Product Trainers at Rheem: Frank Sloan
August 9, 2023
Meet Frank Sloan, a dedicated employee at Rheem® who is truly passionate about his work. With a unique dual role as a technical trainer and content developer, Frank brings a wealth of valuable experience to the table. Having spent nearly two decades in the plumbing industry, specializing in water heaters and hydronic boilers, Frank is a true expert in his field. Before joining Rheem, he served as an HVAC instructor, developing his teaching skills. Now, Frank is excited to apply his gift of teaching to Rheem, where he is committed to educating and guiding both present and future plumbers.
Achieving the Lightbulb Moment
For Frank, the fruits of the trades are endless. He sees his students’ journey firsthand, going from not knowing to being champions of the products and technologies he teaches them. Read on to see how he does it.
Came for the Job, Stayed for the Fulfillment
Q: Why did you get into plumbing?
A: By accident, really. I was working a shift in a gas station at the ripe age of 18. I grabbed a newspaper and saw a position for an apprentice in HVAC/R and Hydronics with no experience necessary. I had no idea what it was, but it was better than what I was doing. I never looked back.
Q: What do you like most about being a tradesman?
A: Being in the trades has allowed me to learn new things, teach new things and provide comfort for customers. I have been able to work many years in the trade and then transition into education for young people desiring a trade of their own. I feel blessed to be able to do everything I have been able to do for myself and my family because I learned a trade.
Q: What is your favorite memory of a time you helped your customers?
A: My favorite memory of helping my customers was helping those who had hardships and could not afford to replace a furnace, boiler or a water heater. I would offer them a solution such as a scratch and dent unit, a used unit I came across for free or being able to fix something that others said was unfixable.
Q: What do you like most about being a trainer and content developer at Rheem?
A: Teaching is in my blood, and creating the content that allows a student to understand what I am teaching is the key. Education is about taking complex ideas and making them simple. I love the moment when a student does not understand how something works and while I am teaching, a lightbulb goes off. Understanding that everyone learns differently is key to providing the right type of class. Being able to adjust my teaching style to fit their learning style has been most beneficial.
Q: What is your proudest moment as a trainer or content developer?
A: My proudest moment comes when a training is complete and you are able to change the hearts and minds of stubborn students who resist new technology or new ideas. When they say thank you and that they will try a product or a best practice, I feel like I did my job and helped them at the same time.
Q: What course is your favorite to teach?
A: My favorite courses to teach are on heat pump water heaters, tankless electric water heaters and hydronics. Heat pump water heaters are challenging because a lot of plumbers do not understand them, and the same goes for tankless electric. There is a fear factor associated with these technologies or common misconceptions. I have found if you help people understand them, the fear or general dislike of the products changes. Getting a student to see the benefits of a product and how it can help them grow a business is very rewarding.
Q: Tell us about a time that a plumber had an ‘aha’ moment in your class.
A: I was teaching a tankless electric class and someone had something negative to counter everything I said. We agreed to disagree at the time. After that encounter, I reevaluated the way I taught the product and changed my presentation using every negative given and turning it into a positive. Fast forward six months, and this same person was in my new presentation. The lightbulb went off and he got it. He is now a big advocate for the product.
Q: One more thing…
A: Do not forget to reach out to the next generation in the tech schools and apprentice unions. These people are the future of the trades and we want to leave it in better condition than when we started our journey.
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