Skilled Trades Interviews | with Ronnie Cochran | Skilled Trades Success Stories

Skilled Trades Interviews | with Ronnie Cochran | Skilled Trades Success Stories

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Today I get to sit down with Ronnie Cochran, who got started a little later in his career journey in Skilled Trades.

His career success started with his parents’ solid work ethic instilled in him.

His HVACR journey started with a casual conversation with a technician that came out to repair his AC, and well, the rest is history!

He, like most, started off learning the ropes. Ronnie’s infectious positive can-do attitude attracted the interest of some key mentors who helped him grow and learn.

Today, Ronnie works for one of the largest skilled trade providers globally (Johnson Controls / JCI) as a chiller instructor.

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Episode Transcript

So hey, Ronnie, I got you on the show, finally.

Hey, Martin. Good to be here. Thank you. Yeah.

So today I’m talking to Rodney Cochran. He is, I think, a success story. And part of my goal for this show is to get the word out about real people that have come up in the skilled trades. Ronnie and I are similar backgrounds, we were on the refrigeration side. And I just thought, you know, Ronnie had a really good, good story to tell. So Ronnie, welcome to the show.

Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Martin. I’ve been I’ve been following your podcast and your different different sites there. And you got some interesting content. So glad to be on. Awesome.

That’s great. It was great to have you on. Let’s see. So we always start the story off with a bio and when you when you send in your information for the show, I went through and and it was really inspiring to me, because you mentioned your your parents a lot, and how they influenced you. And I think that’s, that’s a great thing. Whenever I hear that, so anyway, let’s share your bio, how you how you came up in the trades, and, you know, sort of your, your journey into where you made it to in your career so far.

Yeah, so, um, you know, that could be a very, very long story. Um, but yeah, my parents dance here, you know, talk about that a little bit. They were a big part of influencing me. You know, in my bio, I mentioned some of the organizations that I’ve worked for, had the opportunity to work for Publix supermarkets for a number of years here in Florida, and some other organizations train and of course, Johnson Controls, and all of those organizations and a lot of people that that mentored me, definitely continued on with that spirit of just being honest, hardworking and trustworthy. So I actually, believe it or not, as you probably saw in the bio, I started my career in high school with Publix supermarkets. I moved into doing warehouse work. And, um, I kind of I kind of backtrack a little bit. My father, he was a carpenter. And that was that 80s 90s era where college was such a big thing, right? You had to go to college, you had to get that degree move into the business world. At least that was the influence around me at my time of life. Then in my early teens, and 20s. So I did the college college gig and made it about a year and a half and kind of decided that wasn’t for me, I continued working with with doing warehouse work with Publix. And I kind of woke up one day and I’m like, I don’t really see. And the direction I want to go here necessarily. So I kind of put my feelers out there and started looking for what interests me. So I looked at getting back into school, possibly taking some college classes getting into the business world. I looked at the medical field and several things. Funny story is I happen to be getting my air conditioner worked on for my vehicle. And the gentleman that I ran into, he did work for Publix as a refrigeration tech in house for them. He was doing the the side job for me, right fixing my air conditioner. And we just got to chit chat. Well, that led me to, you know, the old dial up, right? It was painful to get on the web and look for things. So I got on the web and, and checked out what the HVAC world was about and, and I soon discovered that there was no limit there. Right. So I knew that. I knew that I wanted more fulfillment. I knew that I wanted more opportunity. I did enjoy working with my hands growing up. We build airboats and we worked on motors and my dad he was in construction. So I kind of had that background already, but not professionally. I looked at the trade and it’s like, well, we have mechanical, we have electronic, electrical electronics, computer controls, we have sells construction, hydronic boilers, pneumatics. You know, the thermodynamic, the science, the math, the management, and it was just fully involved. And I got to looking at the money aspect. You know, that was kind of a big deal, right? We want to make money in our jobs. And the biggest thing for me was I needed something I could grow with. So I’ve kind of put my time into that. and got involved with the field. I started going to trade school. The funny thing with that was I started when I started going to a vo tech school. Here I am 31 years old. I got a family. I have two children. I have bills responsibilities. So I kind of had to manage that as well. So when I went to the VO tech school, you’ll never believe I ran into my my good friend, my classmate, Ray finder. He teaches at our local trade school here in Lakeland. And he was my instructor. Hmm, that was super cool that I ran into him. So I started taking night classes. And then I decided, well, I got to get hired into this. So I stopped by the few local places dropped off some applications. Um, and I picked a couple of them that I was really interested in, like, I really felt like I could fit into these groups. I stopped by there every single Friday and bug them right when you’re going to hire me kind of thing. One day, I come walking into door to United Refrigeration here in Urbandale, Florida. Mr. Gary Henderson was the owner of that company. He met me at the door that particular Friday and said we’re gonna hire you today. So that was kind of how I got started. Martin.

