When you stepped into your role as president and CEO of NB Handy four years ago, did you already have experience with the inner workings of the HVAC industry? 

I did not have much knowledge about the HVAC industry. My experience was wholesale distribution for home building materials not including HVAC. However, it is a fascinating industry, and I’ve enjoyed learning all about it!

Coming from a different industry, what did you see in NB Handy that interested you as a leader? How did you know your skills and leadership style would be the right fit?

NB Handy is family owned, with a long history and heritage of nearly 130 years in operation. I’ve had the pleasure of working for family-owned companies where employees, customers, and professional relationships are the heartbeat of the business. I prefer organizations with passion, culture, and ambition to win. NB Handy offered all of this and more. NB Handy has earned a solid reputation for being a customer centric company, which is critical for the success of distributors.  

My experience and professional background is well-rounded, which is required to lead a company. The greatest strength of a leader, however, is not the industry or technical knowledge. It is the ability to attract and retain talent to effectively execute the strategy and vision of the company over time. We at NB Handy believe that employee involvement and empowerment is crucial to our success. We lead with a culture of employee engagement and transparency. For all these reasons, I felt confident that I was the right leader with the skillset to transform NB Handy to the company it is today. I must emphasize that all of our accomplishments are thanks to the work of the entire NB Handy team.

Since starting your career, in what ways do you think issues facing women in leadership have changed? In what areas do you feel they have stayed the same?

I believe that talent is measured by the same scale regardless of gender. However, it is important to recognize the efforts of powerful women that opened doors to my generation to make that statement. Women are great business leaders and should not be underestimated or minimized in anyway. It takes passion, determination, persistence, and drive to succeed in business. For me personally, I have not experienced issues as a woman in a leadership role. 

How do you use your leadership to draw attention to these issues or set an example?  

I value inclusivity, diversity, and transparency as basic leadership principles. Our team guides with a clearly defined vision, a sense of autonomy and employee engagement. I am an intentional leader who enjoys coaching, teaching, and providing opportunities for growth. I value and reward hard work and loyalty. I draw attention to issues by confronting situations or conflict through open dialogue, which fosters collaboration.

What advice would you give another woman stepping into a leadership role?

Be a positive influence in the midst of negativity. Pay less attention to obstacles and more attention to opportunities. Recognize your weaknesses but build upon your strengths. Great leaders are life learners. Enjoy every step as you climb up to the top and be grateful for every opportunity. Recognize that people are at the heart of our existence. Nothing is more important than the people surrounding us. Be present in every conversation and listen. The art of listening is often undervalued by many leaders.

NB Handy is more than 100 years old, what have been some of your priorities as president to help the company make it to the next 100 years? Are there any initiatives that will immediately affect the customer?

NB Handy has cultivated success for nearly 130 years, largely due to our ability to evolve with the demands of the market and our customers. Our strategy for growth is dependent on a skilled employee based and focused on the needs of our customer. We will continue to lead with high touch relationships, strong product offerings, and the best distribution services known in our industry. We will continue to make investments in technology to make it easy for customers and suppliers to partner with NB Handy.

We will also continue to strive for excellence to be the “preferred choice” to our employees, customers, and vendor partners.

This story originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of SNIPS magazine.