In our August Women In PHCP spotlight, we invite you to meet Leslie Harpole, co-owner of Champion Plumbing!
PHCPPros: What is your role in the PHCP industry?
Harpole: I am the co-owner of Champion Plumbing. My husband, Brent, and I founded the company in 2015 and service the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas.
PHCPPros: How and why did you decide to enter a career in the PHCP industry?
Harpole: Entering the plumbing industry wasn’t really by choice. My husband and I started the business after I was laid off from the oil and gas industry, which is really big in Oklahoma. I was pregnant at the time and was struggling. Brent was a journeyman plumber at the time for a local company, and he also happened to get laid off. That’s when we decided to go into plumbing for ourselves. We worked in new construction for a few years before re-branding and focusing on residential services. So, working in the plumbing industry wasn’t initially part of the plan, but it’s created an amazing life for us.
PHCPPros: What have been some of your career highlights?
Harpole: Every year, I feel like there is a different highlight. Many of them are small milestones, like completing our first year and having Brent be able to get out of the truck. That was a big moment because that meant he could start working solely on growing the business. In the second year of operations, we hit $1 million. In the third year, we hit $3 million. It was such an amazing feeling to see us grow bigger over the years. Personally, one highlight for me was speaking at Pantheon for ServiceTitan this year. That came out of nowhere. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do that, and it was a great experience.
PHCPPros: What are your thoughts on mentorship for women?
Harpole: I don’t have a primary mentor per se, but I do have a lot of women friends in the industry who end up mentoring me in a way. The fellowship that has been created with the other women has been phenomenal. Getting to see what they are doing and how they are changing the scope of the industry has helped me in many ways. I’m constantly learning from them.
I have a lot of women who reach out to me and ask me questions, and I always try to help. When they reach out to me on social media, I always try to set up a time to talk to them and encourage them. I don’t think I would call myself a mentor, but I just try to be helpful when I can be.
PHCPPros: What do you think the PHCP industry can do to better recruit and retain women?
Harpole: Speaking about the trades as a viable career option has to start at the secondary education level. That’s a big step. It needs to be talked about at a young age in schools. There is already a trade shortage for men, and it’s not really talked about at all as a career path for women. I think that it has to start at the middle school and high school levels, and that would be education in the classroom. There is a stigma about the industry among parents who don’t understand the benefits of a life in the trades. So, it needs to be talked about at a young age in a positive light. It’s important that seniors know they can graduate from high school, enter the trades and not be in heavy debt. They can make a very good living for themselves by learning a trade.
PHCPPros: Is there anything from your personal life you would like to highlight?
Harpole: Giving back to the community is a value that my husband and I have in both our professional and personal lives. We base our foundational truths on the purpose that God has created us and our family. As part of that desire, we are heavily involved in three ministries in our communities. We work with a transitional home that helps women who have been in horrible circumstances. This home gives them a stable environment where they can get back into a stable environment with their children. At that home, they are taught life skills so they can go out and be productive individuals in the community. We love that ministry.
Another one we love is a grassroots ministry that started out as a mother-daughter team and delivers food to the tent communities in Oklahoma City. That’s extremely important because we do have a large homeless population. In fact, one goal that I would love to achieve is opening a homeless shelter within the next 10 years. I would love for these people to be a part of it. I don’t know the logistics or what it would take to do that, but it is a goal. It has been really rewarding to see how giving money to the right people can really impact your community.
Do you know someone you would like to nominate for our Women In PHCP newsletter series? Email PHCPPros Digital Strategy Manager Nicole Meyer at email@example.com!