Barbara Keil, president of Keil Heating and Air Conditioning, Riverdale, NJ, spoke to Women in HVACR members about her family's company and its 98 years in business.
Women in HVACR President Adrienne Breedlove kicked off the group's third meeting Sept. 13 with a report on the group's activities over the last year. She then introduced Kathy McCauley, president of Bridgeview, IL-based McCauley Mechanical Construction, who is the incoming president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.

McCauley spoke of her career in a male-dominated industry, and said that meeting women in the same situation, such as at Women in HVACR meetings, is “not measurable in dollars, but in work performance.” A fourth-generation president of her family's company, as well as the fourth McCauley to be president of MCA of Chicago, she has one key piece of advice for women in the industry: “Don't make it about being a girl.”

Managing change was the subject of Vicki LaPlant's presentation. LaPlant, of Vital Learning Experiences Enterprises, discussed the different paradigm shifts occurring in the industry and pointed out that, with women making the majority of home purchasing decisions and the shift in generations, changes need to be made in how businesses sell and market product.

Barbara Keil, president of Keil Heating and Air Conditioning, Riverdale, NJ, spoke about her family's company, and how it has stayed in business for 98 years. She listed five key things that she believes result in business longevity: 1) flexibility, 2) good customer service, 3) put money back into the business when you can, 4) choose a successor, and 5) always think long-term.

“Working at the company [as a family member] was not an entitlement, but a responsibility,” she said.

Breakout sessions covered two topics: everything you always wanted to know about HVAC (with Ed Blum, A.O. Reed & Co.) and making safety training a priority (Valerie Stakes, Multilingual Training Solutions).

Also speaking was Ruth King of, who offered strategies for small businesses, and Sharon McGee of RK Mechanical, who talked about mapping out a strategy for what to do once you've reached the pinnacle of your career.

The next Women in HVACR Conference will take place Sept. 25-27, 2007 in St. Louis. Those who register before Jan. 1 can do so at the 2006 rate. For more information, visit