Recent events have left a lot of people looking for a new job, some of whom can help ease the labor shortage faced by HVAC contractors across the country. Perfect Technician Academy (PTA), an HVAC technician training school based in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, recently announced a push to attract displaced oil field workers to its school.
The oil industry faces massive downsizing at the price of crude collapses. Some of largest players in the shale oil business have declared bankruptcy and even traditional producers are struggling. PTA is located in Texas but draws students all over the nation, attracting them from as far away as Alaska and North Dakota.
"Many similarities exist between the oil and HVAC industries,” said Brett Hobson, owner of Perfect Technician Academy. “That's largely why Perfect Technician Academy has garnered a variety of new students from oil-heavy states around the U.S. in recent months.”
Conner Gossel, PTA’s public relation’s coordinator, said the work ethic for oil workers is similar to the HVAC business. Gossel said both attract individuals whose minds are more geared toward more technical aspects. Many of the oil field workers are tired of the boom-and-bust cycle of their old business.
PTA started focusing on helping veterans transition to civilian life through trade education. It’s a six-week program, so students can quickly get to work in their new field, Gossel said. It attracts a diverse student body looking to make a change. Gossel said PTA has been getting a number of police officers asking about the program
Instructors are former techs themselves. The program is very fast-paced and in-depth Gossel said. He said PTA has a more than 95 percent success rate in placing workers with firms from across the country.
“No matter where you want to call home, chances are we have the connections to help you do that,” Gossel said.
Troy Dassonville, president of A/C Contractors in Longview, Texas, is one of PTA’s employer partners. Dassonville had trouble finding technicians before partnering with the school. He would have about six technicians at a time and was constantly replacing them. They came from other HVAC firms where they had picked up bad habits. Now, Dassonville has twice as many technicians.
“We are looking for good people with good customer skills and basic mechanical skills,” he said.
Dassonville hired some of the oil field workers, as well as a few military veterans. One former oil field worker became his top producing technician within two months. He finds the graduates as knowledgeable as anyone they hired from a traditional program.
Dassonville starts the new techs on ridealongs before moving them to small jobs. In six months, they handle about 90 percent of the work. Dassonville grew up in the business, repairing air conditioners when he was still a teen.
“I learned most everything I learned on the job,” Troy said.
Gossel said PTA took advantage of the coronavirus shutdown to expand its operations. It can now accommodate 40 students in each HVAC class, twice the number as before. PTA was one of the first schools Texas gave the green light to reopen because it produces essential workers, Gossel said.
“We've been so busy training people to meet the demand for good HVAC technicians that we didn't have the time to do this kind of expansion,” said Brian Hobson, PTA’s lead instructor.