Finding Qualified Technicians is Easily the Single Biggest Challenge I've Faced in Operating a Small Business

What's the single biggest challenge I've faced in operating a company that specializes in Gas Piping, Air Duct Cleaning, and Ventilation?

Finding qualified technicians!

We’ve tried all the standard approaches for employment ads, with almost zero success. We’ve hired “Journeymen” several times, and all but one of those times has been a complete failure. The problem is, while there are thousands of “Heating” companies, none of those companies are a gas piping specialty company.

For example, a 6 fixture gas job will take most heating companies 2 days with 2 technicians on the job. Their vans are set up to not only do gas piping but also full heating installations, making it impossible to carry everything possibly needed for any gas pipe job. With our vans specifically set up for just gas piping, and our Tech’s trained specifically for just gas piping, we can do the same job in one day, most often in under 8 hours.

Journeymen from other companies don’t have the high level of specified training we require and have almost always struggled to make our job bid times.

We’ve been blessed with finding one fully trained & certified Tech, Eric Sayler, who can match my skill set. Hiring him was an amazing stroke of luck, as the chances of finding someone else with specific training has proved to be almost zero.

Our answer has been to train technicians “in-house”. The best candidates do have heating training, but preferably not more than 2 years so they have not developed “bad habits”. Each and every Tech we hire is hand trained by either Eric or myself, keeping our company up to date with fully trained specialty techs.

What this also means for Portland Gas Piping and Ventilation, is that we have considerably more time invested in each of our Technicians than most companies, so we do everything we can to provide a positive work environment. We go out of our way for little things that matter to our Tech’s. For example, one of our tech’s just bought a new pickup truck. I had my shop mechanic go thru his truck, and fix several small issues. The bill from my mechanic was $550, but well worth it to build the “Family” atmosphere we have developed at our company.

Make sure treating your employees right and providing the best quality work environment possible is at the very top of your priority list!

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Comment by Jeremiah Doty on March 24, 2018 at 11:17am

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