Jennifer Adams is an entrepreneur with a crescent wrench
Being one of just an estimated 10 female plumbers in Minnesota is no big deal to Jennifer Adams. She’s used to scaling barriers that would stop a lesser person.
Adams, 31, remembers vividly the day she decided to be a plumber. She was 18 years old and had just bought her house on a contract for deed. “Right away, I had to call a plumber out to fix my air conditioner,” she recalled. “We got to talking and he asked what I was doing with my life. I told him I was thinking about changing careers.” Adams was then going to school for real estate appraisal, but, she said, “It didn’t really trip my trigger.” What she heard from the plumber about the opportunities in his field excited her so much that she decided on the spot to make plumbing her career.
Jennifer Adams Plumbing
Adams had already decided that she didn’t have the luxury of finding herself during four years of college-or the means to pay for it. She was an orphan who had lived on her own since the age of 15, when her father was killed by a drunk driver (Adams’ mother had died of breast cancer when she was a child), and she craved the security of a well-paying career. Adams knew she had the basic mechanical aptitude needed. “As a kid, I was always tinkering around the house, fixing things,” she said. She enrolled in St. Paul College’s plumbing apprenticeship program. Adams attended school two nights a week while working as an apprentice plumber for five years.
During her apprenticeship, tragedy struck. Adams was newly married and her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He recovered, but was unable to work for awhile. Though it was a stressful time, full of uncertainty, they didn’t have to worry about finances: Adams made enough as an apprentice to support the two of them.
Along with the financial security her work provides, Adams enjoys the work and finds a deep satisfaction in it. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am protecting the health of the nation,” she said. “Because of the work I do, people are not sick, and that is rewarding.”
She also finds running Jennifer Adams Plumbing rewarding. Just over a year ago she opened the doors and, she said, business is flourishing. She especially enjoys working with female homeowners. “Women are more at ease with me as their plumber because I am a woman,” Adams said. “They don’t have to try to impress me, they are more open to admitting they don’t know the full scope of their project.”
Adams wishes more women would consider plumbing as a career. “The money is so good and the retirement [benefits] is killer! There are so many opportunities for women plumbers … because of minority quotas, [women have an advantage] in bidding on contracts and government projects.
“I want to encourage other women to look at this field, there are plenty of opportunities for women with motivation and drive.”