In 1954, Hamlin Sheet Metal opened for business. As a female leader with more than 40 years in the spiral duct industry, I have seen firsthand the impact that a diverse and inclusive workplace can have on employers, employees, and company growth.
Although I was not a founding member of the Hamlin team, I dare say that there were very few women in that core team. Fast forward 66 years at Hamlin, and we have achieved that diverse and inclusive group of men and women in all stages of our operation.
Hamlin Sheet Metal is in its third generation of family ownership and management. Will Hamlin serves as president of the company, and his sister Katherine Anne Hamlin is vice president. The chief financial officer is also a woman.
We each see articles every year as it relates to women in construction. Women currently make up only 90 percent of the construction industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an even smaller percentage in sheet metal. The percentage of women in all phases of our operation is much greater here at Hamlin, and it appears that percentage will continue to grow.
Katherine Anne Hamlin, Vice President of Hamlin Sheet Meta.
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The best way to grow your business, and a good reputation for quality and customer service, is solely on seeking the best talent. If you hire the best person for the job, regardless of gender, you can anticipate good results.
Since the time Hamlin transitioned from being an installing contractor to strictly a fabricator, we have put a great deal of responsibility and confidence in the women in our organization.
Female job seekers see the many women within our company and can picture themselves succeeding here, too. Many of these women have risen within our organization and now are eager to guide other females through their career paths. As an example, the first person we hired who was strictly an estimator for spiral pipe & fittings was a lady. As we grew, we hired that lady’s best friend. The friend, now some 24 years later, has trained her sister and her daughter in those same roles. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that continues to help us hire more talented, capable women each year.
We have women who began in estimating, and now handle roles such as project managers, inventory control, as well as purchasing. In the last 10 years, we have also seen the advantage to women in the production area as well. These ladies are confident, they are team players, and are committed to continuing to learn something new so that they can advance their careers. They, too, are encouraging their friends to learn to fabricate duct!
The role of a mentor is invaluable in setting our employees up for workplace success and satisfaction, especially for those who are minorities in the industry. For women in particular, having female mentors within the industry to ask questions, learn from and find comradery with is essential.
My role is sales manager, and I am a female who has worked in the spiral duct manufacturing industry for 40 years. Having had this experience, it thrills me to get the opportunity to serve in organizations like SPIDA and ASHRAE. As a member of the board of directors and past president of SPIDA, I can clearly recall the days when there were few women in construction, much less in a leadership role. To see another young person, male or female, for that matter, that wants to grow from within this spiral duct industry is an area that I choose to daily encourage. Everyone likes to hear stories of your success, and even what you have learned from the mistakes.
We are extremely proud of the men and women who make up Hamlin Sheet Metal, but for today and this article, we are especially proud of our ladies.
This article originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of SNIPS magazine.