AirCom – A Heating and Air Conditioning Success Story
Servicing the heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning needs of the business and industrial community is a demanding four-season, twenty-four hour business. In recent years, the equipment and the technology needed have become increasingly sophisticated, and reliable, skilled workers hard to find. Many companies experience difficulty competing.
Sam Faulkner, the Office Manager for AirCom, an HVAC firm located in Brampton, has helped his company face and overcome a number of these challenges.
A major career change three and a half years ago brought Sam to 5-employee AirCom from gigantic Manulife Financial. No regrets here, as he considers himself lucky to have had the opportunity to work along side of longtime heating and air conditioning veteran and AirCom President Wilfred Macaulay (45 years in the business) and help to transform the company into a progressive and growing commercial HVAC firm.
Training Apprentices: a Key to Success
One reason for AirCom's success has been its willingness to take on apprentices and train young technicians. The average age of the firm's current 12 employees has gone from 39 to 29 over the last few years. Sam and Wilf are convinced that choosing young workers with good work habits and a willingness to learn help improve company efficiency and keep AirCom on the cutting edge of developments in the industry. Providing varied work assignments under the direction of journey-people with different areas of expertise has helped AirCom retain its apprentices and young workers. An employee profit sharing program has added further incentive. At the present time, two of AirCom's workers are registered apprentices, and more are likely to follow in the future.
Finding the right kind of person to begin an apprenticeship can be a challenge according to Sam. "Some applicants have little or no technical background or skills; others are old school mechanics unwilling to learn about new technologies and new techniques. We get lots of resumes from jobseekers that just aren't the right fit here."
When AirCom needed a new apprentice last fall, it turned to www.apprenticesearch.com, a website designed to bring employers and jobseekers together online. Initiated by the Halton Industry Education Council in Burlington, this site has assisted employers in a wide variety of skilled trades over the last seven years.
Sam posted a position on apprenticesearch, and was delighted to find someone who was a good fit. "I appreciated the personalized attention and the free service. It took a little while, but getting the right person made it worth the wait."
AirCom continues to grow and is in the fortunate position of not having to lay off any of its workers, regardless of the season. With a customer base that has included such recognized institutions as The Region of Peel, Baskin & Robbins and The Holiday Inn, as well as many smaller businesses in the GTA, the workload has the potential to remain steady.
There are challenges in the HVAC world, to be sure. New government regulations, safety concerns, journeyman-apprentice ratio requirements, demanding customers, competing firms – the list goes on. AirCom has tackled some of these challenges by insisting that all its workers stay up-to-date by taking at least two courses a year (partly at company expense). "Wilfred Macaulay is the perfect role model for our staff," states Sam, "After nearly 45 years in the business, he still takes courses every year, and keeps our in-house training manual up-to-date with industry standards."
In a competitive business world, AirCom knows the importance of the small details as well – all workers wear company uniforms and thoroughly clean up worksites, even if someone else left the mess. They also wear clean cover shoes when working in offices or homes as an added courtesy to those that are "paying the bill".
Reflecting on the past few years, Sam Faulkner is glad he made the change to the world of heating and air conditioning. "I love what I do and I love the opportunity to help this company grow and become more successful. We look forward to the future."
Art Mayer Employer and Applicant Assistance www.apprenticesearch.com Halton Industry Education Council 5230 South Service Road Burlington, Ontario L7L 5K2 905-634-2575 (phone) ext. 26 905-634-2705 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org