No pipe dream: 1st African-American woman master plumber tackles train station

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After 30 years of abandonment, Ford Motor Company made a splash in the summer of 2018, buying and repurposing the old Michigan Central Station.
It was a splash-literally with four feet of water in the basement and it became an ice rink the last few months.  The first step in rebuilding the old relic was drying it out.  Adrienne Bennett and her company Benkari, was hired to do the job. 

"I'll try to figure out how to get the arteries back working, how to get the water flowing in the veins, how to get the building to do what it supposed to do," said Adrienne Bennett.  

Getting one of the biggest projects in town has a story behind it.  Bennett is the first black woman in the country to become a master plumber.  
Her latest job? Drying out, dewatering the site of Ford's Electric and Autonomous Vehicle center. 

"Right now we're in the process of eliminating all the water that's been standing in the building," she said. "The building has been abandoned for 30 years and so now it's time for us to come in and start giving it a little TLC." 

Being first is something she's gotten used to.  Her plumbing career started in 1976 when she was offered $50,000 a year to be part of an apprenticeship program. 
The struggle, a woman in what was a man's world, was real.  

"I was called all kinds of names, and yes, I was told I wasn't wanted," she said. "They didn't want me here; they didn't need me here. For 20-some years I heard that, every day. 

"But, that's too bad, I'm here.  The more they decided to push me away the more I decided to stay." 

The only names she's called now are consummate professional, perfectionist, told model. Just ask the man from Ford who hired her to do the job.  

"Great work ethic, says and does everything. Everything she says, she does, she comes after it. Just a truly a great person," said Rich Bardelli, Ford Motor Company. "Everything she does here has been top notch."

She worked on Little Caesars Arena, and now Ford's newest projects restoring one of Detroit's oldest eyesores into a gem. 
A lesson from a woman who for 40 years has been told no.  

"It's not going to be easy," she said. "Anything that's worth having is worth working for and making a commitment to.  Don't cheat yourself, if this is something you really want."  

Meaning no one, or nothing can stand in the way.  Like the old train station even when dreams seem hard to imagine, rebuild, rework and stay with a plan.  

"You don't let a sickness, a man, your parents, you decide what you want to do and you stick with it," she said.