Canadian Design and
Construction Report special feature
Ashley Munro has been involved in the glazing industry since she was a young girl. Though she says glazing is still a highly male-dominated and largely unknown profession, she has experienced success and fulfillment as president of Evolution Glass.
Growing up, Munro had experience working for her father who was a glazier and owned his own company. She says she started helping out during summer breaks, and gradually worked her way up through various positions, learning the business along the way. “It started as a convenient summer job – working for my dad – but I quickly found I loved the work, and loved the challenge.”
In 2012 she and her husband Richard and their partner Marc Blakney, started Evolution Glass. In the three years it has been in operation, the trio have more than tripled the company’s facilities and capacity.
Saying the partners and staff are a strong team, Munro is comfortable in her role within the company, despite the fact that she is one of two women out of a staff of 58. She says the gender discrepancy is never an issue because she has always worked with respectful people and she is not easily intimidated personally. “At the end of the day people are people, regardless of age or gender. I’d love to see more women working with us but the fact is that we don’t see women applying.”
Munro said her sister worked in the fabrication shop during her summer break and thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on aspect. She anticipates re-turning next summer.
Part of the numbers issue, she believes, is that glazing doesn’t get the recognition of other trades. “Many people don’t know what a glazier does, that it is more than working with glass.”
She says glazing is a very service-oriented business and despite the country’s current recession status, the company currently has more than 10 openings for skilled glaziers.
Evolution Glass she says has been very involved since its inception in Alberta’s apprentice program. This year the company will have 10 apprentices training at various times throughout the year.
Munro says one of the advantages of a career in the trades is job security, even during slower times. “If you can do the job and are willing to work hard, you will absolutely be able to weather slow times and have a career for life.”
And within glazing she says, there is more to the career than most people think. “We are constantly learning – about energy efficiency, safety, new installation processes, and every day the job can be something different and in-volve a different challenge to solve.”
She says the glazing industry as well is a tight-knit group. Companies like Evolution Glass work hard to make sure their employees find careers they love so that going to work every day is something to look forward to. “The Provincial Glaziers Association of Alberta (PGAA) is a close group and although members are technically competitors, everyone is supportive, knows one another and works well together.”
Her advice to women considering a career in the trades is to not be intimidated or afraid to try something they are interested in, or to do something they love. “The trades have evolved and they will accommodate anyone with skill. Life is about doing what you want and what makes you happy. If that is a trade, then you have a win-win in many ways.”