Last month, the US Boiler Report covered Dustin Ebersole’s concept of hiring green employees and training them to become the technicians he needs to grow his company. Ebersole owns High Efficiency Solutions, a small mechanical company, and he believes that green hires, as opposed to hiring trained and experienced techs, might be the key to building a loyal workforce that shares his values.
>> Click here to read Hiring Green: Part 1
This month, we’ll cover this concept from the employee’s perspective.
Ryan McKee is the company’s latest hire. He’s 18 and just graduated high school in the spring of 2018. He’s held jobs since he was 15, starting as a groundskeeper at a local campground, and later as a car driver at a large auto auction.
“I knew that I didn’t want to go to college after graduating, at least not immediately,” said McKee. “I wouldn’t mind having the college experience, but really dislike school and couldn’t imagine jumping into a four-year degree. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but knew I needed to try something that had good potential as a future career. The trades were an obvious choice, but again, I still didn’t know which trade.”
McKee’s father is a welder, and his older brother is a pipefitter. They both urged him to try something new, even if it was temporary. “The trades are hard work, they told me, but the pay is good,” he said. “Co-workers at my previous job all said that I was making a good move by trying a job in HVAC.”
McKee’s neighbor knew that High Efficiency Solutions was hiring, and set him up with an interview. By mid-summer, McKee was working for Ebersole full time, and enjoying it.
Above: Ryan McKee, a green hire by Dustin Ebersole, owner of High Efficiency Solutions.
“When I interviewed with Dustin, I could tell right away that he was respectful, hardworking and very knowledgeable. Those three things gave me the confidence to start the job. I don’t know if I’d have made the leap if I’d gotten a bad vibe from him.”
McKee has learned a lot already. He now knows that he hates working around insulation in hot weather, but he enjoys the kind of challenge that mechanical work provides.
“I like having to figure things out; working with my head and my hands at the same time,” said McKee. “And it’s fun to work on different jobs and meet new people all the time. I’m not always stuck in the same place. There’s variety. Monday I was in a church, yesterday in a hotel, and today in two houses.”
Ebersole taught him to take his time and be certain that he’s doing things right. Better to do the work once, correctly, than have to do it twice. McKee has also been surprised by the amount of planning that goes into a mechanical system.
“Today we spent two hours talking with a jobsite supervisor about where we can run wiring and install ductwork,” said McKee. “Before you get into the trades, you never think about where the ductwork in a building is located. I guess it’s just an eye opener.”
But as much as McKee has to learn, he can offer some advice for contractors looking hire graduates.
“Instagram, YouTube and Indeed.com would be a good way to reach people like me. I use all three, but everyone is different. I’m not personally on Facebook, and I barely know what LinkedIn is. Also, speaking with high school guidance counselors and providing them with fliers would be a great way to reach young people. Forget about the newspaper, at least for guys my age.”
McKee says that his school pushed college or tech school enrollment, as opposed to going right into the workforce. He felt as though there was no “anti-trade” sentiment, but that more formal education was suggested before finding a job. Councilors need to be made aware that many companies are willing to train employees on the job.
“Don’t expect graduates to come to your office on their own, with applications in hand,” he said. “I wanted to try a trade, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t actively looking for a position. My current job kept me busy, and if I wouldn’t have been prompted by my neighbor, I’m not sure that anything would have changed. No doubt, if I’d have looked for a help wanted ad somewhere more traditional, I would have found plenty. There weren’t any ads on the social media I use. If you want to hire young people, you’ll need to use the platforms they use, and network in the community.”
Things that attracted McKee to the mechanical trade were a good starting wage, the fact that no experience was needed, potential for growth, and solid hours. He said that knowing he will get 40 or 50 hours a week, not less, was important.
“I definitely think I could make a career of this, but it’s just too early to tell for certain,” he said. “I’m enjoying it, and I’m glad that Dustin was willing to hire someone green. I just want to learn, and that’s what I’m doing.”