Trainer Balances Humor with Knowledge
Rick Streacker Uses Industry Experience, Sense of Humor to Train at Packard Inc.
Every day is Rick Streacker’s birthday. Or, at least, that’s what his coworkers at Packard Inc. say.
“One of the ongoing jokes we have as a company with Rick is that everywhere he goes, we celebrate his birthday,” said Dan Lauterhahn, vice president of sales at Packard Inc. “Any event, any dinner, wherever we are, it’s always Rick Streacker’s birthday. He may be about 310 years old right now, we’re not sure.”
But Streacker, who is the national training coordinator for Packard Inc., also knows when to be serious, and his vast knowledge of a variety of HVACR technologies have earned him a reputation as an excellent trainer for students at any skill level. It’s Streacker’s sense of humor coupled with his knowledge and dedication to the job that make him The NEWS’ 2014 Best Trainer runner-up.
Like many HVACR professionals, Streacker is not the first person in his family to work in the industry.
“My dad was in refrigeration his whole life, so I was around it, too,” he said. “He would take me on calls during the summer months. I always felt like my dad could fix anything.”
After high school, Streacker began working with motors when he got a job cleaning electrical and motor parts for a local business owner. “He hired me to clean parts, then he showed me how to make mechanical repairs and how to repair motors.”
From there, Streacker got a job with what was then A.O. Smith in the Dayton, Ohio, area. “They helped me get a master’s degree,” he said.
Now, Streacker says he is often struck by how much his trainees at Packard remind him of both his younger self and, occasionally, his father. “I enjoy being able to work with guys who may just be getting started and don’t have a high skill set, and something clicks with them and now they understand it,” he said. “When I see some of these guys in class, they remind me of my dad because they can fix anything and make anything work — it’s come full circle.”
A Funny Guy
Streacker, who helped create Packard Academy more than two years ago, said he is simply happy to be working with a company that places great importance on training. But his coworkers say they are the lucky ones to have Streacker, who is known throughout the company for his wonderful sense of humor.
“He’s a very funny guy, which helps make him an excellent trainer,” Lauterhahn said. “He knows how to keep people’s attention for hours and even days in a row. There are not a whole lot of people like that in the industry. We’re lucky to have him.”
Kelly Goldsmith, general manager at Packard, agreed that Streacker’s sense of humor, in addition to his exceptional HVACR knowledge, helps him stand out at Packard. And, she added, he is one of her favorite team members to work with.
“He’s passionate about what he does, energetic, and such an encourager to employees, coworkers, and customers,” she said. “He’s just all around a very positive guy, which makes him a pleasure to work with. You don’t have an interaction with Rick without laughing.”
Streacker said he’s just thankful to work for a company that places great value on training and education.
“Packard’s very supportive of our efforts to train,” he said. “It’s a team effort. It really takes everybody here to provide me with what I need to do these classes. There are a lot of people involved in it.”
Teaching at All Levels
In the past couple of years, Streacker has developed and expanded the training program at Packard, helping to create Packard Academy, which offers online training and videos on a variety of HVACR-related topics.
“The training program that Rick developed has sort of stolen the show,” Lauterhahn said, adding that Streacker’s vast knowledge of the industry and his ability to teach at all levels has made him an invaluable member of the team. “He can cater to all audiences, which makes him unique.”
“Rick is very, very smart. People who are smart like him have a hard time breaking things down,” said Goldsmith, who has a background in education. “But he does a fantastic job explaining the topic so you can understand what he’s saying, and he doesn’t make you feel silly or not as well-informed. He makes you completely understand it. Whatever level you may be on, he does a great job customizing how much or how little detail is needed.”
“I think my experience helps,” Streacker said. “I try to focus on what the group needs to get out of the training.”
As for what the future may hold for Streacker, he said he plans to continue on his Packard path.
“I’m not thinking of retirement at this point,” he said. “I’m looking at being able to grow [Packard Academy], improve upon it, offer new content, and take it to different levels. I want it to be a full package for our customers. Not only do we do the face-to-face training, but we do YouTube videos and individualized training for our customers based on what their needs are. I want to do more and more of that and provide an excellent finished product that is complete and to the point for our customers and their customers.”
When asked how he feels about being selected as this year’s Best Trainer runner-up, Streacker said it’s “not something I expected or anticipated” and again thanked Packard for its role in providing training and education to HVACR professionals. “It’s nice to be recognized,” he said. “I can’t thank my company enough for having the real desire to make sure people in our field are being exposed to the training. Our company really feels it’s important to do this, and I’m glad to be with a company that recognizes that.”
Publication date: 11/24/2014