As one of the first women to retire from Painters Local 7 Union with a pension through the working field, Lynn has over 32 years of experience and proudly worked at OCP for 19 years. Lynn transferred to OCP from another company after hearing all of the good things employees had to say about the organization. “They would rave about a good work environment and a family-friendly work environment,” Lynn explained.
Appreciative is the best way to describe Lynn’s feelings toward her career accomplishments. She wants everyone to know that they can do it too. “Any woman can get in this trade and support a family. Many women don’t realize you can not only support your family but live comfortably. If you work smart and learn from experienced mentors, you can retire healthy with a good pension. Simply try your best to work year round and get your hours in. Be all about the work and have a good attitude and you’ll do well. I wouldn't trade it for the world.”
Leaving a legacy is Lynn's favorite aspect of the industry. “I can point to buildings and tell my children, ‘I painted that,’ ‘I worked on that job site.’” Sometimes Lynn would get to work alongside her brother, a carpenter, or even at one of the projects her father, a Chief draftsman, created.
Lynn acknowledges that it isn't easy for women in the industry, and oftentimes, they have to work harder to prove themselves. “There's not a lot of women in this industry and the ones that are getting overlooked. Fellow colleagues don't realize [women] have been in the trades for a long time and are experienced. Many times, when I would show up to work, there would be 200 men on the jobsite and I would be the only woman. I tried to focus on the fact that I was there for the same reason they were, and I can do this.”
Lynn advises new employees to be willing to learn and diversify their knowledge so you will be more valuable and employable. When first starting out, Lynn would gladly gain new experience by listening carefully to senior painters and wall covering installers. “Old-timers in the trades would tell me to do it their way first, and I would oblige. By carefully listening to them, I was able to put the best techniques together and eventually create my own way. That's how I learned to install wallpaper, cloth, foils, and complete faux finishes.”
Throughout her years of experience, Lynn handled complex jobs for OCP, such as the Toledo Casino where she installed a single piece of 54” wide by 30 ft tall wallpaper. She also completed a mural project at the Toledo Public Library within the children's room.
Lynn hopes other women hear her story and it inspires them to also join the fields. “Women need to know they can do this. There's nothing holding you back except yourselves.”