The Unfiltered Blog

July 25, 2016

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds visits Bell Brothers training facility

By Chuck Gassmann, CEO

It’s not every day you meet the lieutenant governor of Iowa to teach her about your company and how the government can help your industry. But that’s exactly what Bell Brothers had the chance to do recently.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds spent an afternoon at our office and training facility in Des Moines to learn about the Bell Brothers apprenticeship program, which began in September 2015. We currently have 22 employees enrolled in the program — with the end result of earning a journeyman license.

By developing our own in-house apprentice program, we can offer industry-leading training for our employees. It’s also a recruiting tool to show our commitment to having the most knowledgeable service technicians and installation specialists in Central Iowa. It was no small task creating the curriculum and meeting government regulations, but I know it will be well worth the time and financial investment. In just one year, our program has gained such respect that Lt. Gov. Reynolds visited us.

Bell Brothers — and other employers in skilled trade fields — are having increasing difficulty finding qualified employees. This was nothing new to Reynolds, who said that’s been echoed by business owners across Iowa.

As part of the Branstad administration’s goal to fill those jobs, they developed the “Future Ready Iowa” initiative to build Iowa’s talent pipeline to ensure a workforce ready for careers of today and tomorrow. The lieutenant governor told us it is designed to help educate school counselors and expose students to careers in skilled trades.

As we all know, a four-year university isn’t the right fit for every person. Some are more hands-on. Some don’t want to be riddled with college loan debt. Some want — or need — to earn money right away. An apprenticeship program could be the answer because it allows students to learn a profession while earning money and taking on zero (or little) debt, as employers typically pay for the program.

Many people don’t realize the HVAC industry ― and others like it ― requires highly skilled workers. HVAC equipment is not what it used to be; it’s become more sophisticated and is mostly computer-driven. It takes a lot of skill to be able to install, diagnose and repair a furnace or air conditioning unit. Our employees take pride in their work because they know it’s a job not just anyone can do.

We appreciate the support of the Branstad-Reynolds administration and the opportunity to discuss ways to improve our industry and build our workforce. We look forward to helping continue to create careers for Iowans well into the future.

Interested in our apprenticeship program? Excellent! Learn more here, or give us a call at 515-244-8911.