Isn’t that crazy? How your life actually the the major things in your life? You always it always begins at a crossroad. either. You have a situation that comes into your life, like like just something you know, like, in your case, running into an air conditioning guy just happened to talk to if that conversation didn’t happen? Where would you be today? Right? And and the same thing about you know, so you decided to go to vocational school and you just happen out of all the people. You happen to run into somebody who took interest in? Yeah. Isn’t that crazy? Yeah, that works out.

It was, you know, a lot of times I feel like it was it was destiny. You know, we may not find. Yeah, we may or may not believe in some of that. But everything that’s happened is is been number one because of my effort. And number two, because of the people that like you said they took an interest in me.

Yeah, yeah. So what are you doing now? Sure, I know what you’re doing. But why don’t you share with the audience out there? Which what? What a day in the life Iranians these days? What do you got going on now?

Oh, so I am a senior chiller instructor for Johnson Controls there. Currently, we have four instructors for North America. For the chiller group. Now we have foreign security, building automation. So we have a lot of other parts and pieces to our organization. Matter of fact, we had a big team meeting, I think we had like, I don’t know, 50 or 60 people on our meeting. So a lot of people in the training department that make that up, but our little group concentrates on our air cooled and centrifugal chiller line. Mm hmm. Oh, part of that process is customer that’s external customer classes. And then we have our internal customers, which are our own JCI employees. So we we support training for both of those aspects.

Okay. Yeah. And, you know, I thought something was really unique. I didn’t put it in your bio. But when you and I’ve been communicating back and forth, something that kind of caught my attention is that you kind of came into this job. kind of feeling a little overwhelmed. And it may be like a little bit of a stretch for you. I want to I want to highlight that a little bit. I don’t know if you remember putting that in a message to me, but tell me about that. Tell me about

that. Now you’re telling me.

Yeah, I want to know about it. Because you’re not alone that that because this is the kind of thing that a lot of people feel right, you’re not alone.

So I guess my aspect of that is and there’s a lot of pieces of that puzzle. But the biggest part of that is in this industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work with with giants here. I consider them some of the smartest people, um, you know, different different companies have different folks that work for them. Joe Patton, Ron Jacobs, Ron Ron, Ron Larson, I could go on and on with the names of, of these heroes, these people that they came up in the trade and the time when you were an apprentice, you really were an apprentice, like Did they put you with two or three journeyman, and you shadowed them? Every day at work? You went through the good training at school, and that’s kind of went away. But that was the biggest thing is number one. I didn’t go through a true apprenticeship. At that time in my life, I was at that crawl Rhodes. But to be frank with you, I had to make money, I didn’t have time to put into that five years. So that was the negative. So when I got into this position, I realized that there was a lot of those aspects I need to catch up on. And all these, you know, mentors that I’ve worked with over the years that have this vast knowledge and are extremely knowledgeable, I just felt like I didn’t have that level. And that’s where I should have been, as an instructor. Not that I didn’t have the qualifications, per se, to what the market says I need to have. But in my mind of where I wanted to be, was the biggest thing. So I did feel a little bit overwhelmed to your point. And I was concerned with that, like, how am I going to, how am I going to catch up, because I’m not the kind of person to be as anybody I’m going to be straight with. And honest, if I don’t know it, I’m going to tell you, and even today, we hit we get mechanics in class that in one subject or another, they just have a lot more experience than me. And I’m just honest. Get up and tell us about that, you know, if you were that mechanic, and you were talking about a particular item, and you knew more, we’re gonna let you talk in class. So my classes are kind of Yes, I lead the class for that training. But everybody has an opportunity to teach and share in the class. But that was one of my big holdups there,

