Monica Ryan, owner, Village Plumbing
As a kid, Ryan was always following her dad out into the night as he fixed plumbing emergencies. “Basic stuff,” she remembers—stoppage work, clogged drains. Her parents started Village Plumbing in 1946. Ryan never planned on going into the family business, but after her father had a stroke in the early ’80s, the Texas A&M grad traded in her accounting job for a master plumber’s license.
Still in her twenties then, she quickly learned the industry was “a good-old-boy network.” Employees left, salesmen tried to rip her off, and men tended to be more honest with each other than with her, even her own employees. “But I’m pretty honest,” she says. “That works for me.” Today, she has 75 employees, and her company is known for offering quality service that’s both female- and LGBT-friendly. “The culture here is good,” she says. “It’s that way because we want it that way.” —Gwendolyn Knapp