Introducing the 2016 graduating class of Reitmeier University
The skilled trade job market continues to be faced with difficult challenges. In particular, HVAC talent is scarce: mid-level HVAC jobs typically take 12% longer to fill than all other middle-skill jobs nationwide. Because Reitmeier is committed to Leading the Way in everything we do, we decided to take action to prevent this shortage from impacting our industry, our company, and our clients.
In 2014, we launched our own innovative continuing education program, Reitmeier University. Our comprehensive curriculum is designed to develop institutional knowledge while also orienting team members to the Reitmeier way and culture.
“It was clear that our historic methods for bringing in new people were no longer working, and it wasn’t going to sustain our vision for the future,” says Reitmeier President Jeff Nusz. “We hire people who match our values and bring the best service to our customers. Since we couldn’t find the trained techs, we decided to do something radically different. Now we grow them ourselves!”
The risk of implementing an unprecedented practice paid off: we’re proud to introduce our first graduating Reitmeier University class!
A strong foundation for training
Instructor Adam Tucker started his career at the Northwest College of Construction teaching for Oregon’s apprenticeship program. With his experience mentoring younger generations, he has a deep understanding of how Reitmeier University can best serve new employees in the field.
“Reitmeier University was designed as a way to bring Millennials into the trade,” Adam explains. “We knew that traditional teaching methods would present a challenge since this generation is very tech savvy. So, we developed Reitmeier University around an online curriculum – students access textbooks, homework, quizzes, and tests online. As their instructor, this allows me to cater to their technology-driven minds.”
The format of the classes and the opportunities the curriculum presented resonated with students as well.
“I chose to make Reitmeier my place of employment because of their commitment to higher technical education and mentoring programs,” says Manuel, one of our 2016 graduates. “This type of educational training is not something that is provided by any other local HVAC contractor.”
Prepared to face any challenge
A major benefit of Reitmeier University is the opportunity for new employees to learn about HVAC issues they are likely to face in real-world situations.
“One of the most memorable parts of the program was talking with classmates about issues or things they have seen during the week,” notes Reitmeier University graduate, Wyatt. “I learned how valuable it is to communicate with your fellow technicians if you have any questions or issues.”
Each Reitmeier University class meets weekly over the course of the two-year program – topics range from softer skills, such as learning the Reitmeier Way, to an introduction to heating and air conditioning, to more complex lessons like commercial refrigeration.
The classes also present our new Reitmeier employees with opportunities to collaborate, something graduate Sergey appreciates.
“I always looked forward to discussions on diagnosing different problems we might come across,” he says. “The small class size allows you to work through a problem and understand what’s going on.”
Mentorship: The key to success
In addition to a traditional classroom education and online curriculum, we also partner each new Reitmeier hire with an experienced Senior Level Technician. This skilled individual guides them in the field, showing them the best ways to tackle real-world HVAC issues.
“I joined Reitmeier because, being new to the trade, I wanted to work with smart techs who have an even stronger footing in this industry,” says Sergey. “The best part of Reitmeier University is the mentorship aspect. I appreciate learning from Senior-level Techs.”
Reitmeier University students also note how this style of learning can bring Reitmeier employees together.
“The mentorship element has been very helpful,” says Wyatt. “It allows us to develop a stronger working relationship with the Senior Technicians.”
Something to celebrate
While strengthening the skills of our technicians benefits Reitmeier and our clients, our recent Reitmeier University graduates express gratitude for the impact the program has had on their career paths.
“I really wanted a career that would benefit me and my family, and I’ve always had an interest in HVAC,” says Reitmeier University graduate James. “When I was hired at Reitmeier, I learned about the program and that made me want to work here even more. Reitmeier University positively impacted my career, which will help my family in the long run.”
Would the graduates recommend Reitmeier University to others considering the HVAC trade? Absolutely.
“Reitmeier University has provided me with endless opportunities for the future success of our HVAC trade,” Manuel says. “I would highly recommend Reitmeier University to any future HVAC technician looking for exceptional education and training.”
Congrats to our graduates: Manuel, James, Wyatt, and Sergey – and a big thanks to Reitmeier University instructor Adam Tucker!