Wolseley Canada, one of the country’s top wholesale distributors of plumbing and heating products, recently sponsored Herzing College’s Women in Trades event and announced three new scholarships.
Wolseley representative Jill Breeze was part of the team that made the announcement. She has been involved in the HVAC field for over 30 years and strongly encourages women to pursue trades careers.
We spoke with Jill to learn more about her experience and perspective. Read on for the highlights.
Q. Jill, can you share a bit about your background?
Jill: I started off in the HVAC industry at 20 years of age as an inside sales representative at Lennox Industries. I quickly learned the basic fundamentals of HVAC, which included how to match an HVAC system per specifications. I learned this through engineering manuals and product data.
I continued to expand my industry technical knowledge by attending the manufacturer’s courses on basic electrical and HVAC training. In addition, I took my gas fitter’s ticket via night school to deepen my understanding and earn more respect from customers.
I’ve spent 30+ years in HVAC. Most of this time was spent with three of the top North American manufacturers—Lennox, Carrier Corp, and Emerson. All of these companies were supportive of women.
Over the course of my career, I’ve obtained a lot of knowledge and understanding from working in roles such as counter sales, inside sales, outside sales, and service sales. I’ve travelled across Ontario, visiting job sites, contractors, trade shows, and home shows.
Two of my most memorable experiences were riding in an outdoor elevator 50 floors up the side of a newly built condo in downtown Toronto and standing in the basement of Sunnybrook Hospital looking at their chiller.
It’s been truly eye-opening, and I have met some great people along the way in my career journey.
I can’t take all the credit myself because I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of great people. I think I was just in the right place at the right time for success.
Q. What is your current role at Wolseley?
Jill: Right now I’m in Dealer Development, which is about supporting and driving sales through Wolseley’s dedicated branded HVAC dealers and executing the branded manufacturer’s programs.
I also belong to the Women of Wolseley Business Resource Group. WOW is an avenue for me to connect with other ladies on work, home life, and anything in general. We are a group that supports one another on so many different levels.
Q. What was your message at the Women in Trades event?
Jill: I hear a lot of buzz about women not being accepted. I don’t think I allowed that to even enter my mind. So, the message I had for the attendees was: Go to work with the right attitude. Keep an open mind. Learn as much as you can.
The key thing is to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself.
This phrase really resonates with me: You can tell who the strong women are because they’re the ones building each other up instead of tearing each other down. It’s true.
Q. Have you encountered any obstacles as a woman in this industry?
Jill: I’ve been very fortunate. In my whole career, I’ve only had one negative experience, and it was with a woman, not a male colleague. And it wasn’t until later. If it happened when I was younger, I might have gone off the deep end.
I empathize with some of the younger folks. There are some great people out there, but all it takes is one bad experience to set somebody back.
Q. Why would you encourage women to pursue an HVAC career?
Jill: I see plenty of opportunities within the HVAC industry—everything from technicians who are currently in high demand to sales opportunities and so on.
Obtaining a gas licence for a career path as a technician is a secure career decision, and I believe it can be beneficial in other HVAC career paths.
Q. Are there other opportunities for students who don’t necessarily want to be hands-on techs for their entire career?
Jill: Absolutely. I have many friends and colleagues that are licensed and don’t necessarily pursue what they’re licensed for. They have it as a supplement and can always use that skill set in another career path, such as working for a great HVAC distributor like Wolseley.
PREPARE FOR A CAREER IN HVAC
Herzing College’s pre-apprenticeship HVAC training is designed to give you the skills and knowledge you need to impress an employer and get hired as an apprentice. The program also includes preparation for the G3 and G2 gas technician exams.
Training takes 52 weeks and is available in both Toronto and Cambridge.
Click below to explore the program in more detail and chat live with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help!