MEMPHIS, Tenn. — American Residential Services (ARS), a Memphis, Tennessee-based, privately held national provider of air conditioning, heating, and plumbing services, is recognizing several women in their organization for International Women’s Day. Despite being in an industry that is viewed as predominately male, ARS has created a culture that promotes women in the workplace, and it is happy to brag about its leading ladies.

“As a company, ARS is dedicated to providing equal opportunities for everyone,” says Luis Orbegoso, president and COO of ARS/Rescue Rooter. “We are very proud of our team, but today we recognize some of our outstanding female employees from different levels and various locations across our business.”

The following women are breaking down the preconceived barriers of women in the HVAC and plumbing industry.

Terri Furgeson — Furgeson has been in the plumbing industry for more than 21 years. Her hard work and outstanding customer reviews in a male-dominated industry make her longevity as a plumbing professional remarkable. Considering her father was a plumber and she spent years since her adolescence learning skills of the plumbing trade from him, Furgeson’s decision to enter the industry was natural.

“I love to fix things and not just piping and product,” she said. “I like to problem-solve and make homeowner the happiest they can be with my work.”

When asked why she navigates well in areas that are otherwise viewed as ‘masculine,’ Furgeson replied, “You have to have a big personality and the ability to get along with people. When customers answer the door and see me, they often say ‘You’re the only girl plumber I have ever seen!’ I tell them, ‘me, too!’”

Brittany Spencer — Spencer is the general manager of Allgood Plumbing, Electric, Heating, and Cooling’s branch in Atlanta. She has been with the company for more than five years and has stayed because she is attracted to ARS’s commitment to excellent customer service and community. Brittany decided to pursue a career in the HVAC and plumbing industry because she recognized ARS’s culture of growth. To women who are interested in pursuing a profession in a male-dominated industry, Brittany says, “Don’t be intimidated. Prove yourself by working hard and doing an amazing job — stay positive, drive results, and fiercely protect your work culture.”

Janice Harris — Harris has a strong background in customer service with more than 20 years of experience. She has been with ARS for the past five years and is currently based in the company’s corporate offices and is employed in the role of customer relations manager.

“Never think that you have to know everything about a particular area or subject before you pursue it,” Harris said. “When I first started this job, I didn’t know much about HVAC and plumbing. If you move forward with a positive mindset, build great relationships, do your research, have the will to want to learn, and sheer determination, you can succeed in any industry. The world is ever-changing, and I find that there is room for anyone who wants to succeed.”

Ashley Costner-Montoya — Costner-Montoya was recently promoted to director of process improvement and has been working for American Residential Services for seven years with a total of 15 years at Brothers Air in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of a community that cares about people both inside and outside its doors,” she said.

Since birth, Costner-Montoya has grown up with family in the industry, so when given the opportunity to do the same, she couldn’t refuse. She encourages women in the workforce to: “Speak up, trust yourself, and trust in the expertise and experience you bring to the table.”

Mary King — King began her career in the HVAC and plumbing industry almost 24 years ago as a part-time dispatcher at Rescue Rooter in St. Louis. After her move to the corporate offices in Memphis, Mary’s career shifted into the IT department, where she is now director of IT business solutions.

“In this day and age, it is much more important to show your worth by bringing value to whatever it is you are doing,” King said. “Don’t hold back because you may be the only female in the room. Show your strength and your worth.  Show that you hold valuable knowledge and it will does matter that you are female.”

Valencia Williams — Valencia Williams has been a service technician at ARS for nine months. So far, her career at ARS has been a fulfilling one.

“This company has invested time in my continued growth of education and experience and has allowed me to spread my wings,” she said.

When deciding what career she wanted to pursue, Valencia Williams desired something more challenging and somewhere she could grow. At her school and training, she was the first woman to enroll and the first woman to graduate. She wants women to believe in themselves and never give up.

Jessica Yawn — holds a few different roles at Unique Services including call center manager, quality assurance manager, and a key role in dispatch management.

Yawn has always wanted to obtain a career in a non-traditional field. Growing up, her father owned a mechanic shop where she worked most of her summer breaks.

“Taking on different positions in my dad’s company was a great experience,” she said. “As a young adult, I had the opportunity to join a small HVAC company, and once I stepped into the industry, I knew I wanted to pursue and continue my career here.”

Having years of experience in a male-dominated industry provides Yawn excellent advice to share with women everywhere hoping to do the same: “Go for it and don’t stop,” she said. “Find a mentor or a role model. Whoever that person is, near or far, it is essential to have someone in your life to help guide you through difficult times/decisions.”

Dawn Williams — Dawn Williams is currently a dispatcher at ARS’s Indiana branch and has been with the company for eight years. She genuinely enjoys knowing she is making the lives of ARS’s customers better, even at their most inconvenient times. Dawn Williams encourages women to stand tall and be confident in their workplaces.

“Try not live up to the typical stereotypes of women in the workplace,” she said. “You can get your point across without becoming emotional, and if all else fails, laughter can help turn any negative situation around.”

Cristy Lightsey — Lightsey is the quality assurance manager and an accounting assistant at ARS of Vero Beach, Florida. She has been with the company for nine months, and she truly appreciates how helpful and friendly her managers are. Lightsey encourages women to do the following: “Go after it,” she said. “Don’t get discouraged easily and keep proving that you have what it takes not only to succeed but to thrive in any industry.”

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Publication date: 03/08/18