Wendy Rusnell never woke up thinking, “Oh yah, I’m going to own a plumbing company some day!” But that changed the day she met her husband, Chris. Together they decided to launch AZ’s Best Pipe Doctor Plumbing, with Wendy as the sole owner. This is how Wendy is building a better future for her family and other women in the trades. Plus she shares 3 daily habits to start building your legacy today.
“There was no point where I felt ready, we prepared as best we could and then...we went for it and started a plumbing company!”
In the beginning, Wendy accepted the role as business owner because she was able to secure financial incentives as a female-forward company in the trades. According to this research, 98.2% of pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in the United States are male. And although Wendy’s not a licensed plumber, it’s even more rare to find a female owned plumbing company. With that, there’s been a set of hurdles Wendy’s run into as a pioneer in this space.
“People will ask to talk to my husband or son because they assume I won’t have the answer for them. Or, when you walk into a wholesale house the employees assume you’re lost.”
“Overcoming the little things” as Wendy calls it, can’t get in the way of her goals as a business owner. In fact, her motivation comes from knowing she’s part of a growing movement of female tradespeople and believes the future is bright.
These are 3 daily habits Wendy’s established as she builds a legacy for her family and future tradespeople:
1. Make sure the customer is comfortable:
At the end of the day, you want happy customers that trust you and your business to do a good job - they're bound to share referrals and reviews of your plumbing company, to help get you more business. But gender stereotypes aside, building trust takes time.
“I always reassure the customer that I know what I’m talking about. But if they still aren’t comfortable, I will also validate them by putting them in touch with my husband or son. I want every customer to be comfortable and that takes time. And that could be if you’re a man or a woman - building trust with your customers happens over time.”
2. Attitude is everything:
For Wendy, she has come to appreciate her position as a female pioneering her way in the plumbing industry. Her attitude: it’s a privilege not a burden.
“You look at the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’ from WWII and think “wow, this woman started a movement of being anything and doing anything” and look where we are now. We are doing this. There are women in the trades doing amazing work and I’m proud to be part of it.”
3. Make every interaction & impression count:
See every interaction as an opportunity to leave a positive impression. Wendy knows this is a worthwhile habit.
“Once I work with someone at a wholesale house, or work with a customer - they come to understand what I’m capable of.”
What's more important to Wendy is her son who has grown to Service Manager of the business, and says her 9 year-old grandson will make a great addition to the team one day. For now, she’s setting an example for future generations, who won’t see any exception in a female owned plumbing company.
“I’m so excited to see my grandson be part of what we’ve worked so hard to build. This is what we want for the future of our family and the company.”