Bridget McDonald is one of a growing number of women working in the heavy equipment industry and, like many women, she was drawn to this type of career due to family connections. McDonald’s father, Jerry, worked for Case Power and Equipment for 25 years. However, other than attending occasional company events, McDonald’s actual exposure to the heavy equipment industry was rather limited. That all changed in 1996, when she, her father and her brother, Matt, bought Case’s Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware, stores – and Eagle Power and Equipment was born.
“Eagle Power and Equipment is a family-owned business,” McDonald says. “When we purchased the company, I didn’t have much experience in the industry at all. I just wanted to work alongside my family in a business and industry that offered a lot of opportunities.”
Jerry McDonald passed away in 2015, just one year before Eagle Power and Equipment celebrated its 20th anniversary. His son, Matt, took over as company president, and Bridget serves as vice president. Eagle Power and Equipment rents, sells, maintains and repairs construction and industrial equipment from Case, Kubota and other well-known brands. In addition to the Montgomeryville and New Castle dealerships, it also boasts a third location in Eagle (Uwchlan Township), Pennsylvania.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, McDonald has faced her fair share of struggles specific to her gender. During her brief stint working in her dealership’s service department, she often encountered customers who didn’t respect women or didn’t believe that a woman could give them the answers they needed. But McDonald didn’t let it get her down.
“I decided to basically just ignore it after a while,” she says. “You can either choose to get very offended or very upset about it, or just accept the fact that people at that point in time when I was working there weren’t willing to change their minds about females. Just move on and get them the answers they need from someone who makes them feel more comfortable.”
Fortunately, McDonald says, things are different now: “I really feel that those attitudes have changed over time as the result of a general change, a universal change in thought,” she says. “I think the division of male and female roles in the workplace has changed; I notice it in our industry. Also, I think people in this industry aren’t as concerned about ‘male’ and ‘female’ when there’s a lack of workforce in general.”
To bring more workers into the industry – whether male or female – McDonald suggests stressing the fact that dealerships are good businesses that offer strong careers and the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills. “The opportunities in the heavy equipment industry are really diverse: accounting, sales, parts, service, etc.”
For women starting a career in the heavy equipment industry, McDonald has this advice:
“Be your best self, get your customer in and out, and make them as happy as you can. Just try to deal with situations the best you can, and as long as you put your best foot forward and have passion for what you do, you’ll be welcome in the industry. It’s similar to any job you might do, in that your goal is to do your best and help out as many people as you can.”
When she’s not busy performing her duties as vice president of Eagle Power and Equipment, McDonald enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family, and going to the beach.
To learn more about Eagle Power and Equipment, visit www.eaglepowerandequipment.com or connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.