air & Heat Co., Inc.

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Guest Contributor

The 5 w’s, also known as the who, what, when, where and why questions, are used for many purposes to gather information into easily understandable buckets. When applied to HVAC and Refrigeration service calls, they ensure that all necessary information is gathered to properly prioritize and dispatch calls for a service business. Below is an example of how the 5 W’s can be applied to help with dispatching:

 Who Who am I speaking to? Who am I billing? Who is our site contact?
 What                  What is the issue? What kind of equipment? What has been done previously?
 When                 When can we schedule? When was maintenance last done?
 Where  Where is the job address? Where is the unit located in facility? Where should the tech park? Where is the roof access? Where is the water access?
 Why                    Why is there a need for maintenance? Why did your maintenance lapse? Why hasn’t the existing customer that called in a while?

All information above can then be relayed to the service tech(s) responding to the call. When the work is completed, all the W’s can be asked to the technician to determine work order status.

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Mentorship Program for Women in HVACR
Karen Lamy DeSousa, WHVAC Executive Board Member and President of Advance Air & Heat

The WHVACR Mentorship Program helps bring together women who support each other and help further career, personal goals and confidence. At this time, we are actively seeking mentors in all sectors of the industry to provide career advice, networking support and a sympathetic ear to other women. Sign up today to be the mentor you always wished you had!

WHVACR is currently 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 contact the WHVACR Mentorship and Education Committee by email at or fill out an application online at our website.


Don't miss the Women in HVACR 16th Annual Conference as we explore:
Join us for this exciting event as you reconnect with old friends and network with other women leaders in the HVACR industry.
Here's what you'll enjoy at this pleasure-packed event:
Women make up a small—but fast-growing—segment of home service professionals. ServiceTitan spoke to a few of them about their expanding role in the industry.

Women have been an integral part of our workforce for quite some time now, but the trades is still one area where they’re underrepresented. Recent numbers put the percentage of female workers in the U.S. workforce at 47 percent. Yet, it's estimated that only about 1.4 percent of plumbers and pipefitters are women—and that only one percent of HVAC and refrigeration workers are women, as well.

Because ServiceTitan works with thousands of contractors and home service shops, we have the privilege of working with some of the prominent and top performing women in the industry. We asked owners, administrators, technicians, and managers across the plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and garage door repair industries to talk about their experience as a woman in the trades and give advice to women considering these professions. Here’s what they said:

What’s it like to be a woman in the trades?

Part of the reason we associate men with the home services is because we assume that they’re more suited for the work. When we spoke with women working in the home services, however, we found professionals who not only seemed to be in their element, but could even defy expectations in a way that benefits both shops and homeowners.

“It is challenging and rewarding. I love being able to make customers smile, to provide them with an expert they can depend on when needed, and the ability to earn their business for life.



Lori Tschohl is the managing member of Eagle Pipe and Mechanical, an HVAC contractor specializing in commercial gas pipe. Eagle Pipe and Mechanical is a preferred contractor with two of the major utility companies in Washington State.

Lori has a unique journey to owning an HVAC company, Lori’s career started as a McDonald's crew member over 35 years ago. She climbed the ladder to a ten million dollar franchise in 2011, then in 2012 Lori began two Pandora Jewelry stores in Idaho and Utah. Since May of 2019 she is now full time focusing on the growth and development of Eagle Pipe and Mechanical.

Lori has received numerous awards for community and charity, and a supporter of Ronald McDonald House Charities in New York and Washington.

Lori was the recipient of the Women of Influence Award from the New York Business Journal in 2010.

If you would like to be an Ambassador, please click here.

"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself."  --Oprah Winfrey?"
8 Reasons to Have a Mentor
  1. Been there and done that. Achieved what you have already pursued. Already been Through struggles, made mistakes, and will share.
  2. Talk to someone who is an unbiased 3rd party. They are not your mother, putting personal feelings above fact. Most are emotionally invested in you and can look at past for what they are – they don’t need to support you, they only care about your results.
  3. Have a whole different network of contacts and connections, swimming with bigger fish, facilitate access and open doors for you. Deem worthy to introduce you to others in their network.
  4. Best free service you can ever get. Real mentor wants you to succeed, not for financial gain, but for you to grow, feeds their own soul.  They call you out on your short coming that you don’t see. Help you where you fail to see big picture, get rid of ego.
  5. May introduce you to a carrier or business opportunity you did not know of before connect multiple dots that may be out of reach for you.
  6. You can stay in business longer, they already have made a ton of expensive mistakes. They can warn you ahead of time or if you are already in it, how to come out of it. Increasing your chances of surviving.  Only 20% of business survive 1st year, only ½ get to year 5.
  7. Representation of your goals. Easier to reach if you have a clear destination of where you are going.
  8. Understand the struggle – Very few around you go through the same struggles. Know what its likes to work 14 to 15 hours per day. Share your core values. They see themselves in you, relate to your story, to your struggles.
Thank you to all the WHVACR 2019

Sponsor Spotlight: Packard

"I had a great woman tell me early on that just because I was a female in a male dominated industry I didn’t have to act like a man.  Stay true to who you are and work hard.  Don’t expect any special treatment just because you are a woman, expect special treatment because you earn it. Learn the industry and the products" - Susan Kirkland