This is the third 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.
As a supervisor in the molding department in McPherson, Kan., Kim Smith oversees production of components for Viega’s PureFlow PEX piping and fittings.
A native of the area, she began working for Vanguard-Midtec in 1987. When Viega acquired the company in 2005 and moved its operations from Massachusetts to McPherson, Smith, like hundreds of other workers, was left wondering about their new employer and how the Kansas operations would be integrated into the German-based firm.
Now, 15 years later, she knows she needn’t have worried.
“I think it went as smooth as it could have gone,” she said. “Viega does a really great job of helping people feel comfortable.”
That comfort level is a principal reason why Smith has stayed with Viega, progressing through a series of positions from assembly worker to manager and supervisor in the plant. The company makes it a point to train and promote workers into positions of greater responsibility, she said, adding that, as a woman, she has felt supported throughout her career here.
“I think Viega does a good job of treating its employees well,” she said. “You really get the sense that they value us and listen to us about our concerns and thoughts about the job.”
Over the years, she has watched operations change as automation plays an increasing role. She’s also been gratified to see Viega expand its McPherson operations, bringing in more manufacturing and adding jobs.
“I like the stability. The company is well run and I’m confident about its future,” she said.
We salute Smith and the other women leaders at Viega and elsewhere in this industry. Your contributions are invaluable.