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It is almost as if Audrey Monell needs no introduction. Over the past year, Monell received awards and media recognition within and outside of the plumbing, heating, cooling and piping (PHCP) industry. In fact, our own PHC News spotlighted Monell and her business; championing her as a leader committed to her customers, her employees, quality work and integrity.
Monell’s company, Forrest Anderson Plumbing & Air Conditioning Inc., is a third-generation family-owned business with 70 years of history. Monell took over the company in 2008 after earning her B.S. in Economics from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.
As the July 2019 spotlighted woman for Women In PHCP, Monell discussed just why she chose the PHCP industry and how she hopes to see the industry progress with career opportunities for women.
PHCPPros: How did you get into the industry?
Monell: I got into the industry because Forrest Anderson is a family business founded by my grandfather. As a young child, I grew up helping out around the business with small tasks. Later, I earned a rodeo and academic scholarship to Texas Tech University, but soon realized the best opportunity to make a difference was back in Phoenix to help with the business while I earned my economics degree at Arizona State University. Upon graduating, I was presented with the opportunity to become president of Forrest Anderson and run the business.
PHCPPros: Do you have women in the industry that have mentored you?
Monell: There are two women that I believe have helped guide and shape me into the woman I am today. Dolores V. Anderson was my grandma and the founding matriarch of Forrest Anderson. She was one of the most smart, hardworking, and classy ladies I have ever known. I am very grateful for her incredibly business-minded, witty and self-motivated personality. Dolores and Forrest started this business in 1961. She ran the office and he ran the calls. My grandma ran this company in such a way that she had the full respect and admiration of all of her employees. And, keep in mind, she was a leader of an even more male-dominated industry as compared to today.
Another woman whom I try to emulate is my mom, and best friend. After she married my dad in 1981, she started being an integral part of the company. She worked and learned about the industry from the tutelage of my grandma, which could not have been easy because grandma was strict!
I have been very fortunate to have learned and continue to learn from these two women. My grandma was a true female pioneer in the industry, she would have been the definition of an Athena. My mom has taught me more than I can put onto paper. Watching her run this business instilled the confidence in me to get me where I am today, to not question my decisions, and to stand up for what I think is the path for my company.
PHCPPros: Do you mentor other women in the industry?
Monell: Last year, I worked with other tradeswomen to organize a “Women in Industry” workshop to encourage young women to consider career options in specialty trades. The half-day workshop was run by women who worked in the plumbing and HVAC industries who could share their experiences as technicians, distributors, sales professionals, human resources professionals, and business owners. I also look for any chance to speak with young women about the opportunities for a good career in the HVAC industry.
PHCPPros: Is there anything else that you want to note?
Monell: As a woman in the industry, there are sometimes extra steps that I need to take in order to create a positive working environment for my company and employees. Some may see this as a burden, but I see it as leading with compassion for the people that I am working with. I’ve discovered I’ve been a more successful leader when I put the wellbeing of others, particularly my employees and customers, at the forefront. I believe in treating everyone with the utmost respect, including myself. If I feel a colleague is not being respectful to me or someone in the company or if I have not treated someone fairly, I prefer to address it in a calm manner that brings along a positive outcome. I call these “teachable moments.” This phrase has become a known phrase in my office. No one is perfect and everyone will make a mistake, but having a culture of owning up to those mistakes and learning from them is how I believe women can create a positive company culture and become leaders in every industry.