March is Women's History Month and ServiceTitan is spending the coming weeks celebrating the Women In The Trades! This blog series will profile some of the most dynamic and inspired women who are currently working in the trades, defying barriers, and making singular contributions to the industry. In this blog, we speak with Angie Snow, the Vice President of Western Heating & Air Conditioning and Success Coach of Snow Business Coaching!
“A couple years ago, I guess it was 2016 at the first Service World Expo. I was named the Service World Woman of the Year, and I was totally surprised and shocked,” recalls Angie. “I was like, ‘Wow. Thanks.’ You know? But at the same time, I kinda was like, ‘Well, why me? That's so weird. Why would anyone choose me?’”
It's true: over the course of her 10+ year career as Vice President of Western Heating & Air Conditioning in Orem, Utah, Angie Snow had never turned a wrench, repaired an air conditioner, or replaced a furnace. But what her colleagues and competitors knew was that Angie had done something else, something invaluable that had helped quadruple the size of the business.
"I realized that whenever I go to these events, I have people come up to me, and t ask me these types of questions. They ask me about recruiting women. They ask me about marketing. They ask me about some of these things that I feel I've developed a strength for in my business," she says.
And she has.
As Vice President of Western Heating & Air Conditioning, Angie honed in on a group of potential customers and employees she had seen forgotten by the trades: women. Now, more than a decade later, she not only continues to help steward and expand she and her husband's HVAC company, she now helps other company's reach new heights as a Success Coach with Snow Business Coaching.
"If I can share and help, I want to make myself available to do that," Angie says. "Some people could use extra help with their business, and I'd love to be able to help them."
Open for Business
Angie didn't grow up in the trades—in fact, her first passion was teaching. She would eventually earn her Master's Degree in math education and briefly work as a teacher. Angie's husband Ryan, however, was an HVAC professional and the couple moved from Utah to California for an HVAC job opportunity.
"While we were out there, the owners of Western Heating & Air Conditioning in Utah contacted us, they knew Ryan was thinking about buying a business," Angie remembers. "They contacted us and said, 'Hey, would you like to buy this business?'"
And so they did. Ryan however, had one request: that Angie join the business with him, as VP, and do the bookkeeping while Ryan managed the company's four technicians. Angie agreed, but it became clear to the Snows that simply trying to emulate the old owner's way of doing business wasn't enough.
"He [the prior owner] was running it out of his house. So we did too. And it was crazy," Angie says. "It was not what we wanted, so we decided we were going to become a more professional company. So we got an office and a shop, and we started hiring more people and growing."
A New Perspective
Angie and Ryan had purchased their business in 2007, just before the recession, and would go on to weather difficult times in the years that followed. By cutting nearly every cost they could, they preserved—and finally got back into a position where they could focus on growing again. For Angie, that first meant examining some of their local competitors, especially how they had been advertising themselves.
"All of our competitors have picture of air-conditioning units, furnaces and different things like that, but me, as a woman, I know what I like to look at," Angie says. "I don't know the difference between two air conditioners. That doesn't speak to me."
"So we focused our marketing more on what speaks to women, and for me, I want solutions that are gonna make my family comfortable, that are gonna save me time and save me money," she explains. "That's how I focused my marketing, and that's really what helped us start growing."
It also occurred to Angie that their company shouldn't just be looking to appeal to women customers, it could be searching for woman employees, as well. "We recruited our first female maintenance technician six years ago, and she's still with us," Angie explains.
"We've hired two other female technicians since then. We’ve also hired a female service manager and, of course, other female administrators here in the office. But it's been really cool to be able to try to open the doors and let more women know that 'Hey, this is a great industry to be a part of.'"
“Oh, Girls Can Do This Too.”
While Angie is proud of the way that Western Heating & Air Conditioning has trail-blazed when it came to its staffing and marketing, she is honest about the resistance both she and her female employees have faced in the industry.
"Initially I was just more of his [Ryan's] support and taking on a clerical role. And as we were growing, you know, I did have pushback from some of the technicians that came with the company.People would question me," Angie admits. "I had to really work on developing a relationship with these men and learning their language... And that's been a huge advantage."
The same goes for the female techs hired at Western Heating & Air Conditioning. "My team was like, 'What? You're hiring a girl to do tune-ups? What does she know about it?'" Angie says. "She would do ride-alongs with the guys as they were training her and they would give her the hard things to do, but for her, she had the personality like, 'I'm gonna show them...'"
"And once she did, it kind of opened the door and changed our culture. Like, 'Oh, girls can do this too.'"
Angie admits that while some customers are initially skeptical when female techs arrive to their property, no customer has ever refused service. In fact, in many cases, the female techs are specifically requested.
"Imagine a mother home alone with her small children, letting some strange person in their house to work on a furnace. She feels much more comfortable with a female technician, so a lot of times my female technicians get requested by these moms that are home alone or these elderly women. They just feel more comfortable with a woman in their home," Angie explains.
Helping Others Get Ahead
With that experience and insight from Western Heating & Air Conditioning, Angie now incorporates what she's learned when coaching both women and men who are struggling to run their business. To her, the key is harmony.
"I like to coach on is how to manage your time in a very effective way so that you can have the time you need with your family, the time you need at work, the time you need for yourself," she explains.
"There's no way you'll have everything in complete balance, but it can be like a harmony. It can be you know where your priorities are and you put it in order and you make sure you stick to that so that things in your life, important things, don't get forgotten."
"I'm not saying there's never stressful days," she adds. "But if you prep, you have a plan. It works so much better."