Role Changes

Young plumbers will shape the future of the industry.
Role Changes
Luke Laggis

Your dad may be a plumber. Maybe you’re third generation and your grandpa was a plumber, too. But I’d bet none of you can say your grandma was a plumber.

The building trades have historically been dominated by men, but so have a lot of other careers that have long since become equal opportunity. Female doctors, lawyers and CEOs are commonplace, but according to figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represent less than 1 percent of the estimated 573,000 workers in the plumbing field and related trades. That means there are approximately 4,000 females working in those fields nationwide.

Makenzie Johnson is bucking that trend. The 25-year-old is one of only about two dozen female plumbers in Texas. She also belongs to an even more exclusive club: female master plumbers in Texas that hold a Responsible Master Plumber endorsement, which effectively means she’s qualified to open her own plumbing business.

She won’t need to open her own business, however, as she’s been working alongside her father, Pete Johnson, at Pete Johnson Plumbing since age 16. The company — profiled in this issue of Plumber — has been serving the Wichita Falls area since 1988.

Makenzie, who earned her journeyman license when she was 20 and her master plumber license at 24, says she’s run into some rude customers who don’t take her seriously, but overall people are supportive and happy to see a female in the field. And once people see her work, no one questions it. She’s even doing some work on the business side, helping reshape the company’s image through marketing efforts as much as through her own role-changing plumbing skills. She’s the future of the company, and one of the many bright young people who will undoubtedly be the future of the trade.

From plumbing to publishing

We tell a lot of stories about how people have grown in the industry and built their businesses. It’s an integral part of what we do; it’s part of the mission.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on several publications and help get some new magazines and other special projects off the ground here at COLE Publishing. I always enjoy that. Building a new publication is a lot like building your own business, and it’s fun building it for you.

We launched the Plumber website a year and a half ago in January 2015. The response was excellent, and after repeatedly being asked if we were ever going to launch a print
edition, we did just that in January of this year.

I was at the helm for all of it, but I’m taking on other projects and this issue will be my last as editor. Ed Wodalski will take over with the July issue. He has some great ideas and I think you’ll see the magazine continue to grow and mature, serving you better with each issue.

It’s been a pleasure putting these stories together for you.

Enjoy this month’s issue.


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