Learning Resources

OEM Training Develops Smarter, More Efficient Technicians

July 9, 2019
These HVAC product manufacturers responded to our posted request, and provided insight into technician training offerings.

As an industry leader, Victaulic strives to make its continual education courses the best they can be, with the award-winning, Victaulic® University Continuing Education program. 

Continuing education classes offer a wide variety of accredited courses, certifications, and onsite training options. Sessions which are held globally, from one-hour seminars, full-day events, to web-based virtual classrooms, provide education on key industry concepts and Victaulic solutions. Victaulic University courses are created for contractors, owners, engineers, designers, installers, the inspection community, and anyone seeking to expand their knowledge of Victaulic and the industry surrounding the pipe joining and flow control markets. 

The United Association (UA) has partnered with the U.S. military to create a program designed to supply veterans with rewarding careers in the pipe trades, the United Association Veterans In Piping Program (VIP). Victaulic is honored to partner with the UA and be involved with the VIP training initiatives. On April 3rd and 4th 2019, Victaulic had the opportunity to teach a class on Grooving And Installation. Veterans were taught pre-grooving pipe inspection steps, the critical dimensions of a groove, and the grooving process including safety, set-up, and selection.

Victaulic has a standard of excellence in the training of its global sales force. Sales staff must complete sales courses to learn the Victaulic products inside and out, and this process can last up to 16 months. The goal of each class is to bridge the gaps in knowledge, skills, strengthen industry knowledge. Northampton Community College, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is utilized as a training facility for a variety of these classes. Here the learners can apply what they have been taught in the classroom and work with products hands-on. 

Steve Hirchert, a member of Victaulic’s Seattle metro sales force, had this to say about his success with Victaulic’s products:

“I was recently invited to the University of Washington Medical Center to provide training for their Union maintenance workers on current best practices for roll grooving. The class went so well that they requested we have a Victaulic representative return for an installation and inspection course. By partnering together, they were able to self-preform a retrofit on hundreds of feet of Sched 10 SS pipe, saving them thousands on sub-contracting and coordination”.

For more information on the Victaulic University Continuing Education courses or to schedule training, contracting businesses and technicians may contact their local sales representative or send an email request to: [email protected]

Sources report Viega LLC is fully committed to the training and development of people in the piping trades. It operates two state-of-the-art training centers, one in Nashua, NH, and the other at its North American headquarters in Broomfield, CO.

The New Hampshire Seminar Center is located in Nashua, NH. It was first opened in 2006, and renovated in 2017.
This 13,000 sq.ft. facility includes two classrooms, one workshop, one software lab,  and an interactive learning center. Viega training is open to: installers, owners, estimators, project foremen, wholesalers, engineers, educators, and others.

Viega sources said an average of more than 4,500 people a year receive training in courses ranging from one to five days.

Viega Colorado Seminar Center

Viega’s Colorado training facility is located in Broomfield, CO, which is also the location of Viega’s North American headquarters (pictured, courtesy of Viega).

This new facility opened in April 2019. It provides a roomy 25,000 square feet for training, with four classrooms, two workshops and an interactive learning center. 

Training is open to installers, owners, estimators, project foremen, wholesalers, engineers, educators and others.

Sources report this site will see more than 2,500 trainees in 2019, also for courses of one to five-day duration.

Viega sources said both locations offer courses in a variety of subjects, including metal press technology, fire protection technology, hydronics 101, re-piping with PEX, radiant systems, radiant design, pathogen prevention, radiant piping and controls, solar thermal systems, geothermal systems, small business startup, commercial radiant heating and cooling, and more.

Some courses are eligible for continuing education credits. Additionally, courses can be customized.

Training cost includes meals. Add-on options for hotel, airfare and tools also are available. 

To learn more, visit bit.ly/ViegaTraining.

Jason Church, lead trainer for The Unico System, began his HVAC career in 1990, working for an HVAC service company. He later served in the Marines, and then returned to the HVAC company. He started and ran his own company for 12 years, after which time he worked for two years as an HVAC instructor at a St. Louis trade school. He joined Unico to provide technician phone support, and training for technicians in using the Unico I-Series outdoor inverter system.

He continues to provide phone support for field technicians, and has revamped Unico’s training center and website. 

Unico offers training through in-person visits, online and in the field. Factory training exists for contractors who are just beginning to install The Unico System. 

“I highly suggest they come in for training at some point. We review how the products work, and the problems that arise from improper installation, as well as the benefits provided when they’re installed correctly. It’s not a difficult product to install, but it is different from what people are used to,” Church advised.

Church said Unico is staying in step with changing technology but also in changes in how technicians find information and how they learn. 

“It’s a totally different mindset today, with the onset of automatic settings and variable speed. It’s very focused on computers, so I cover that in my class, because we use a computer to adjust airflow on our EC blowers. Not only do I explain the basics such as amp draw, refrigerant charge and subcooling, I also get into detail on how to fine tune the machine. I help them understand the importance of adjusting airflow. If the ductwork is not set up correctly, the customer will not get what they paid for,” Church said.

Unico’s online training is modular. Full courses can be found online, for technicians to study on their own time. Most are narrated, with explanations for each section. 

Church is designing a app that will take the place of books, and which will eventually be available on a flash drive, which will appeal to younger technicians.

“Older technicians want information on paper. But things are changing, with everything made available on a phone or other mobile device,” he said. “If they’re on the job, they can scan a piece of equipment and learn how to set the dead switches on that circuitboard.

Unico also provides webinars as an effective way to help technicians learn within a question-and-answer format. The most recent webinar offering was provided in June. 

“A webinar is the next best thing than being here, and is better than “online training,” because you can get an answer to a question ‘now’ and have a conversation about it,” Church said. “I like the webinar format because I then have a chance to explain something two, three or four times differently, to where someone else can understand it. Oftentimes, someone has a question, but feels like it’s not worth asking, or they are intimidated. This way, I’m sure there are those cases where a question gets answered without having to speak up because, someone else had the same question.” 

The UniConcierge Customer Care Center is staffed by three customer relations professionals — Cyndi Bauman, Lee Ann Schuble, and Theresa Carter — who can help provide referrals to local distributors of Unico equipment, navigate HVAC techs to the various training programs offered by the manufacturer, on-board HVAC professionals to the Unico Preferred Contractor program, and update the contractor’s information on Unico’s dealer locator.