Adrienne Bennett: A Plumbing Pioneer
This Black History Month, take a moment and learn about a remarkable pioneer who shattered all sorts of barriers in the plumbing industry. Meet Adrienne Bennett – the first Black woman master plumber in the United States! She overcame tremendous odds and persevered against adversity to become an advanced trade professional. This blog will discuss her journey to becoming a master plumber and what she moved on to.
The Very Beginning
It all started with a strong work ethic and determination. Adrienne Bennett was one of eight siblings who learned to become a high achiever at an early age. She excelled at math and science in school, and as a child, she was set on becoming an engineer.
However, college did not go the way she had planned. Bennett never went to college due to a racially charged incident at an engineering firm training program that was a pathway to her chosen college. Instead, she was recruited into a federally-sponsored apprenticeship program for skilled trades at a 1976 election rally for Jimmy Carter.
During her five-year apprenticeship program, there were multiple times when Bennett did not feel comfortable in her environment. She was often the only woman on a job site and was repeatedly harassed and bullied. Bennett even wore a tool belt around her waist for protection to keep men at a distance when they would try to grab her inappropriately.
After the minimum requirement of 4,000 hours of experience to qualify for the master plumber exam, she could finally take the exam, becoming the first Black woman to become a master plumber in the United States. After she passed her test, she could move on to other jobs in the field, including working as a journeyman plumber, plumbing inspector, code enforcement officer, and project manager.
At the Very Top
Now Adrienne Bennett has achieved even more success, running her own independent contracting business where she works with her son, A.K. Bennett. She serves as the President and CEO. Through this business, she has secured big contracts to contribute towards rebuilding Detroit, the city she has called home since age nine. On top of that, Adrienne is also passionate about water conservation and has incorporated that into the business.
She is also a member of the Architectural Engineering Advisory Board for Lawrence Technological University, helping the next generation of tradespeople. Interestingly, this university was where she hoped to study mechanical engineering before the racially charged incident changed her plans. Although the plumbing industry is still a male-dominated field, Adrienne Bennett led the way for people looking to make their own path to a successful career.
About RupCoe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
RupCoe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is a family-owned and operated business serving South Plainfield, NJ residents, and the surrounding areas for over 30 years. They offer upfront pricing, fast turnarounds, and maintenance plans. Call them today for plumbing services in South Plainfield, NJ.