Submitted by HB McClure Company
Women in the male-dominated field of commercial/industrial HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) are challenging the industry stereotype, proving their value and helping fill a labor gap.
Many baby boomers have reached the ends of their careers, and many more will retire within the next 10 years. That is leading to a severe shortage of skilled trades workers and other roles that support the industry, making it necessary to look outside of the usual job pool to fill empty positions.
The team at HB McClure Company believes it can play a leading role in encouraging new female talent to consider a career in an industry that is experiencing a global trades shortage. Drawn to careers in HVAC commercial services, the women of HB McClure enjoy the risks and range of the job. Four of the firm’s female employees share their stories, all full of optimism, enthusiasm and engagement.
Kara Boeckel, an HVAC technician, is one of many women who found a professional pathway in the commercial services industry, starting with the company as a technician, and now working as a preventive maintenance coordinator. As Boeckel puts it, “When you go to a nursing home and the heater isn’t working, you not only fix it but you’ve taken care of bringing warmth to someone’s grandmother, and she’s thanking you. Working in HVAC is very rewarding.” She adds, “I don’t see being a female as a weakness. I see it as a strength.”
Shelly Matter, director of business development, is another who did not allow gender disparity to become a barrier. She has been in the commercial/industrial HVAC industry for over 20 years. “Working in the industry is not limited to being a technician,” she says. “This is a win-win for women who are looking for rock-solid career opportunities and commercial contractors are in dire need of talent.” Matter entered the industry as a single mom with three daughters. She saw commercial HVAC as a business that would always be needed: “a necessary service no matter what.”
Kelly Overlander was the owner of a successful hair salon. She sold her business and joined the mechanical trades industry. “I went from human beauty to helping beautify buildings,” she says. As a new business development representative at McClure, she loves what she does. “My job delivers a variety of challenges and many opportunities for professional growth,” she adds. “The best part is meeting wonderful customers and helping solve their commercial HVAC problems.” The collection of shoes she carries in her car, from heavy boots to pumps, attests to the different environments she finds herself in on the job: attending networking events and meeting with clients in their offices or on job sites.
Angela Klingler, a new business developer at HB McClure, says, “Start by making a bigger impact at home. With children, from an early age, don’t stigmatize dish washing or laundry or fixing cars as ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ chores.” Klingler knows first-hand that this approach works. She worked beside her mechanic father at age 5, helping him by handing over whatever tool he asked for when repairing cars. She’s now walking the walk with her 9-year-old daughter who wants to start her own business designing T-shirts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC employment is expected to increase 15% through 2026. The growth rate, coupled with the current labor shortage, means technicians are needed to fill the estimated 115,000 new positions the industry expects to be available by 2022.