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Women in the Trades: Meet GNI’s Only All-Female Crew

March 02, 2022

an interview with GNI's only all-female crew, tiffany and sabrina title card

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. And we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by introducing you to two strong, capable young women who are breaking down biases in their jobs, every day. 

Like most construction trades, insulation is a pretty male-dominated field. So when you’re getting your attic insulated and a female crew shows up at your house, it can be a bit of a surprise. Although there are 10 female crew members across all Great Northern Insulation locations, Sabrina and Tiffany, who work at GNI’s Woodstock branch, are the company’s only full-time all-female team. We talked to them about their careers, their days on the job, and what it’s like being a woman in the trades. 

Do you often get surprised reactions when you walk into a job site? 

Sabrina: ALL THE TIME. At first, people are a little shocked, and then, a lot of them are happy, and in some cases, relieved. But sometimes there’s skepticism mixed in there, too. They’re like “It’s just you? No one else is coming?” But generally, our experiences have been pretty positive. 

Tiffany: We recently had a customer who is a young mom – she was home with her baby while her husband was at work. The day she was having the work done, she had a friend come over because she assumed it was going to be two guys coming into her house, and she didn’t want to be alone. When she saw us, she was really happy. 

How did you end up working together on the same truck? 

Sabrina: Tiffany is actually the one who got me to come work at GNI – we’ve been friends for years. We work together well, but being a team is convenient. While we all start work at the same time, when we finish really depends on the job we’re doing that day. And since we both live in London, it just works out better as we can share a ride to and from work.

How did you end up becoming insulation installers? 

Tiffany: I went to college for Outdoor and Adventure education, but it was too seasonal so I decided to study carpentry instead. In carpentry school – it was actually part of the Women in Skilled Trades program – someone from GNI came in to do a presentation about the company. I knew I wanted to do something other than framing and working outdoors all the time, so I applied, and I’ve been here for a year and a half now. 

Sabrina: I was working in the culinary field, but with COVID, hospitality wasn’t doing so great. I started doing lawn care and realized I really like working with my hands and doing something more physical. But lawn care is seasonal and I was looking for something I could do year-round, so that’s when Tiff introduced me to Great Northern. 

customer quote from homestars about tiffany and sabrina

What’s it like working in such a male-dominated field? 

Tiffany: Well, since there are only three female crew members at the Woodstock office, we definitely get attention. During my first week, a bunch of other installers came up to me and said “Congratulations, you’re the woman who’s been here the longest.” And I was like…after a week?? Apparently the one they hired before me only lasted three days. Not sure why – everyone is really respectful, although sometimes new guys will want to carry the ladder and do stuff for us. 

They realize pretty fast that we can do it. And I kind of roll my eyes and think “yeah, I’ve been doing this longer than you have.” But I do realize that change takes time. We’re setting a new standard here, and it takes people a while to get used to seeing women in these jobs and understand how capable we are. 

You both moved into insulation from very different industries – what was it like making the switch? 

Sabrina: I’ve never done anything in construction, so it was a little tough while I got the hang of things. But the company provided training and paired me with a more experienced installer, so I learned pretty fast. I really like the face-to-face interactions we have with customers – it’s nice to be able to talk to them, we’re not just there to do our jobs and leave. 

Tiffany: It was less of a transition for me, since I was already in construction, but there was still a lot to learn. But you pick things up pretty fast when you’re doing something for 8 hours every day. Plus, they paired me with young, like-minded guys to make sure I was comfortable. They’re all great guys, I didn’t have problems with anybody. 

What would you say to another woman who’s thinking of becoming an installer – or just going into the trades? 

Tiffany: I’d say don’t go in expecting a stereotype. Just because it’s mostly men doesn’t mean you’ll be working with a bunch of sexist guys who are going to give you a hard time. Go in with an open mind, be willing to learn, and understand that things are changing. And also keep in mind that while it isn’t a particularly hard job, it can be challenging. You have to be comfortable getting dirty, fitting in tight spaces, and going into dark areas. 

Sabrina: And you can’t be afraid of spiders! I used to be, but this job has toughened me up. 

Interested in becoming an insulation installer? 

If you’re looking for a satisfying, year-round career with a company that supports you, helps you grow and keeps you busy, we’d love to hear from you. We’re hiring for positions across Ontario – apply today! 

