Meet all of the 2022 Top Women in HVAC

Brittany “Bee” Smith

Title: Distribution Center Manager
Company: Mingledorff’s Inc.
Educational Experience: Associate of Science in Firearms Technology
Industry Work Experience: Before Mingledorff’s, I knew nothing about HVACR. I was one of those people who didn’t change their filter. Starting in the warehouse at Mingledorff’s, I slowly learned the parts and equipment that were in the boxes that I was handling and was promoted to the sales counter in Hilton Head. From there, my career took off. I was lucky to have a manager who understood the different aspects of heating and air and would answer all my questions, no matter how many times I had to ask them. A position on the counter in our Savannah location opened up, so I relocated there to be closer to home. There I had to learn more about commercial parts that didn’t come up at the other location. After a year or so there, the manager position back in the Hilton Head location opened up, and that was an eye opener. I managed Hilton Head for three years until Mingledorff’s built me my very own warehouse in Ridgeland, SC, where I am currently the distribution center manager.

What caused you to/when did you to enter the HVACR industry?

I was coming off of leave from a deployment to Afghanistan and looking for work outside of anything that I was currently doing: police work. My dad, who has worked for Mingledorff’s since I was a kid, said that the Hilton Head store was looking for a warehouse person and I should give it a shot during the summer. Ten years later and this has been the longest summer of my life.


What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in HVACR?

I love the challenge of working through that tough problem with a customer. It could be finally finding that failed part when the technician and the parts breakdown is calling it something completely different, or solving that dreadful “out of stock” scenario. I love being able to solve those issues swiftly so both Mingledorff’s and our business partners are equipped to succeed.


Describe the proudest moment in your career.

In 2020, I was awarded the HVAC (Honored Valuable Achiever Contributor) Employee of the Year for our Southeast region. This is special for me because it is voted on by my peers.


What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?

Women in this profession tend to not be taken seriously and/or like they don’t know anything about HVACR. There have been numerous times that I have answered the phone “Mingledorff’s, this is Brittany” and the person on the other end asks for the parts counter just because they hear a female’s voice. Over time, I proved myself as a valuable asset on the counter — not only to our customers but also to my teammates — and after that, many customers would call and only want to talk to me.


How can we increase the number of women in HVACR?

Making them feel welcome and like they belong is a great start. Bringing women into the light, like this article does, is a great way to show other women that the trades is something that could be a right fit for them. I was very fortunate growing up that my parents did not assign a gender to chores or work. Growing up on a small farm in Georgia, my brother and I shared responsibilities from barn chores, kitchen cleanup, and everything in between.


What does your day-to-day job entail?

Every day is somewhat the same, but there is always that one wrench that gets tossed into the gears at some point. I like to start my morning by working through reports and make sure everything from the day before invoiced correctly overnight. Once those are complete, I help my warehouse personnel with inventory counts and pulling orders or I help answer phone calls or emails that come through on the counter. I have been lucky to have a great work family and team here, and they are all great at working independently and shuffling around to fill holes when teammates are out.


What remains on your HVACR bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?

Becoming a territory manager within Mingledorff’s has always been the role I aspire to hold. I have also been thinking about attending HVAC classes at our local tech college to have a better overall understanding of HVAC to better help our customers.


What advice do you have for females who are considering entering the HVACR field?

Don’t let it intimidate you. Be open to the opportunity. Remember that you are not alone. Find community. Careers are based on your skill and work ethic, not gender.