There are not many people in the world who can say they are a licensed plumber, have an MBA in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and are a mother to three daughters, ages 7, 11 and 12.
Kathryn “Kitty” Maloney-Langmade can make those claims.
The president of W.J. Maloney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling leads a vibrant plumbing contracting company in a male-dominated industry. Some of her company’s recent projects include the new Chicago Cubs spring training complex in Mesa, the Veteran’s Administration Southeast Healthcare Clinic in Gilbert, Phase IV of CityScape Phoenix, a major solar thermal project at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and the Sky Train Project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Az Business magazine caught up with Maloney-Langmade — whose company won consecutive Best of the Best Awards for safety from SCF Arizona — for a Q&A.
How did you get into the plumbing business?
My father and mother started W.J. Maloney Plumbing in 1964. I grew up in and around the business. My dad was always working in the field and my mother performed the bookkeeping. Upon returning from my honeymoon, I learned my mother’s secretary had left the company. My mother asked me to come to the plumbing shop to help her out with payroll and I never left.
Are there any aspects of the industry that are made more difficult because you are a woman?
Growing up, I always heard and learned about construction but I was not in the field with my father. Often times, I wish I had the mechanical, hands-on expertise and years of experience that my father had. To carry on his tradition of quality workmanship, I have had to surround myself with key people who have the same mechanical skill that he possessed.
Are there any benefits to being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
My experience is that both men and women in construction go out of their way to be supportive, kind, courteous and helpful. People want me to succeed. They know construction is a tough road. I am lucky to have received good advice and help.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Turning the company around during difficult times. We were in a pattern of winning work and doing jobs, but were losing money. Meeting and listening to my key foremen who have been with the company for years, I was able to learn and understand changes that needed to happen. I was able to get the company moving in the right direction when I put together a solid leadership team. We are now able to estimate, win and perform good work. We have a great team in place now and the momentum continues to build and grow.