LAS VEGAS — In order to combat the growing labor shortage around the U.S. and to help promote awareness of skilled trades, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mister Sparky Electric, all part of the Direct Energy family of brands, recently announced a new partnership with television personality Mike Rowe, the creator and executive producer of CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” and Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.” The brands, which have committed to donating $100,000 in scholarships to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation over the course of 12 months, will work alongside Rowe to promote the skilled trades industry and empower future and potential trade professionals.

“We all recognize there’s a labor shortage in the U.S., and, particularly within our brands, our franchisees are finding it difficult to find qualified people,” said Mark Baker, franchise president for the three brands. “With his [Rowe’s] foundation and our national footprint, we thought it would be a good way to find people who could work in the trades and have a good job.”

In January, the brands started a scholarship program at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota, Florida, where the company is sponsoring a class of HVAC technicians and has guaranteed them a job offer when they graduate. In order to receive the scholarship, applicants had to meet requirements that included a background check, drug screening, motor vehicle records check, and pass an interview conducted by a staff member.

According to Baker, each student is being supplied with personal protective equipment, uniforms, and more than $1,000 worth of tools so they can hit the ground running when they graduate.

As a part of the partnership, Rowe will appear in more than 50,000 television commercials, radio ads, and in printed material alongside real technicians from each of the three brands in the coming weeks. As a longtime advocate of equipping Americans with technical and critical thinking skills, Rowe will also work with the companies to highlight the benefits of careers in the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC industries.

“We’re very fortunate Mike is going to be in our TV and radio commercials because he can bring this to the national stage, which certainly helps raise awareness,” Baker said. “We have 630 franchise territories in the U.S. — hundreds of franchise owners who all need good, skilled labor. What we’re trying to say with our partnership with Mike, and with our franchise owners, is we have a lot of jobs available.”

This year alone, Direct Energy Services needs to hire more than 2,000 people, Baker noted. “And, our franchisees can probably easily add another 1,000 on top of that. We’re just trying to make sure people are aware there are good jobs out there that can help you take care of your family and have a good living if you’re willing to be a skilled tradesman.”

Rowe founded the mikeroweWORKS Foundation in 2008 to promote hard work and support the skilled trades.

“The goal of mikeroweWORKS is pretty simple — help close the skills gap by encouraging men and women to get the training they need to pursue good jobs that actually exist,” Rowe said in a press release.

“One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mister Sparky are perfect partners because, collectively, they offer thousands of jobs waiting to be filled. And they know firsthand what a good job really is. I’m flattered for the chance to speak on their behalf and grateful for their generous donation to my foundation.”

For more information about this partnership visit, and

Information provided courtesy of Direct Energy Services. For more information, visit

Publication date: 6/1/2015

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