During a recent visit to Boston, Rodenhiser asked The NEWS to stop and visit with Landry, who he thinks is one of the brightest young stars on the HVACR horizon.
“Ray has been with me for seven years,” Rodenhiser said. “He started working for me right out of high school.” In fact, Landry, 24, worked as a co-op student at Rodenhiser’s while he was still in high school. Landry originally went to school to learn the plumbing trade, but has since expanded his training to include HVAC, radiant heating, and snowmelt, to mention a few disciplines.
Part of his training also includes developing leadership and communication skills. “Ray was shy when he came to work for me,” said Rodenhiser. “He wouldn’t even look anyone in the eye. Now he has really come out of his shell.”
STICKING TO A CAREER PATHOne of the reasons Landry chose Rodenhiser was because he knew he had the opportunity to pursue a number of different skill sets while he advanced on a solid career path. “Ray has a certain skill set that we like to utilize,” said Rodenhiser. “For example, he is writing proposals involving pricing on boilers, which can get pretty technical. But we give him the latitude based on his experience.
“Ray is not going to get bored here because we are not going to pigeonhole him.”
Based on his experiences, Landry tries to spread the word about a career in HVAC to others, too. “I try to encourage new hires to stay on staff,” he said. “I talked one guy into staying based on what I said about my own personal experience. It seems like everyone who comes to work here stays here. It is a big deal to enjoy what you do and to have a future.
“But a lot of other kids just see dollar signs as soon as they get out of high school.”
Rodenhiser blames the lack of enthusiasm for the HVAC trade on poor marketing by the local vocational schools and even poorer cooperation from high school counselors. “Counselors are short-changing kids because they are sending them into careers that are not going to make them happy,” he said. “Employers are responsible for spreading the word, too.”
Landry said he didn’t know anything about HVAC before he went to work at Rodenhiser’s. “If kids got our trade into their heads at age 14 they would eventually choose HVAC,” Landry added. “I couldn’t have imagined seven years ago that this is where I would be. I blame that on not being informed. There are probably a lot of people out there like me who should be in this field but aren’t.”
If young people had the encouragement from people like Landry and the support from contractors like Rodenhiser, there might not be a shortage of good, enthusiastic service techs. “We literally have a five-step chart showing new hires where they can go in our company,” said Rodenhiser. “We invest in people and turn people into leaders.”
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