I didn’t enter this industry, I grew up in it. I come from a “science-y” family. Questions were asked and answered. My parents would even ask questions to make us figure things out. If human comfort or weather questions arose, the sling psychrometer and psychrometric chart would appear.
I was in my first mechanical room when I was nine years old. I’m one of three kids in the family, so it was always a treat when it was your turn to go on a motorcycle ride with my dad. That particular Saturday morning, the destination was a new office building in Arlington, VA where an air handler he had sold was being started. He wanted to check in on the start-up technicians and make sure everything was going okay.
When I was 12, my dad started his own manufacturer’s representative firm selling HVAC equipment. He focused on chillers, cooling towers, air handlers, filtration, and terminal equipment. The entire family would work on mailers several times a year: folding, stuffing, sticking, and stamping. (I can still fold a perfect tri-fold letter with the address in the envelope window every time.) Soon my mom, an accountant, was doing the bookkeeping. Dinner talk was business talk. My sisters and I worked various jobs over the years: bid take-offs (counting thousands of VAV boxes and temperature sensors), typing master specs for equipment, answering phones, invoice and address data entry, network engineer, parts sales, weekend janitorial. But my first job was rebuilding sales catalogs. Pre-internet, every manufacturer had binders full of their product data that had to be regularly updated. Sales engineers would bring new binders out to a client and I’d update the old ones. I got to look at product and sales data for every piece of equipment my dad’s company sold. I went on sales calls, construction site visits, and owner trainings. I even got to help repair some equipment!
Sometime in high school I decided that I wanted to sell HVAC equipment for my career. We visited Penn State’s Architectural Engineering program because it prepared you for a career in the building industry. I was impressed and excited about the program.
My dad said he’d hire me after I spent a few years as a consulting engineer. I found Summer Consultants at the career fair and applied for an internship. The key draw for me was the commute and parking situation would be better than the downtown and Arlington firms. I had fun that summer, working many a late hour, mostly on the Smithsonian’s African American Art Museum and Washington Monument Restoration. I interned a second summer. By November of my final year at Penn State, I had a job offer from Summer Consultants. I interviewed with a few other firms, but decided to stay with Summer Consultants. Two years in, I forgot about the desire to sell equipment because I was having so much fun designing systems. And, I’m still having fun!