Highlighting Our Plumbers for National Apprenticeship Week
November 14, 2022
Plumbers may not always be in the spotlight, but they are at Rheem. This week is National Apprenticeship Week, so we are sharing stories from our Plumber Support Team. These plumbers are currently on our team helping other plumbers in their region grow their businesses. Mentors can impact the career and lives of their apprentices and clearly there are stories to be told.
I have been in the industry since 1984 (13 years old) when I started working in the HVAC warehouse for my dad: cleaning the warehouse, driving the folk lift, pulling orders and working with sheet metal. After I graduated high school, I joined the US Navy. When my enlistment was over, I rushed back to Denver and immediately started working in a local hospital. During my internship at the hospital, I realized that this was not for me, and that I preferred working in the trades.
I found a small family contractor that specialized in hydronics/boilers, and I started my plumbing apprenticeship (1992) which lasted three years before I had enough hours (3,400 hours) to test for my Journeyman’s license. I stayed with him for nine years. During this time, I attended many classes on code compliance and equipment install and service which helped me prepare for the Colorado Master Plumber test. My apprenticeship had a lot of hands-on experience (1,250 hours of code). This is where my love for the mechanical side of plumbing emerged.
As a licensed plumber, I gained confidence in myself and the equipment to the point I started my own business and enjoyed helping others. Today, I get the opportunity to work across the nation helping other contractors succeed. I have been a loyal Rheem commercial contractor since 1996.
See Brad’s Q & A
I was fortunate to have worked with, and for, some very good plumbers. I had a mix of new construction, service and repair and light commercial experience. Learning different aspects of plumbing gave me the confidence to venture out on my own. What I learned as an apprentice has stayed with me through all of my career, so much so that I became a teacher to give back to new plumbers just starting out.
See Joe’s Q & A
I had two mentors. One was my hometown plumbing inspector. In my eyes, he is the smartest plumber on earth. EVERY single time he came on a job site he would find something to pick on or correct with my work or approach. It was very frustrating but made me acutely aware to the details of my work and the importance of my role in the “circle of construction life.”
The second was my one and only boss prior to coming to work for Rheem. He taught me from registered apprentice to Journeyman plumber. He was firm but fair and set very high expectations. He taught me by example how to be disciplined, responsible, accountable and fair. I eventually went on to run a successful business for almost 30 years and owe my core principles and the start of my career to him.
I am a firm believer in giving respect in order to gain respect. It doesn’t always work but that is the foundation for all of my relationships. I did have a couple of apprentices and office assistants that I mentored very similar to the way I was mentored. I am willing to put the time in to help those around me succeed because I try to surround myself with people I respect.
See Mark’s Q & A
I started plumbing in October of 1993. To say I started off as an apprentice would be false. I was fresh out of the Army and extremely fit. I was used more as a laborer in the beginning. I could dig and cut and thread pipe faster than most. I would literally run to and from the work van to retrieve the tools and materials needed for the job.
I became a true apprentice about 1½ years into the trade. Looking back, I’m sure I’m the reason for many of my mentor’s now gray hairs. What I lacked in knowledge, I made up for in effort. I didn’t always learn the first time, so there were many things that I had to be shown more than once. My plumber mentor was very patient with me, which helped me when it came time for me to mentor others.
I have had several apprentices through the years. I asked for honesty and for them to apply themselves. If they weren’t doing something themselves, they needed to be watching what I do. In time, they’d be able to anticipate my needs and hand me things before I’d ask for them. I learned that most people that think they learn from “hands on” actually learn by seeing and watching. When you can visualize what you’re trying to do, your hands follow.
I have a lot of respect and appreciation for those who have mentored me through the years. Had it not been for them, I wouldn’t have become the plumber that I am. To this day, I am still close to many of the apprentices that I’ve had. I know that I did my part in them becoming plumbers.
I was taught “learn to do it right, and the speed will follow.” I shared this knowledge with every apprentice I ever had. In addition, my approach has always been to treat people with empathy and kindness while delivering the best quality and service possible.
See Tom’s Q & A
How to Contact the Plumber Support Team
Rheem’s Plumber Support Managers are located throughout the country and are here to educate plumbers on Rheem’s products and programs and to help them grow their water heater businesses. If you’d like to be introduced to the Plumber Support Manager in your region, please call 1-866-339-2388.
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