Building a Brand: A Tradeswoman’s Journey From Plunger to Boardroom


“These hard and soft skills, from problem-solving to effective communication and time management, are paramount for personal and professional development.”

– Debra Held
National Director of Plumbing Services
Air Pros USA


My journey in the trades began in my family’s commercial and residential new construction plumbing business. As my personal growth evolved in my family’s business, I supervised an office staff of seven and up to 80 technicians while having to step into every role at a moment’s notice. My responsibilities included hiring, technician job scheduling, contract negotiations, oversight of our estimating and procurement departments, and all the service operations. I had to quickly adapt and learn to be proactive, elevate my critical thinking skills, and hone my ability to creatively solve unexpected issues to set myself up for success early on. This is not unique to my journey, and skilled tradespeople encounter unplanned challenges daily and must utilize strong problem-solving strategies to overcome them. After 14 years, I decided to venture out on my own and start my own business. The leadership skills and industry knowledge I accumulated led to the development of a thriving plumbing company focused on residential and commercial service and repair that was then sold to a large HVAC and refrigeration company.

I am now the National Director of Plumbing Operations of Drain Genie under the Air Pros USA brand, and I have risen in the ranks due to my hard work and through collaborations with exceptional tradespeople throughout my career. A career in the trades industry requires tradespeople to hone important skills such as customer service, taking ownership of projects, and advocating for themselves. These soft skills are transferable to real life and any customer-facing roles and will help in building a strong network of professionals to lean on through hard times. Relationship building is an exceptionally important skill in my experience of pursuing a career in the trade services industry, with both customers and colleagues. Through my over 35-year tenure the knowledge that I have gained, and the growth opportunities that I have experienced due to the relationships I have cultivated and learning by example are irreplaceable.
As an organizational leader, I have spearheaded numerous strategic business development projects focused on growing the bottom line from start to finish. I have seen the greatest impact on business growth come from building a cohesive brand image. There are several different ways to build your company’s overall brand image, but the most fruitful in my experience has been working to cultivate a company culture that is focused on integrity. Building a brand image focused on customer satisfaction and care builds trust and credibility, allowing your business to reach your customer base on a personal level rather than just a professional level. Company culture informs all business practices and is the foundation for long-term business success. HVAC, electrical, and plumbing professionals know the fear and frustration that occurs when vital appliances stop working, and customers need to know that they can trust your company to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Employees also need to know that there are values that motivate company practices to improve their job satisfaction. Building a company culture based on integrity ensures that all representatives of the company, from field technicians to boardroom executives, are focused on creating the best outcomes and experiences for customers.

Defining clear values and guidelines for quality assurance shows customers they can trust your business to treat them with fairness and honesty. This can also lead to increased networking and collaboration opportunities with other businesses through reaching a wider audience. The HVAC, electrical, and plumbing trades are relationship-oriented, so building up your brand can connect you with other professionals in your network that can benefit the industry overall. Building a strong brand separates your business from competitors and builds trust between staff and customers. An investment in employees is an investment in your organization’s brand, and vice versa. Your company’s brand reputation is a powerful tool in recruiting and retaining staff.

I’m happy to serve as a mentor for the next generation, sharing a few highlights from my journey and advocating for more career awareness around trades industry positions to motivate more people to explore careers in this rewarding field. These hard and soft skills, from problem-solving to effective communication and time management, are paramount for personal and professional development. Building brand recognition is essential to ensuring your organization’s overall success in the industry.

By encouraging more people to explore career paths in HVAC, electrical, and plumbing trades, we pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future. I hope that by shedding light on my journey others will feel encouraged to explore a career path within this exciting and rewarding field. I feel a sense of personal and professional responsibility to share what I have learned from my wide range of work in developing businesses from the ground up in HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, encompassing everything from strategic planning to building customer relationships in commercial, residential, and mechanical contexts.

Contact Drain Genie Today!

Are you in need of help with your bathroom plumbing in Florida? Whether it’s a quick fix, a replacement, or an installation of an important component, know that you can rely on the plumbers at Drain Genie for expert help! Contact Drain Genie today for 5 star services!