Tasha Lawrence

Plumbing Fab Foreman and Outreach/Diversity Coordinator at Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors, Inc. (an APi Group company) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota

The first job site I was on for Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors was in 2007. The project was a big hospital expansion, and at peak, there were about 400 people on the job site. I was nervous, literally scared, because there were so many people on site. The challenges I faced on that project were vastly different from the ones I’d encountered in my previous position at a small plumbing service shop. I felt out of my element, but it ended up being the best job I’d ever been on because of the great leadership there. Inspiration and encouragement from the general foreman and four guys on my team convinced me that one day I would be running jobs on my own. I began thinking about things in a different way and started gaining confidence.

The Power of Positive Thinking

As foreman of the fab shop, I manage multiple jobs and supervise anywhere from two to eight people, depending on the scope of the jobs in the field. I currently work with a woman plumber who has been here a little over a year. Although she’s very good at plumbing and even teaching other people, she’s reserved at work and doesn’t really put herself out there. So, I’ve been working with her, encouraging her to try new things. I can tell that she’s getting more confident. I like to see that the people I work with can grow and build on their skills. When they’re nervous, I’ll tell them, “You just go for it. You can do that.”

While my foreman position evolved out of the experiences and encouragement I received from those great guys I worked with on the hospital expansion, my leadership role when it comes to diversity and outreach — to recruit and retain women and people of color in the trades — was hands-down because of the president of MMC, Kristin Schultes. When she approached me about doing outreach, I was back at that place where I asked myself, “Can I actually do this? Am I the right person?” It was then that I realized Kristin saw something in me when she said, “You’ll be great at it.” I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years. I’ve become a lot more comfortable talking with people and just being in front of them.

Diversity: A Better Way to Build

Outside of my family life, a lot of my time goes into women’s and girls’ empowerment. It’s nice to bring women together and get people supporting each other. Recently, I volunteered with Girls Are Powerful, a group that encourages girls to embrace their strengths and individuality. At the event, I talked to 7-to-15-year-olds about plumbing and even taught them how to solder. I’m currently serving as vice president on the board of National Association of Women in Construction. Our goal is outreach to women and we do events every month, but our main priority is to give a scholarship once a year to a woman in a non-traditional construction career. I also work with an organization called Build Minnesota that helps women and people of color find programs that suit their interests and talents. In both my professional and personal life I try to encourage, encourage, encourage. It’s amazing how much a bit of encouragement can do for someone.