Angela Simon, president of Menlo Park, California-based Western Allied Mechanical, will become SMACNA’s president in October 2019 — the first time a woman will lead the organization.

“I’m excited about being SMACNA’s first female president. I love our industry, and I’d like to give back,” said Simon, who currently serves as the newest member of the elected board and vice president for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association.

Simon received SMACNA’s 2016 Contractor of the Year Award in part for her work as a mentor for young workers, association officials said. In 2007, she became the first woman to serve on SMACNA’s board of directors. Although her leadership roles in the industry have helped shatter the glass ceiling for women in the trades, she said she never thought of herself as a pioneer.

“I just did the job I liked,” she said. “They say women aren’t strong enough, and they can’t handle the work. That is so wrong in most cases. We need to get more women out front.”

Simon has served as the co-chair of SMACNA’s Women in Construction Leadership Council and said she has spent much of her career supporting women’s involvement in the industry.

“The culture of the construction industry has changed a lot in 30 years, but it’s changing slower for sheet metal than it should,” Simon said. “We have to get it out front. We have to promote the opportunities for women. We have to talk about it, or it won’t happen.”

Victor Torreano, business representative for the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 104 in South County/San Mateo, California, said Simon doesn’t just “muscle through issues” from a management perspective; she considers the bigger picture.

“She keeps crews working consistently, which isn’t common in construction,” Torreano said. “The company doesn’t just go up and down with the economy. They’re choosey about what they take.”

In the long run, Simon said it all comes down to teamwork — a skill she learned as a softball player.

“I can have good client relationships, but if my team is screwing up right and left in the field right, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Our labor partners are just that: our partners. Each of us needs the other desperately.”