Adrienne Bennett: First Black Woman Master Plumber Leads Detroit Contracting Company

by Gee NY
Adrienne Bennett. Image Credit: City Of Detroit on Youtube

Adrienne Bennett’s journey from modest accomplishments to running her own contracting company is proof of her resilience and determination in a male-dominated field.

At the age of 30, Bennett carved her name in history by becoming the first black female master plumber and contractor in the United States.

Over three decades later, she stands as the Founder and CEO of Benkari LLC, a Detroit-based contracting company, continuing to challenge norms and inspire others in the industry.

Her path to success was not without obstacles. Despite her early interest in math and science, Bennett faced discrimination that deterred her from pursuing her dream of studying mechanical engineering.

However, a pivotal moment at a 1976 election rally opened doors for her when she was offered a spot in a federally-sponsored apprenticeship program.

Entering a male-dominated field, Bennett encountered challenges and bullying but emerged triumphant as the first woman in Michigan to complete the apprenticeship program successfully.

Her determination led her to achieve another milestone when she became the first black female master plumber in Michigan and the entire United States after passing the master plumber exam.

Even in the face of adversity, including a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1995, Bennett persevered. She took a break but returned stronger, eventually founding Benkari in 2008, venturing into commercial plumbing and water conservation.

Through Benkari, Bennett contributed to Detroit’s revitalization with significant contracts like the Little Caesars Arena and the Anthony Wayne Housing Development. Now in her 60s, she continues to lead her company, navigating the industry with resilience and expertise.

Beyond her own success, Bennett plays a crucial role in shaping the future of the skilled trades industry.

Serving on the advisory board for Lawrence Tech, she inspires and mentors the next generation of tradespeople, ensuring that her legacy of breaking barriers and empowering others endures.

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