CARROLL, OH — You’ll pardon Dick Lane if he brags about his family a little. This runner-up inThe News’Instructor of the Year contest has six sons, four of whom are actively involved in the HVACR industry. Lane, the HVACR instructor at the Fairfield Career Center of the Eastland Vocational School District, Carroll, OH, is proud of all of his sons’ careers and happy to contribute to the industry through his teaching.

One of his students, Susan Mariotti-Smith, will attest to that. “Anyone can be a teacher, but not everyone can teach,” she said. “I believe Mr. Lane has found his true calling in life — teaching future HVACR employees.”

Dick Lane follows up with graduates of his program to ensure that his training prepares students to succeed in the trade.


Lane had “absolutely no knowledge” of the HVACR trade after coming out of the U.S. Navy over 30 years ago.

“Someone gave me the opportunity to learn the business and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” he said.

That opportunity came when Lane took a course in heat pump technology through local utility Ohio Power in 1966. He stayed with the industry, working for local contractors and then running his own business for 18 years.

“I got the opportunity to teach some evening classes six years ago, and when the full-time instructor moved on, I was offered the job,” he said.

“After working so many years in the field, I enjoy sharing the information with students,” Lane said. “I find that the biggest challenge is finding enough information to give to the students who want to learn.”

Lane said that his students have the skills and education to enter the job market right away. That’s good, because many area contractors are lining up for his students’ services.

“Service techs are becoming more specialized and more in demand,” he said. “The challenge is to meet those demands, get the students trained, and get them out into the field. Within a few weeks or months, my kids are on trucks doing their own service calls. I’m very proud of that.

“Companies wait for students to come out of our door because they know there is very little additional training they need.”

At least in this Columbus-area community, the word is out. “We are getting a lot of people who want to take this class,” Lane said.

Credentials Lane’s students can expect to receive include a hot water/boiler certificate, a steam boiler certificate, an oil burner certificate, EPA-608 certification, and the ICE exam.

Lane’s class is 40% theory and 60% hands-on training. Students build, troubleshoot, and do maintenance on actual systems in the classroom, making use of donated equipment. They also perform electrical troubleshooting to familiarize themselves with wiring diagrams. They are also involved in “job shadowing” with local businesses.

Lane has implemented one major change in the class structure — the timing.

“In the past, no classes were scheduled in the summer months,” he said. “With the approval of the school board, I started a full-time HVACR program to begin July 10. Students will graduate April 15, three months earlier than normal, and the next class will start at the end of April, allowing us to graduate three classes in two years.”


“The best thing is the fact that the HVACR business never stays the same,” he said. “It continuously changes. The technology, the products, and the markets are always changing. The old thermocouple man with a pipe wrench is a thing of the past.

“Our trade is not boring or redundant one bit. I pass that on to the students and they realize that.”

Lane follows up with each student for at least a year after graduation.

“We do this to see if they are still in the industry, what their wages are, and if they have been required to go through additional training — training we could use to improve our course,” Lane said.

“I get a lot students who come in and out of here every week, showing off their service vans and the number of job tickets they have. They love to talk to the class.”

Lane is also very grateful to be given the latitude to teach his way. “Eastland Fairfield has given me the opportunity to make this a creative and up-to-date course. The people here want this course to succeed and I couldn’t have done any of this without their help.

“You cannot be an instructor with the idea of getting fame and riches from it. You have to enjoy teaching folks, and this comes very natural and very easy for me. Teaching HVACR to adults is a piece of cake.”

Asked about his future plans, Lane said, “I plan on being here until they run my butt off.”

Publication date: 09/09/2002