September 27, 2012
The International Training Institute (ITI), Alexandria, Va., the education arm of the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, offered a service manager course for the first time in June at the Local 88 training center in Las Vegas.
Taught by Darrell Garrison, the five-day, 40-hour course, a pilot program derived from a mix of ITI's Business 101 course and Garrison’s personal experience as a service manager, covered everything from creating a business name to hiring personnel.
The course aims to give sheet metal workers the knowledge and skills needed to create their own service department, vie for promotion to service manager, or start their own service business. It familiarizes them with certifications, day-to-day activities, writing purchase orders, and creating documents and spreadsheets.
In Las Vegas, unemployed journeymen accounted for half the class. With a 65 percent unemployment rate among journeymen at Local 88, the course gives out-of-work journeymen another tool they can use to progress in their careers.
"Some of the people have been out of work long enough to say, 'Why not? I can hang my own sign,'" Garrison said. With less than 2 percent of the residential service companies in Las Vegas hiring union workers, a shop owned by a sheet metal worker only means good things for peers who are unemployed.
"The whole idea of creating sheet metal service managers is they are going to hire sheet metal workers as their technicians," Garrison said. "That puts more unemployed members back to work in an area of the business that greatly needs good people."
Training centers interested in the service manager course can contact their local training coordinator. At least six members in good standing must be signed up for the course for it to take place in that location.
The ITI is sponsored jointly by Sheet Metal Workers' International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA).