09/29/2015 12:05 EDT | Updated 09/29/2016 05:12 EDT

This Woman Wants to Shake Up the Male-Dominated Trades Industry


At an increasingly vocal time to achieve gender equality in business, Mandy Rennehan is an inspiring leader to follow. Rennehan, 39, is the founder and CEO of Freshco, the first full-service, on-call retail maintenance provider in Canada and the Eastern United States, servicing clients like Apple, Nike and Restoration Hardware.

Rennehan recently ranked 25 of 100 Canadian top female entrepreneurs. She also leads a self-established initiative to encourage children and women to get more involved in the trades -- it's an important endeavour in an industry traditionally dominated by men.

We recently discussed her role running one of the most successful retail maintenance companies in North America.

How do you challenge yourself?

Whether it's re-imagining old structures, establishing my latest business called RennDuPrat ,or entering the world of residential construction -- I'm always on the lookout for new opportunities. Most recently, my vision to repurpose a windmill and jailhouse in my hometown of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, has attracted new business, creativity and visitors to the town. Although I'm starting this work in Yarmouth, I hope to take on similar projects in struggling towns across Canada.

What career and life advice do you have for new college grads?

My advice is to stop hiding behind any comfort zones that you may have become accustomed to in school or while living at home. They are only a mirage of real life. Instead, make sure your personality holds the same value as the skill set you've graduated with. The two together is what's going to make you different. Today, I see a lot of young people hiding behind technology and it is hurting their advancement. When the boss genuinely likes you and your talents, they are a lot more forgiving of mistakes. So, when you make them, just be honest and respectful to ensure the road to success never ends.

What's the most enjoyable part of your job?

I enjoy mentoring Freshco talent and purposefully spinning them out of control to see where their confidence and skill set takes them. The average age of our employees is 29, and I'm proud to say that this young workforce is thriving. When they learn to embrace turns they've never dreamed of, such as a new project or position, their lives can blossom both professionally and personally. I believe the two run parallel to each other, contrary to popular belief.

What do you want other female entrepreneurs to learn from your journey?

I want female entrepreneurs to know that just one, audacious, unflinching and venturesome woman is an army. To be successful, you have to want it more than anything else in the world. That requires thinking outside the box, guts and accepting nothing less than the best work ethic and outcomes. It's so easy to quit when life hits you hard on other fronts, but that won't make you the powerful and confident person you dream of becoming. I believe these three traits can shape you into a mentoring force that encourages other women to continue fighting against gender inequality in business.

Who's had the biggest influence on your life and why?

My parents have always been incredibly supportive, and they knew from a young age that I was different. They allowed me to explore this on my own, and they never once questioned my decisions. This simple, loving view of life has kept me very grounded in the fast-paced world I live in. Now, with my philanthropic ventures based in Yarmouth, I'm able to spend a lot of time with them and for that I am forever grateful. To me, being able to participate in a down-home game of cards and a lobster dinner is, well, priceless.

I'm fascinated by creative women -- their passions, challenges, and contributions to society. If you know a creative woman to feature, please tweet @kmarano.


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