 

Western Ontario

935 Keyes Drive
Woodstock, Ontario
Canada N4V 1C3

Phone: 1-800-265-1914

Fax: (519) 539-7946
TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Southwestern Ontario

7035 Industrial Drive
Comber, Ontario
Canada N0P 1J0

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Muskoka, Haliburton, Northern Ontario

1027 Elwell Park Road
Gravenhurst, Ontario
Canada P1P 1R1

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Central Ontario

29 Ferndale Industrial Drive
Barrie, Ontario
Canada L4N 9V5

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

GTA East

103 North Port Road
Port Perry, Ontario
Canada L9L 1B2

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

GTA & South Central Ontario

450 Industrial Dr,
Toronto (Milton), Ontario
Canada L9T 5A6

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Eastern Ontario

1035 Moodie Dr #1,
Nepean, ON
K2R 1H4

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Sarnia/Lambton

259 Campbell Street
Sarnia Ontario
Canada, N7T 2H3

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Niagara Region

6260 Don Murie St
Niagara Falls, ON
L2G 0B4

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

BBB

Great Northern Insulation - Better Business Bureau Profile.

Homestars

Best of 2017

From reputation to responsiveness, HomeStars consistently ranks Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction. Thanks to everyone for the great ratings! 

HomeStars 2018

Best of 2018

For the second year in a row, HomeStars consistently ranks Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction. Thank you again to everyone!

Homestars Best of 2019 Award

Best of 2019

For the third year in a row, HomeStars ranked Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction.

Homestars Best of 2020 Award

Best of 2020

For four years now, HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction.

Homestars Best of 2021 Award

Best of 2021

HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation as a company that goes above and beyond in every aspect of business for the year of 2021.

Homestars Best of 2022 Award

Best of 2022

HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation as a company that goes above and beyond in every aspect of business for the year of 2022.

Lowes

GNI is the Authorized & Trusted Insulation and Air Sealing Installer for Lowe’s

Enenrgy Savers

Energy Saving

Energy saving and energy efficiency is easier than one might think. Great Northern Insulation helps to identify performance issues, while taking advantage of improvement opportunities.

100% Canadian

100% Canadian

Great Northern Insulation is recognized as Canada's largest full-service insulation contractor. GNI is 100% Canadian owned, proudly serving Ontario customers since 1980.

Foam Masters

Do it right the first time
- with foam mastersTM

WALLTITE® ECO™ is a high-performance system, professionally installed by certified and approved specialists. Its C.C.M.C. approved (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) - with product quality guaranteed - and with installation by highly trained experts with the technical know-how to do the job right, the first time.

Insulthane Extreme

Insulthane® Extreme

For the ultimate in high performance spray foam insulation, Insulthane® Extreme is the professional choice for residential, commercial, and industrial application. With improved thermal performance over other products, Insulthane® Extreme has an exceptionally low Global Warming Potential (GWP). Considered environmentally friendly, this next generation spray foam insulation is non-ozone depleting, and exceeds specifications of other HFC product alternatives.

3M

3MTM products.
Quality + Performance = Savings

3MTM energy-saving products are designed to keep warm air in, and cold air out, while keeping energy bills down. Products optimize energy efficiency in buildings and homes; improve indoor environment for occupants; and effect the reduction of seasonal energy costs. 3M products are authorized for LEED credits (Leadership in Energy/Environmental Design).

Baeumler

Baeumler ApprovedTM
Professional, Certified and Insured

Baeumler ApprovedTM gives you peace of mind when connecting with contractors, trades and home service providers. All Baeumler Approved members have demonstrated high quality work for customers and other trade professionals. Members must also have Workers Compensation, liability insurance of at least $1,000,000 and prove professional certification.

Holmes and Holmes

Holmes and Holmes

 

Mike Holmes and his son Mike Jr. (MJ) convert MJ’s bachelor bungalow into a two-storey home for MJ and his girlfriend Lisa. Choosing the newest materials and build techniques, the father and son team follow Mike’s famous motto – “Make it right.” The show can be watched on HGTV and DIY Network.

Enbridge

Enbridge Incentives

The Energy Conservation Program provides incentives of up to $1,600 to customers who achieve energy efficiency and fuel savings – and Great Northern Insulation can pave the way.

Renomark

Great Northern Insulation proudly abides by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct set by RenoMark™.

eRenovate

We are Verified & Bonded by eRenovate. When you choose to proceed with our services through their platform, you receive the gaurantees set forth through their program.

As Seen on Love It or List It

The GNI crew have been featured installing insulation on Love It or List It - have you seen our logo in an episode?

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