Leslie Harpole knows that running a small business as a working mom is tough. And running Champion Plumbing with her husband, Brent, as co-owner comes with a whole other set of challenges.
Based in Edmund, OK, Champion Plumbing is in its fourth year of operation since rebranding. The company made $3 million in 2021, has 20 full-time employees and is currently focusing on operations and scaling.
The Harpoles decided to start their own company in part because they saw that business model as a way for Leslie to both work from home and be there for their two children.
“I always thought I’d be a working mom,” she says. “I never thought I was going to stay at home with my kids. They're going to be fine…but when the babies got here, my heart changed.”
Working from home, at first to find contracts for the company, enabled Leslie to remain in the workforce and also be a caregiver.
Brent and Leslie were on the same page with the arrangement–and that’s just one example of how they’ve been intentional about defining their roles.
“We clearly define our roles and stick to that,” she says. “If I’m overseeing finance, I stick to that and he can’t jump in. Is it one hundred percent all the time? No, but we really try to stay on track with the tasks we are given.”
Leslie knows that keeping the business successful affects their employees as well as their workforce’s families.
“We don't take lightly the responsibility we have to our team and the impact that the decisions we make have on their families,” she says. “It's a huge responsibility. It's hard to explain to people who don't have that responsibility how you go to sleep at night and you're not just thinking about your family, you're also thinking about your team and their families.”
Leslie adds that there’s definitely a community of like-minded women in the male-oriented trades. She points in particular to the LadyTitans, a customer-led, diversity charter group.
“We definitely need to have our own community and fellowship,” she says. “You want to be around like-minded women. You need to be around people who can encourage you.”
Leslie Harpole recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 7 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Harpole’s thoughts on:
Getting into the trades as a working mom.
The challenges of partnering in business with a spouse.
Defining your roles with your business partner.
Bias toward women in the trades.
The advantages of industry groups like LadyTitans.
To hear more stories from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.