Cornhusker Contractor Builds Certification Career Path
In the cornhusker state, Nebraska, there are good ideas flowing about how to improve and grow the HVACR industry. One of those ideas is using NATE certification as a career path for your technicians. That idea is coming from Wade Mayfield of Thermal Services in Omaha. Mayfield is president and CEO of Thermal Services, which was started in 1968 and has grown to 100 employees today.
One of the reasons that Thermal Services does so well is they hire people and then send them through their well thought out, in-house training program. This program has been revamped to put a strong focus on NATE certification to create a clear career path for the technicians.
“The company was looking at the pool we had to hire from and we started thinking that it would be best to hire people who had great character and then teach them the skills they needed to be a technician,” says Mayfield. “We decided we needed to have an in-house training program to be successful that way. So, I started going to some training and started hearing about NATE certification and that is when I realized there was a real opportunity for us.”
At the time Thermal Services was working on putting together their own in-house program, there was little NATE presence in Omaha, so they knew that getting the company involved would be a great distinguishing factor for them.
Getting Employee Buy-In
As with any program, the company has to get employee buy-in to be successful. So, instead of just mandating that employees needed to get NATE certified, the company did the research and built an incentive program for the employees, which does include raises for achieving new levels of success. Mayfield, who was a technician at the time, was one of the people in the company to benefit from this new program. And as he moved up in the company, he worked on improving the program, so it continued to meet the needs of all the technicians.
“When we created our Thermal University program, we created a clear career path that would allow our employees to grow,” says Mayfield. “It’s an apprenticeship program built around NATE. All our technicians start with the NATE Core, which we pay for the first time around, once they pass that test, they move on to the other NATE certifications. Then once those are completed, they go for their Journeyman Licensing.”
One of the great things that Mayfield points out about NATE certifications is that they can count for two year of practical experience in the city of Omaha, so it just made sense to his company to implement this career path.
”We want our employees to see that continuing to grow and improve has many benefits,” adds Mayfield. “We know that not everyone wants to go to a four year college or trade school, so NATE certification is one way they can validate their skills set. Our techs are more empowered because of NATE certifications, are more confident, and perform better with customers in general because they have a lot of pride in the work they do.”
And while it’s great to have an incentive program, the training program has to be equally as strong. This is why Thermal University has a trainer on staff, Tim Dreager. Dreager uses a variety of training materials to help the techs prepare for certifications, but the basis for the programs are the NATE Essential CD sets.
Thermal Services techs participate in training at the company’s in-house training program, Thermal University.
“Tim uses the NATE Essential CDs because they are comprehensive and easy to use when he is working with techs,” says Mayfield. “They are also easy for someone to go back and review a specific section if they need a little more time on the subject.”
[note type=”help”]Click here to learn more about ACCA’s popular NATE Essentials video training packages.[/note]
Why Get Involved?
Even with a proven record, there are still many people who don’t understand how NATE Certification can benefit their company. To Mayfield, those people just don’t make sense.
“If you want people working for you that don’t want to think and only want the maximum for the minimum, then NATE certification isn’t for you,” says Mayfield. “However, if you want empowered, confident, hard working people, you should start a NATE program within your company. Our techs think like entrepreneurs, because they know that we are standing behind them and encouraging them to continue to grow and improve. It really makes for a better company.”
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