Phoenix businesswoman defies odds in a man’s world

Kitty Langmade with her mother, Mary Maloney. (Submitted photo)

It’s not unusual in 2015 for a woman to be a president of a company.

But it is somewhat unsual for a female to be president of a plumbing and construction company.

Biltmore resident and licensed plumber Kathryn “Kitty” Langmade has followed in her father’s footsteps and is president of the company he started in 1964, W.J. Maloney Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.

Ms. Langmade also works very closely with her mother, who is 83 years old and still comes to work in the office.

“My dad started it, and it was primarily construction,” Ms. Langmade said during a July 29 phone interview.

Over the years, Ms. Langmade and her mother worked together and began adding other services to the company.

Ms. Langmade was 32 when she first started working with the family business and was helping her mother with payroll.

“I had gotten married and came back, and (my mom’s) secretary had quit and (she) needed help with payroll and general accounting,” Ms. Langmade said. “I just worked at the kitchen table for like six months, and helped her in her office.”

Ms. Langmade officially joined the company in October 1996 and worked in several departments before becoming the president in 2009.

“She has met the challenge to be a woman in a man’s field,” said Mary Maloney, Ms. Langmade’s mother.

Ms. Maloney credits her daughter’s success to taking the company over during a troubled time in the construction industry.

“She has had to go through those ups and downs,” said Ms. Maloney. “That is the thing with construction in Phoenix. But I think she has had to realize what she’s had to do to be a woman in a man’s world.”

Ms. Maloney admits she enjoys coming in and keeping up with what’s going on in the company.

“Her presence is what’s important; she has a very calming effect,” said Ms. Langmade of her mother.

“She also has a positive influence in the construction world, and knows a lot of people. Early on in the day, we had a retail counter and they sold parts, and that phased out. She knows a lot about plumbing, actually.”

Luckily for her daughter, Ms. Maloney isn’t planning on quitting anytime soon.

“I’m supposed to be retired now, but there probably won’t be a drastic change for a couple years,” said Ms. Maloney. “Otherwise just coming here for a few hours and sometimes staying all day, it works out.”

Ms. Langmade is an alumna of Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix and has been living in the Biltmore area for years.

“In 1975 we built a house on Missouri, and that’s where she lives now,” said Ms. Maloney.

She earned a Master of Business Administration degree in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Colorado State University.

Since Ms. Langmade has taken over the firm, W.J. Maloney, Plumbing, Heating and Cooling has contributed to prominent buildings in the Valley such as the Chicago Cubs Spring Training Facility in Mesa, Phases I, II, III and IV of CityScape Phoenix, the Sky Train Project at Sky Harbor International Airport and the Mariposa Land Port of Entry.

“She started out in service and that’s one thing that’s very important,” said Ms. Maloney. “She went into it full strength, did all the background and went to the meetings.”

The company is comprised of three business units: Commercial New Construction, Plumbing Services and HVAC Service.

“Right now, doing all the work at the airport is really exciting,” said Ms. Langmade.

W.J. Maloney Plumbing was selected in July to provide plumbing contracting services for Component I of the $590 million renovation of Terminal 3 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

An artistic rendering of the exterior of Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor Airport after renovations being completed by W.J. Maloney. (Submitted photo)

An artistic rendering of the exterior of Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor Airport after renovations being completed by W.J. Maloney. (Submitted photo)

The three-stage renovation project is expected to be completed in 2020, according to a press release.  Component I includes a major renovation of the Terminal 3 Processor building, including the mezzanine, passenger, service and street levels.  The south and north concourses of the terminal will be renovated in Components II and III.

“To be involved with Sky Harbor Terminal 3 renovation now … will be neat,” said Ms. Langmade.

The company has also been recognized for safety — winning multiple Best of the Best Awards from SCF Arizona for being among the Top 120 companies in a pool of nearly 25,000 businesses. The firm is also Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise-certified.

“The reason people remain in business is because you do good work, and provide a good product. And I’m lucky to have good people,” said Ms. Langmade.

According to Jennifer Mellor, vice president of economic development with the Great Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, female leadership is one of Arizona’s strong suites.

“We are ranked No. 4 as a woman-owned-business state,” said Ms. Mellor during a phone interview on Aug. 12. “A lot of those are located in Phoenix.”

Arizona has had four female governors, which leads the nation, according to Ms. Mellor.

“If you look back at 1998 when Gov. (Jane) Hull was in the top position, the top five positions in our state were filled by women,” said Ms. Mellor.

The women surrounding Gov. Hull were Secretary of State Betsy Bayless, Attorney General Janet Napolitano, Treasurer Carol Springer and Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan.

“It’s starting to change the dynamic of business as well,” said Ms. Mellor. “As a woman myself, I think it’s absolutely important and our culture is changing.”

Ms. Mellor also noted that currently, the city of Phoenix has a female fire chief, city prosecutor and economic development director.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at or follow her on Twitter at

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