This is the latest 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
Dalyn Cantrell can see how much the plumbing and HVAC industries have changed by simply scanning the room at industry events.
When she started in the industry in 1983 with Vanguard Piping Systems in McPherson, Kan., it was not uncommon for her to be one of only a handful of women in meetings of 100 people or more. Now, as Senior Director of National Accounts and Residential Sales for Viega LLC, she is delighted to see more women in the room, whether it’s in sales or other fields.
“It’s still very much a male-dominated industry, but we definitely are making inroads,” she said.
As Cantrell rose through the ranks at Vanguard and Viega (which acquired Vanguard in 2005), she has faced sexism from men who didn’t think women belonged in the industry or who preferred to deal with men, regardless of her steadily rising rank.
“That used to happen a lot, though not as much anymore,” said Cantrell, who works out of her office in McPherson.
She didn’t let the sexism throw her; she just worked harder and proved the skeptics wrong.
As prejudice waned and Cantrell proved herself over the decades, she’s gotten to know and respect many people in the business. “It’s a small industry full of wonderful people,” she said.
Still, one of her biggest challenges is recruiting women into the Viega salesforce. Many potential candidates simply don’t consider entering the field because it’s unglamorous and male-dominated, she said.
“It can be intimidating, but a motivated salesperson can do very well in the field,” she said.
As for her own success, Cantrell attributes it to being approachable and to taking the time to really listen to customers and determine what they need. “A salesperson who makes the time to listen is going to be successful,” she said.
She is excited about bringing Viega technology to new markets and audiences which haven’t yet embraced it: “It’s always easier to sell a product you believe in and that you know customers are going to appreciate.”
She’s also grateful for the mentors who helped her along the way.
“They always gave me a chance,” she said. “They allowed me to do things and try things when other people wouldn’t.”
She has repaid that generosity by mentoring younger employees who need some guidance and perspective.