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Published March 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

Flipping the career switch

Electrician fell into job she now loves
It took a flood and 15 years for one local woman to fall into her dream job. After area flooding, some residents are forced to rebuild their homes. But a flood in the early 1990s inspired Grace Cummings Pas to rebuild a career.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

It took a flood and 15 years for one local woman to fall into her dream job.

After area flooding, some residents are forced to rebuild their homes. But a flood in the early 1990s inspired Grace Cummings Pas to rebuild a career.

The wife and mother of three was always the one to repair things around her house. So after a flood damaged her Moorhead home, she went out and bought a basic home wiring kit to rewire the basement’s electricity.

“You know, I really like this,” she thought then.

The Moorhead mother in her 30s liked the work so much she decided it was time to drop her housewife routine and go back to work.

Fast-forward through two years of school and 16 years in the industry and the now 50-year-old master electrician is running a booming business.

“And bam – it just started to go,” she said of Moorhead-based Grace Electric, which she started five years ago. She now serves a 100-mile radius of the F-M area. “I just triple (business) every year … we’ve done very well.”

The master electrician knows her story of falling into a career is a bit unconventional, and her job is rather untraditional.

But except for a few surprised looks at first – even from her family – most people support her career, she said.

“I think I’m accessible and … maybe nonthreatening, too,” she said about being a female electrician.

And in doing so, she’s become an inspiration to her kids.

“She’s a role model to myself, my brother and my sister,” said daughter Meghan Dahnke, 20, of Cooperstown, N.D. “I think it’s unique she’s a woman doing that. It’s really impressive.”

She even impresses her nine employees.

“She cares about her employees,” electrician Al Dimmer said about his “awesome” boss. “You’re not just a number on a timecard.”

Yet when it comes down to numbers of female electricians, Cummings Pas is a rare breed. In 2002, women made up 2.5 percent of electricians nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“People won’t delve into electricity,” Cummings Pas said. “Both men and women do not know anything about it.

“We’re mavericks,” she added with a laugh.

And that’s fine with the Moorhead woman, who has no plans to go back to her previous career in retail.

“I wish I knew when I was 20 that this is what I want to do because I love it,” she said. “I really do like what I do for a living … and I think that’s why I’m successful.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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