This is the fourth in a series saluting women in the plumbing and HVAC trades, from manufacturing to turning wrenches in the field. As the trades face a shortage of skilled workers, it’s essential to attract, train and promote more women. If there is a woman you think is worthy of recognition, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The person most responsible for the future of the plumbing trades in Indiana is not a plumber or company owner, but a professional administrator.
Brenda Dant is executive director of the Indiana PHCC, the Hoosier state chapter of the not-for-profit trade association for plumbing, heating and cooling contractors. She oversees not only the state organization, but seven local chapters and the trade schools they operate.
“It definitely keeps me busy,” she said. “One of the things I like most about this job is that it’s something different every day.”
Twenty-one years on the job have made her more than capable of handling whatever might arise. She joined Indiana PHCC after working for a builder’s association in Indianapolis and earning a master’s degree at Indiana State University.
“I honestly didn’t know the first thing about plumbing,” she recalled, adding that she was surprised by the complexity of the trades.
The association also oversees the curriculum at seven trade schools in the state and the testing and licensing of contractors. Keeping those schools full of students is one of Dant’s primary goals; the association uses everything from career fairs, education material and mentoring programs to attract students.
Advocating for current contractors is another responsibility. Last year, the organization helped defeat a proposal to eliminate licensing requirements for plumbers in Indiana. The Indiana PHCC argued that plumbers are just as important to a community’s health as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other licensed professionals.
“Plumbers really do save lives. People take it for granted, but they shouldn’t,” she said. “We had to make that case and we did.”
Getting to know hundreds of member contractors across the state has been a perk of the job, she said, citing instances where they have gone out of their way to help strangers in the trades out of a sense of brotherhood.
“I really love the contractors I work with,” she said. “They’re really solid men and women.”