This past September, as part of Trim-Tex’s ongoing Women in Drywall program, a drywall finisher from Bozeman, Mont., named Lydia Crowder — better known to her 124,000 followers on Instagram (at the time of writing) and beyond as Drywall Shorty — visited our headquarters in Lincolnwood, Ill. Besides taking a personal tour of our plant where all our vinyl corner bead solutions are manufactured and getting a sneak peek at some of the exciting new stuff we have coming up in the next year, we were fortunate enough to have Lydia lead a workshop with the women of Trim-Tex.
Lydia, fresh off gracing the cover of Women in Trade magazine and joining The Build Show network, had a lot to teach our women’s group, from pointers on navigating traditionally male trades to her techniques for installing some our corner beads, like the paper-covered Fast Edge®. When we spoke to her after the event, we found out we weren’t the only ones learning a thing or two that day — Lydia came away with some fresh new perspectives as well.
“It was really cool to just talk to the women and see their experiences that they've had working in a more male-dominated industry,” says the popular Bozeman finisher. “I shared that I liked their products, how to use the products, how to install them, and just give them a feel for what it looks like. I'm sure a lot of them make it, but they don't know how we're installing it or how we're using it … I think it's amazing that women are on the line, making the product, producing the product there on that initial end. Then it comes to us and it's cool to know that a woman made this product that I'm now using on a jobsite. It's just really cool seeing everything tied in; women producing and then women using.”
The day began with an outdoor lunch for the women’s group, where they enjoyed each other’s company and swapped stories, and Lydia spoke to the group about her experiences as a professional woman in drywall and co-owner of a small business.
Then, they headed into our onsite training lab, where Lydia led a hands-on drywall finishing tutorial. Many members of the Trim-Tex team spend all day working on drywall accessories, but this was a chance to actually see how their hard work pays off in the field, with Lydia covering everything from corner bead installation to mudding with a flat box.
The workshop concluded with Lydia being presented with a small token of our gratitude — a model of her Drywall Shorty logo, handmade by Trim-Tex Product Manager Enrique Perez entirely made from drywall and Archway Corner Beads.
“I asked Lydia to come visit Trim-Tex because she is a top leader in the drywall community, and any time I have interacted with her she has always been a pleasure to work with,” said Trim-Tex Social Media Specialist Cait Driscoll, who was key to organizing this entire event. “I think Lydia does an excellent job of using her online platforms to share her brand story and drywall finishing expertise. I believe she is a great role model for other women (and men) in the construction industry because she has proven that not only is she a hard worker, but she continually grows and expands her way of doing things in her career; she is open to change. I think it’s also worth noting that many other drywall professionals who I have spoken to while doing social media for Trim-Tex have also identified Lydia as someone who they look up to in the drywall community, so it was very easy to pick Lydia as the next ‘Women in Drywall’ influencer to visit Trim-Tex. Of course, she also loves Trim-Tex products, so that’s a bonus!”
After the workshop, Lydia hung around and enthusiastically answered questions from some of the younger women in the group. Education on the craft of finishing has increasingly become a cornerstone of Lydia’s work, whether it’s through her Instagram page or her recent work teaching courses via the online training platform MT Copeland. Lydia told us that, if we want to engage more women to join the trades, it may prove invaluable to have women in mentorship roles like this — it can go a long way toward making these soon-to-be tradeswomen feel more welcome.
“I think something that could be really fantastic is some training for women where they could be hands-on with other women — whether that's a bus that goes around and opens up training, like if you come on a Saturday and use tools or try different things, but having a woman teaching you how to do those things would be fantastic,” Lydia said. “Some men are very good teachers also, but I think you can be intimidated when you walk onto a jobsite and they're surrounded by men; they may look at you differently or you feel like you're having to prove that you belong there. The last thing you want to do is go ask a question, or you might be struggling with something, but you don't want to ask for help because then you don't want people to think that you don't know what you're doing. I think it creates an environment that's hard to learn in sometimes because if you're afraid to ask questions, you're never going to grow.”
While there’s still a ton of work to be done when it comes to welcoming more women into the trades — and narrowing the skilled labor gap in the process — events like this give us hope that we are starting to see a real change in the status quo. With women like Lydia as a teacher and role model, we can’t wait to meet the next generation of women in drywall.
“Women are out there doing it,” Lydia says. “You might not always see us. You drive by a jobsite and sometimes it's just full of men, but there's women there! And there's getting to be more and more women, thankfully, that are starting to enter the trade. Just start trying — you'll never learn if you don't try!”
To learn more about our Women in Drywall program, and to read some of the stories we’ve shared about women making names for themselves in the trades (including Drywall Shorty herself), hit the button below!