Things Have Come A Long Way Baby!
In May of 1982 my dad asked me if I could come help him, for the summer, because his service contract department bookkeeper was leaving. Since he had just finished paying my college tuition, I really couldn’t say, “No.” I mean it was only for the summer, right? This was a man’s field; I had absolutely no interest in running the company.
In December of 1990, after I continued training through all departments in the company, my dad retired and I purchased the business. So much for a summer job! He knew what he was doing when he asked me to help.
December of 1991, Bob Baker of Bob Bakers Golden’s Service in Bowie, MD, stopped by to discuss joining ACCA. He was the past president of the ACCA National Capital Chapter (ACCA-NCC) and after his VERY long selling discussion, I agreed to join. One thing led to another and next thing I knew I was on the ACCA-NCC Board of Directors.
Of course I had a few challenges to overcome to get there.
Just imagine, the men on the boards before me had not really worked with women in the board room at all, much less someone who was plopped in a position and had A LOT to learn about the industry. But, I couldn’t have been with a better group. They taught me way more than I would have learned at any class by mentoring and networking with me.
To say that there weren’t some awkward moments wouldn’t really be true. I mean come on; they had never really had to deal with women in the board room, except a few strong women before me. We still had a bit of the “Good Old Boys” network going on, but I didn’t care. I worked with mostly men all day long. I could hold my own, but at times I just felt like I wasn’t the person they wanted sitting next to them, it was just that obvious. I guess they figured I wasn’t going to leave, everything settled down, they accepted me. I am extremely grateful for their friendship and their advice, business or personal.
After eight years of preparation on the board, I was ready to be the first, and to-date only, woman president of ACCA-NCC. I certainly was up for the challenge and VERY excited. As president you know what’s going on in our field before anyone else does and you know women LOVE to be the first to know!
On a serious note, we were right at the beginning of all of the utility programs in Maryland and big changes in our industry, so everyday there was a lot of new information and so many people wanting to discuss it with me. It was a really exciting time in our association and in my life. It took a bit of adjustment on the part of our Executive Director, Pat Lupson, too. She obviously never had a female president and certainly not one who liked to “run” things. Pat had no problem running our association for many, many years. But, I was one who wanted to be involved, wanted to know “why” and “how” we did this and that and we surely challenged each other. I learned so much from Pat. We continue to be very close friends.
Now, as very past president, I get questions like: “How did your dad get you to come to work in the business?” and “What are we going to fight for in the legislature this year?” as well as, “How is your business doing?” “How is your family?” I think women coming into the HVACR workforce was a huge change in our industry, but a well received change once they realized what we had to offer!
Of course the proof is out there for all to see. This past March, Laura DiFilippo of DiFilippo’s Service Company took the helm as ACCA National’s chairman. And, last month when I attended the ACCA-NCC board meeting and there are now three women on the board. Just about the whole right side of the table was women! Two of them are past president’s daughters. It’s so nice to see strong men helping to build strong women in the industry.
We’ve come a long way since the 80s. Women have a lot to offer to this industry and we are thankful to be accepted into such a sensational association as ACCA.
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