Grit is no feat for cowgirl welder Kaylin Leas. She is the first-ever female piping lead for TDIndustries and is determined to “spark” change beyond the construction site. As if this isn’t monumental enough, having not attended a trade school, Kaylin learned her welding skills on the job. She has undoubtedly paved the way for women in the construction industry.
Growing up, Kaylin always knew she liked putting together pieces and seeing how things work. Her curiosity and perseverance carried her through many life challenges and allowed her to conquer her dreams simultaneously. This overcomer’s story of hard work, grit, and determination paves the way for many generations, especially women.
Kaylin wears several pairs of boots as she grew up eating, sleeping, and breathing rodeo. She remembers being intrigued with the sport of rodeo and always had horses to ride. Her family encouraged her to compete as her mother and aunt were barrel racers, her uncles rode bulls, and her sister rodeoed alongside her, too.
Kaylin boasts several state and national champion titles within youth rodeo organizations, such as the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) and the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA). A highlight of her career was rodeoing alongside rodeo superstars such as Amberley Snyder and Jordan Peterson (Briggs) when she competed on Bozo. “When we were little, I made sure to get Jordan’s autograph,” Kaylin said, “because I knew she was going to be a champion someday.”
Kaylin honed in on her rodeo roots as she described her journey to success. “Rodeo shaped me into who I am today,” she said. Both she and her sister were able to attend college on rodeo scholarships. While attending college, she also worked 3 jobs and college rodeoed.
Kaylin started her career in industrial construction after college. She sent her horses back to her parents in Nevada to let her sister use them in high school rodeo, and with not much more than her pick-up truck, work boots, and dogs, she headed for Castle Dale, UT, and lived with family while she started her new career.
A job opportunity presented itself for Kaylin and she was encouraged by her mom, as she knew she would be a great welder. “My mom reminded me that I know how to use tools because I’ve worked with my dad,” Kaylin said.
When she first stepped onto the job sites, she let her work speak for itself to her crew mates, who may not have worked with women in trades roles before. Kaylin recalled that when she was new to a job, it took a while for some to accept her. She believes one of the biggest stereotypes women experience is the expectation that they won’t be accepted or respected in a trades role. However, in Kaylin’s experience, as she quickly proved her skills and value, she and her crewmates helped each other and built a friendly rapport.
Kaylin never let the fact that’s she’s a female in a male dominate profession hinder her from achieving her dream.
Kaylin worked extra hours practicing her new trade: pipe welding. She even dove through dumpsters to find scrap metal to practice with. She learned how to strike an arc and started with stick welding. “When I first started to learn how to weld, it was frustrating,” Kaylin said. “But, I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I would pick up the stinger and try again. After working at it, and perfecting it, I find it relaxing.” She credits the fact that because she took the initiative to learn, her crew mates helped her. “‘Hey, can you help me?’ Those were hard words for me,” Kaylin said.
Kaylin sparks inspiration wherever she goes… “If there’s something you really want to do… Go do it! You don’t need anyone’s permission.” To learn more about TDIndustries, visit https://www.tdindustries.com