Annie Tooley

Korey Leonard

Co-owner of septic installation company

I realized I loved what I did when I was 18, sitting with my grandfather (the founder of the company), & my brother in our office. ⁣

I felt fortunate that my grandfather, despite his age, still came to work every day, allowing me to soak up as much of his wisdom and knowledge as possible while he was still here. ⁣

I think my love and motivation for our line of work grew by watching and being around someone truly passionate about the industry.⁣

Our father, who ran the company, pushed my brother and me away from the business our entire lives. ⁣

He wanted us to go to school & find an easier means of making a living. ⁣

When he passed away during my sophomore year of high school, I decided, just a week before starting college, to tell my mom that I couldn't let my grandparents run the business on their own at their age. ⁣

I began interning at the company the next year, cleaning portable restrooms for $11.00 an hour. ⁣

There was no nepotism—I started at the bottom & worked my way up to various roles, including estimator, operator, office manager, laborer, & everything in between. ⁣

Being a small business owner is challenging because you must wear many hats, but the feeling of a hard day's work is second to none. That's what makes this line of work so great, though. No two jobs are the same, there's no complacency, and you learn daily.⁣

I believe we need to start the conversation about our industry early—not just when someone turns 18 but during high school. I can't stress its importance to future infrastructure improvements and expansions enough. ⁣

The world currently faces a shortage of skilled workers, but we've put ourselves here. Skilled trades have been sidelined, & now we're seeing the repercussions. ⁣

There's been a negative sentiment towards trades over the last 20 years, mainly due to a lack of information, honest figures, and access. ⁣

While everyone has been pushing for college, few have promoted our industry in schools at the same time. We need to educate young people about the benefits of working in our industry early on!"

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