The NEWS’ Best Instructor and Trainer contest aims to shine a spotlight on the best teachers and advisors across the HVACR industry, and this year was no different as one of the industry’s true workhorses, Ed Brink, division manager, technical training, Meier Supply Co., was honored as the nation’s Best Trainer contest winner.
AN EARLY PASSION
Love and passion for the HVACR industry truly began early for Brink as he got started in the commercial segment of the industry while he was still a teenager.
“I was a problematic child in high school, but luckily I had an industry veteran take an interest in me,” Brink said. “He told me if I stayed out of trouble, he would teach me the trade.
“At 16 years old, I got started working on commercial buildings in downtown Binghamton, New York, doing refrigeration work,” continued Brink. “It’s because that guy took the opportunity to teach me the trades that I realized and decided I would want to give back to other folks in the industry.”
Brink eventually began working for a union contractor, where he began instructing and mentoring young apprentices.
“If someone hadn’t taken an interest in me at a young age, I would have certainly gone down a different pathway in life,” he said. “As a teacher, it’s my hope to pass on my information and give back to others.”
Brink eventually left the service industry and went to teach vocational school for four years while simultaneously going back to school himself to earn his certificate for vocational education. Now, as the technical trainer for Meier Supply Co., Brink has the opportunity to set up mobile training modules, primarily in the Northeast, where he gives detailed training demonstrations and presentations.
“He builds functioning hands-on training modules and interactive electronic presentations, operates a training trailer for live fire on-site training, and he’s factory authorized for several products,” said Daniel Fitzpatrick, HVAC division manager, Meier Supply Co. “Ed has developed Meier University’s curriculum for a wide range of highly effective training.”
In his current role, Brink has an obvious opportunity to keep in touch with guys who go on to work with Meier Supply Co., because they can call him for technical support and with any other issues that may present themselves.
Brink also stays in touch with a number of former students, even if they go on to work elsewhere.
“For the most part, you have a few kids every year you really connect with and follow,” said Brink. “I’ve helped some kids on to college and kept tabs on them. Once they get out of school, I continue to keep in contact with them. This winter, I had to have an air conditioning system put in my house, and I hired the company that employs four of my former students. One of my former students actually did the work on my house, which was really unique and great.”
AHEAD OF THE GAME
The work has changed and evolved plenty since Brink started his efforts as a trainer, and he believes one of the biggest adjustments he has had to make over the years is getting more comfortable with technology and adapting to its ever-changing nature while also ensuring students understand the process behind everything they do in the classroom or lab.
“Most contractors need to touch and feel things to work most effectively,” said Brink. “Because of the limitations of equipment and lab sizing, I have developed more toward the process. I’m a firm believer that if you understand the process of troubleshooting, and you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, then the hands-on stuff is the easy part. I always tell guys that I could train you how to just replace parts, but I would rather take the time to have you understand what a part does, why it fails, and the science behind it.”
Fitzpatrick added that Brink is a passionate and innovative instructor who utilizes a combination of classroom and hands-on training, which helps each participant maximize his or her knowledge.
One way Brink attempts to maximize that knowledge is through his presentations. One similarity that can be found between Brink and The NEWS’ Best Trainer runner-up, Rick Downie (more on Page 14), is both individuals look to make seemingly static and mundane presentations as engaging and interactive as possible.
“My presentations have developed to a more visual and interactive standpoint because that form of instruction helps students understand things better than just a data dump of information,” said Brink. “At the end of the day, if you don’t have the theory and the process of how things work, then hands-on training just won’t be as productive. If a guy doesn’t know what he is doing, it is really difficult to succeed. It’s OK to make a mistake on a unit — mistakes happen to everyone — but it’s all about limiting those where ever possible.”
Publication date: 9/18/2017