As a local leader in residential and commercial plumbing and HVAC service, CPI Plumbing & Heating is a trusted provider of high quality repair, installation and maintenance services.
They serve clients in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and North Snohomish counties, and now they provide another service to bolster the quality of their business and industry: an apprenticeship program.
The 12-month program provides accepted apprentices with paid, beneficial, full-time employment with CPI as they learn the ins and outs of plumbing and HVAC, eventually being able to test and obtain their state residential specialty plumbing license. from Washington.
Monica Craig, Marketing Manager for CPI, explains that the idea for the program started in 2019, when Brad Tully and Oly Olsen became owners of the company. Tully considered building a training center, which would complement the additional investments in in-company training.
By the end of 2019, those ideas had come true, with a fully developed training program and in-house training facility in their Mount Vernon warehouse. The learning is led by Steve Murray, director of the HVAC department at CPI. He has 37 years of industry experience, has been a Certified Journeyman Plumber for over 30 years, a Certified Professional Instructor for over 20 years, and Specialist Electrician and 06A Certified Electrical Administrator for over 20 years.
Murray is also a member of the CITC Mechanical Trades Apprenticeship Council, is a CEU instructor for online and live courses, and has developed over two dozen courses for Washington State as well as Oregon, Florida and many more. States.
Craig says creating an in-house training program is especially important at a time when many trades need quality technicians.
“For our profession, there is about one person arriving for every four who retire,” she says. “Our ability to provide work and grow as a business is really difficult if you don’t have people interested in your profession. “
Nuts and bolts
The inaugural class of the new apprenticeship kicked off in October, with four students on a plumbing track. A second plumbing course will begin in January, with open registrations ending just before Christmas. A CVC-focused training session is scheduled for mid-2021, and there is no limit to the number of classes.
Anyone who is mechanically inclined and keen to learn more about plumbing or HVAC is encouraged to apply, says Craig. The aim is to train new technicians from scratch, which is why the program even addresses basic skills, such as the proper use of hand tools. This can be particularly important for apprentices who are coming straight out of high school or lacking previous experience.
All the knowledge that an apprentice will need to eventually obtain their state license for residential plumbing will be covered in the training. Washington State requires 6,000 hours of experience to obtain the license, capped at 2,000 hours per year. At the end of the training, the apprentice will move on to the next steps in their career and strive to have their own work truck.
The first eight weeks of training involves learning a lot from Murray and continues thereafter with supervision from technicians and driving observations. Overall, the program is a combination of written quizzes and homework, as well as plenty of practical assessments at CPI’s training lab. Craig says they have used as much virtual training as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but hope to resume maximizing in-person training as soon as it is authorized in 2021.
The training lab is fully hooked up and configured to handle a wide range of situations that a technician may face, including worst-case scenarios. This type of preparation ensures that technicians are properly prepared for anything they may encounter in the field.
Most of the things our apprentices would see in the real world, we can create them in our training lab and then ask them to solve them, ”says Craig.
Throughout each week of their learning, voluntary training on weekday mornings is also offered to anyone wishing additional reinforcement and learning. Craig says the company has high expectations of their apprentices, which is clearly reflected in the level of work they already provide to their clients.
In a world where quality, well-paying jobs with great scope for professional and personal growth can be hard to come by, a CPI apprenticeship program could be a person’s first step towards a great career and life.
“You learn and you get paid to build your career,” says Craig. “There aren’t a lot of industries that offer this. “
Interested in applying for the CPI apprenticeship program? Please visit their website at www.cpiplombing.com/careers to learn more.