Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC) and Madison Association of Plumbing Contractors (MAPC) are showcasing the women of General Heating and Air Conditioning as part of Women in Construction Week, March 3-9, 2019.
In the late 1940’s, General Heating and Air Conditioning began as a heating service company. Over the years, the business grew and added air conditioning services, new construction, a metal shop, and grew as a company. In 1994, Hooper Corporation bought General Heating and Air Conditioning as a wholly owned subsidiary. Over the last 25 years, the company has continued to flourish throughout Madison and Wisconsin.
“We are proud of the women who work on the General Heating and Air Conditioning team,” said President Brad Werlein. “They are strong contributors both in the field and in the office. The significant roles they hold within the organization are key to success we all enjoy.”
General Heating and Air Conditioning’s philosophy is simple: ‘Do whatever it takes to do the job right.’ One way they are doing the job right is they have hired the right people within their company. Their employees are passionate about what they do and eager to help people.
Lynette Lathrop is an 18-year veteran of the trades and Sheet Metal Journeyman with General Heating and Air Conditioning.
“(I) liked to build things using my hands,” explained Lathrop as why she pursued a career in the construction industry. “I wanted to make a living while I was learning.”
Sarah Martin, a fourth year Steamfitter Apprentice, was drawn to the industry because she was interested in, “having a career, not just another job, and doing something I enjoy and am good at.”
Working hard day-in and day-out on a project can be grueling, but when the project is completed, the reward of stepping back and seeing your hard work come to fruition is priceless. That is an amazing reward, but not the only one for our women in the construction industry.
“Being accepted as a woman in this industry, and having mutual respect with all the men I work with on a daily basis,” is the most rewarding aspect of Rhonda McGettigan’s career, a Project Manager with General Heating and Air Conditioning, who has been in the construction industry for 30 years.
For Heather Appenfeldt, a Steamfitter Apprentice for Refrigeration and Service, learning something new each day is her incentive.
“Technology changes so much, so quickly, the new challenges keep me going,” explained Appenfeldt.
“HVAC is fast-paced, with a broad range of customers and technologies,” said JoAnne Revolinski, General Heating and Air Conditioning’s Service Operations Manager. “Working in the service field is very gratifying. It feels good when the team can fix a system quickly when a customer is struggling without heat or air conditioning.”
Carol Mori, Project Engineer with 34 years of experience, enjoys fixing problems and helping her customers.
“Getting the concern or issue fixed, and making sure the client or occupant is comfortable,” Mori explained as the most rewarding aspect of her career.
Loving your career and what you do also comes with its challenges. Lathrop is the only woman in the shop and may not physically be able to do everything that her male counterparts can do, but that does not discourage her. She works harder to prove she is capable of completing the project.
“Any time you are the minority in the field, you do need to work harder to gain others’ respect,” said Revolinski.
Women continue to break down the glass ceiling and show their value as they pave the way for the next generation.
Caryn Rader, a Design Engineer with the company, shares, “We need intelligent, dedicated women in this industry! Never let the attitudes and actions of a few discourage you from following what you’re good at!”
Martin had no idea her position in the steamfitting industry existed or she would have started her apprenticeship right out of high school, and she encourages young ladies to just, “Go For It!”
“The field is continuously growing with new opportunities for women in both the trades and support positions,” advised Revolinski.
McGettigan’s advice for young girls is to be fearless.
“Don’t be afraid to learn and take risks,” said McGettigan. “When I first started out in this industry, I was working in the accounting department of a small, family owned HVAC company. I was quickly moved into the service dispatch position, as well as assisting the Service Manager. From there, I assisted in the estimating department, eventually working my way up to a Project Manager.”
Mori has daughters that are not pursuing a career in the construction industry, but her advice to them is the same as it would be for her future coworkers.
“Whatever your definition of success is, YOU will be successful in whatever you do if YOU: ENJOY what you are doing; have FUN doing it; LEARN something new every day; and always give 100%,” said Mori.
These women have found successful careers with General Heating and Air Conditioning, and look to help the next generation as they begin their careers in the construction industry.