Mary-Anne Bowcott, the Lady Plumber

Episode 60: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. Today, I am so excited to introduce to you my special guest, Mary-Anne Bowcott! Mary-Anne is a shingle roofer, Red Seal journeyman Plumber, Class B gas fitter and successful, award winning plumbing and gas business owner, she is paving the way for young women seeking a career in the building trades.

Listen in…


•    So I decided, well, actually it wasn’t really my decision, my husband along with a couple of my girlfriends suggested that I start my own business and just see what happens, because then I can pick and choose. Because with new construction, there are some weeks that we were doing 16 Ground Works a day, like 16 houses all underground, that’s a lot of digging and it’s hard on your back when you have a slip disc. When you don’t feel your best. Yeah. So it just seemed like a better idea because it’s like, Oh, you know, then you can just pick and choose and do all these smaller jobs that everybody wants and put that faucet in here and there… Yeah, well, I ended up opening my own company, and there was a whole story behind that as well, trying to get the name, but I’ve been slammed busy since day one. It really is. Yeah, I had no idea, but I live in a fairly small town where I grew up here, everybody knows me, so it was very easy. It was an easy transition to go from working for a company to owning my own. (11:56)

•   I don’t know, though almost eight years ago is… Not very long ago, and women in trades was very prevalent at that time. I still grew up in a time where it wasn’t. When we started roofing, I was the only female on site besides some painters or whatever, so I kind of lived through all that where you’re not… Supposed to be are here, you’re not in a very welcoming environment to the type of person that you are, which is a woman, plain and simple… And not just a woman, but one that’s barely breaking a hundred pounds. Yeah, you’re like, I’m a tiny woman. You don’t fit. The mold… Exactly. When did that change for you? When did that… Because your Instagram’s called The Lady Plumber, right? So when did that shift happen for you where it was like, Okay, I’m ready for people to know that I own WestCom, was there a time where you felt comfortable or what changed? Honestly, I don’t even really know when that happened… I do know that there was a time… I think it was gradual. I do know what it was, it was I think when I started winning awards. (21:23)

•    Definitely my partner, I call my husband, we’re not married, but we’ve been together for 15 years now, so he… I think in some degrees, has been my biggest supporter, mostly because he just puts up with my nonsense… He hasn’t kicked me out yet, so. Nothing that I would say is 100% supportive. I have some very, very good friends. Some very, very good girlfriends, and I only really started hanging out with girlfriends, I would say, since I opened the company… Not before at all. Really, I had some people that I hang out with, but I wouldn’t really consider them super close friends. But now, I have a very solid group of girlfriends that I hang out with and I talked to… And a lot of us are business owners, and that’s how we met was through Women in Business, something through that route. I would say that my girlfriends. A supportive business. Not that they can relate to, what I’m dealing with in construction, but it’s never actually the construction part that’s a problem. Yeah, no. It’s never actually doing the trade parts, it’s all the other parts. That’s the easy part, it’s everything that comes along with that, which you know, I guess they can relate, because you’re dealing with bad clients and bad employees and, you know, stress. And it’s all very much the same thing, very stressful. I didn’t know it would be this stressful, but it is stressful. (37:31)

•    I think it’s also the mentality of not giving up at the first hurdle to like the 25th hurdle because they just come at you and knocked you down. I just read this book called Win the Day, and he gave this example of this bird, it’s called a King Fisher, and it’s one of the most highly covenant birds in terms of fishing, like it has this incredible fishing finesse, one of the best birds at fishing and catching fish out of water. And the guys sat there and watched the King Fisher try to catch a fish, and it took him 37 tries. Like the best bird catching a fish. 37, it took him 37 tries to catch a fish. That’s like if you would have given up at the 36 try, you would have been one away from catching the fish, and it’s like… I love that. Failure is actually… I’m just constantly trying to teach my kids that failure is the catalyst for learning. 100 percent! Things like tenacity is so necessary, that it’s like, you have to be willing to solve the problems and learn and grow, because failure is for sure coming at you. (44:11)


Born and raised on southern Vancouver Island, was not exactly on the path for a career in the construction industry, but as her time through academics carried on, not knowing what she wanted to do post secondary took her onto a path of exploring unconventional options. It was a struggle to find employment at the time as being petite female teenager, as employers didn’t exactly take her seriously. But through persistence and determination and one employer giving her the benefit of the doubt, she landed her first job in the industry as a roofing labourer. Now 17 years later, a shingle roofer, Red Seal journeyman Plumber, Class B gas fitter and successful, award winning plumbing and gas business owner, she is paving the way for young women seeking a career in the building trades, showing first hand that you can do whatever you set your mind to with a little persistence, motivation and determination.


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