The Unfiltered Blog

September 14, 2015

New in-house Bell Brothers Apprenticeship Training Program offers unrivaled training

By Chuck Gassmann, CEO

HVAC apprentices standing in parking lotAccountant, doctor, teacher — many careers require years of education and training. You may not know that HVAC service technicians and installation specialists make that list, as well. Bell Brothers is committed to having the best-trained technicians. While we feel we’ve already been doing this, there’s always room for improvement.

I’m excited to announce the new Bell Brothers Apprenticeship Training Program will begin this September. The in-house program provides an enhanced education for our service technicians and installation specialists, which in turn provides an even better customer experience for you.

What is an HVAC apprenticeship program?
An apprenticeship program provides specialized education for those working in a skilled trade (e.g., electricians, plumbers, etc.). It requires four years of training — 144 hours per year in the classroom and 2,000 hours per year on the job. Once completed, an apprentice takes the journeyman test, which once passed, grants them a journeyman license in the State of Iowa. After five years, a journeyman can take the masters test. A master is the highest level of achievement.

Why do HVAC professionals enroll in an apprenticeship program?
Nearly 10 years ago, the State of Iowa began requiring HVAC professionals to be licensed through an apprenticeship program. We have been meeting this obligation by having our employees attend a program accredited by the Department of Labor (DOL). Our current 11 employees enrolled in that program will transfer into the Bell Brothers Apprenticeship Training Program, which is also accredited by the DOL. We have a freshman class of 11 new apprentices — for a total of 22 apprentices enrolled for our inaugural season.

Why did Bell Brothers develop its own apprenticeship program?
Bell Brothers has been leading the industry for the past 60 years. We were the first to utilize iPads in the field and the first to develop an HVAC app for smartphones. All of our service technicians and installation specialists are SAVE-certified, and Bell Brothers just became the first HVAC contractor in Des Moines to be named a MidAmerican EnergyAdvantage® Trade Ally Partner. Developing our own apprenticeship program is another way we can provide industry-leading service and support to our customers.

There are four benefits of training our employees in our facility:

  1. We can match the apprentice’s training with their work. We have a full training lab with the equipment they actually service and install as a Bell Brothers employee.
  2. We only have masters teaching our courses — not all programs can say this.
  3. We offer a smaller class of eight to 10 apprentices per level compared to 20 to 30 — allowing more specialized attention to each apprentice.
  4. We have set our standards higher than those set by the Department of Labor. For example, we require an average of 156 hours per year of classroom time versus the 144 required by the DOL. Plus, our program has a more stringent policy on turning in on-the-job training hours reports and being tardy.

What does this apprenticeship program mean to Bell Brothers customers?
Other HVAC companies have already asked if they can enroll their employees with us. I think that is a testament to how good our program is and the value of our training. This program helps us attract the very best young people who can work and earn a living while going to school. Customers can know their home’s HVAC needs are being taken care of by the best-trained service technicians and installation specialists.

If you happen to be in the job market and the Heating and Air Conditioning Apprenticeship Training Program peaks your interest, please check out the Careers page on our website.