Some view the HVAC industry as a male-dominated industry. However, many women wake up every morning and play a role in changing that perception.
The ACHR NEWS wanted to highlight and honor some of those individuals, so we have created the Top Women in HVAC list. All of these women have made a mark on the HVAC industry and continue to do so. While they serve in different areas of the industry, each is making a contribution to both improve the industry and make it a more welcoming career for females.
The ACHR NEWS plans for this to be an annual list.
“This is a great collection of women,” said Kyle Gargaro, editorial director of The ACHR NEWS. “Although we could only honor 20, we received over 400 nominations. It gives us great pleasure to honor these individuals for the important roles that each play in the HVAC industry.”
Title: General Manager
Company: AMHAC (All Makes Heating & Air Conditioning Corporation).
Educational Experience: MBA, Boston University
Industry Work Experience:
- General Manager of AMHAC, 12 years
- Nate Testing Proctor
- Awarded 2021 Carrier President’s Award by Carrier Enterprise
- Awarded 2021 Best Places to Work in Westchester by 914INC, Westchester Magazine
- Awarded 2020 Best Family-Owned Business by Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journal
What caused you to/when did you enter the HVACR industry?
I began my career at AMHAC in 2009. With the economy in a deep recession, and high unemployment in 2009, I was laid off as an insurance sales manager, and I half-heartedly answered the call to an entry-level customer service position. Throughout each stage of my career, I made an effort to think big, working not only to learn items related to my current position but also to acquire an understanding of the entire business and the industry. I was guided by the president of AMHAC along with a few of AMHAC’s top influencers who believed in my potential.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in HVACR?
My career has allowed me to work in a variety of settings, competences, and interact with highly influential people. I have been able to enjoy a variety of positions throughout my career within customer service, accounting, sales, and management. I have the ability to travel to seminars across the county, interact with distributors at events, and interchangeably work from home, be in the office, or spend time visiting clients homes.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
At the beginning of 2020, I sat with AMHAC’s sales team and mapped out individual sales goals that ultimately aligned with AMHAC winning Carrier’s President’s Award. It was the epicenter of the pandemic, NYC, the height of COVID-19, and 75% of our staff were laid off. We eventually rehired all our employees, each one returning to work without protest, and we also ended up hiring new employees. Our sales engineers implemented a new sales proposal app, and we won Carrier’s President’s Award for the first time in AMHAC’s 60-plus-year history. While I do often emphasize the importance of winning awards, it wasn’t the award I was most proud of but the feeling of victory that united us. My team entrusted me to lead them, and we all relied on one another to fulfill each person’s individual duty, which ultimately led to our success.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?
Unfortunately, because of the lack of women in the industry, we don’t have many mentors to measure a successful career. Since most women are introduced to the HVACR world through a family business, the roadmap to success does not always leave consistent clues to follow. We need to start with letting young women know there is tremendous growth opportunity in the industry, especially since we all are challenged every day by the drain in our labor force. We must interact with more high schools about the skilled trades as a debt-free career option. The industry itself is high in demand as HVAC systems are everywhere, and the jobs can’t be outsourced, removed by automation, or decreased in demand — even in economic downturns or pandemics. Secondly, the female market is an underdeveloped opportunity, possibly the No. 1 opportunity for women. For those who really understand their buyer power, what better way to appeal to this market than to have another woman sales rep or service technician show up at a house call?
How can we increase the number of women in HVACR?
Having more women in positions to recruit and hire is a great way to start. You attract what you are, and the recruiting process is where you sell your company and what it can offer. The more women in the recruiting phase, the more women they can attract. As a women, be an inspiration, a success, and courageous, and people will naturally ask what you do for a living. One conversation at a time.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
I am either repairing or preparing, fixing today because someone did something wrong yesterday, or I am preparing for tomorrow because my team is doing something right today. My morning routine always begins with reading emails and the previous day’s service reports. I also examine the distribution of labor in both our installation and service departments. I focus my daily agenda departmentally. One day’s focus will be on marketing/recruiting, the next accounting, customer service, and weekly frontline staff meetings (service and install). I try to group my attention departmentally so we all learn through teams, and I can hold individuals accountable to the team. Throughout the day, I send hundreds of emails to vendors and or other partnerships AMHAC has formed. I always find time to speak to a customer (happy or upset), to keep my ears close to the streets, and to give surprise recognition to staff with a job well done.
What drives/motivates you every day?
I believe in God, and the best way I can express His greatness and display my gratitude is through a strong vision for my life by setting and achieving tough goals and becoming the very best version of myself along the way.
I became an American citizen in my early 20s (I was born in Canada), and since then I knew I had absolutely no excuse to not become a success. I am driven to achieve beyond expectations for my own sake and everyone else’s. I have a team of 50+ employees that need to be proud of who and what company they work for. With competition so cutthroat, a company must bring more than money to the table, and the leader must inspire greatness and create a culture of teamwork and belonging.
What remains on your HVACR bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
I would accept the challenges involved with AMHAC acquiring another small company to obtain new talent.
What advice do you have for prospective females who are considering entering the HVACR field?
Find a mentor who is willing to guide you. Outwork, outperform, and educate yourself in every area you wish to hold a position. At this time in HVACR, as a woman, you will have to work twice as hard to gain the same respect as a man, but don’t take it personally. Be consistent and dependable, and eventually your work ethic alone will rise above 90% of the talent out there.