you know, a man what that is, I call that grit. This is what I call that, you know, and I don’t know, I will, I know, I’m probably preaching to the choir here, Ronnie, but, you know, the fastest way to learn is to be a teacher. It really is. Yeah, because you’re you’re gonna, you know, you’ve obviously been elevated to be an instructor, because the people that the people that you work for, have seen these elements in you, right? That’s all that’s, that’s amazing that you’ve been able to do that. And, you know, I’ve been in that situation, many, many times where you just got to, you just kind of make it, you just have to make it happen. And as an instructor, what’s really cool is, you have an opportunity to expose yourself to people that are in the trenches every day. And statistically, if you just look at it, from a mathematical standpoint, they’re going to know, collectively, they’re going to have a lot more experience than just your world. Right? So they’re going to ask you questions, they’re gonna say, well, Ronnie, what happened here? You know, like, that’s a great question. I don’t know.

Yeah, you’re right, Martin, you know, my personal expectations, um, you know, putting the effort into it, the learning curve has has maybe trying to explain this. In two years, I’ve probably gained 15 years of learning, literally. And, and, and I was talking to one of my mentors today, on a team call, we’re trying to get new programs loaded in the optiview. simulator. But we were working on that and, and I told him, I’m like, you know, and we’ll probably get to this part. But he was definitely a main that one of the main catalysts for encouraging me to move here. And I told him, I said, Ron, I said, I can’t believe as I’m learning more and more how much I’m able to bring into my classes. And the knowledge that I’m able to share. And some of that knowledge is from students or technicians come into the class, and sharing that knowledge with me. Right, and, and, and to that point, a little sidebar there. I’ve gotten to where when I met, whenever somebody shares something really cool that I’m going to a tech tip, or whatever on the slide, such a weird experience that they came across. I put that note and I’ll put their name behind it, or my notes. So if I share that in class, I’ll say, hey, this was brought to you by Martin King. We had, you know, I want to give credit where credit’s due.

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, let’s do a little a little gear switch here. So I’m one of the things that I hear a lot about Ronnie is technicians, I’m speaking to technicians that are working in the field right now. So these guys, you know, they’re going they’ve gone through their apprenticeship or that whatever that means, you know, depends on Union non union, but they’ve been at it for a couple years. They’ve learned a lot of stuff. One of the things I’m hearing a lot about these days is because of the skills gap because there’s just not enough talent coming in versus you know, people retiring, right? These guys are overworked. They’re really overworked. And what’s what’s kind of happening is that there’s that natural plateau that they hit, you know, either it can happen Late in an apprenticeship or can happen a couple years in a journeyman, they there’s this kind of the, this is burnout factor that happens, right? So, I mean, are you hearing about that? I mean, is that? Is that something that maybe your some of your students are bringing up with you? Or that’s something you haven’t seen very much?

Um, yeah, I think I was kind of there a little bit with the particular niche that I was in, in our branch. Um, I was kind of burned out with the, you know, what I was doing, I was looking for something different. But that’s a little different conversation, I think what you’re talking about is this, you know, somebody’s beating the bushes every day, and they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mm hmm.

That’s what I was referring to. Yeah. It’s, it’s, we’re

having a lot of that in class. And I just encourage the guys to do exactly what you’re doing reach out to some of these younger people that they know in their personal lives, get the word out that the HVAC trade, the sky’s the limit, you know, you can do anything and you like math, we have math, you like science, we have science, you want to operate on the business side, we have that you want to be, you’re good at talking in front of people, we have a sales opportunity. So, um, that is kind of the biggest thing, but I’d really don’t have an answer for your question. If we’re talking about how to deal with that. That’s very difficult, but I am

yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s just something that I mainly just wanted to find out if you if you’re kind of seeing that too. Yes. So um, so let’s talk about, I have a program or something that I’ve been that I’ve been experimenting with. It’s called the HVAC or skilled trade success process. And what I’ve done is I’ve, I’ve tried to distill down the the elements of what makes the difference between somebody that kind of has a mediocre career in HVAC, versus somebody that’s really, you know, just knock it out of the park, like you. So I’m looking at four, four different areas. And I’m going to get your own as your feedback on these areas. So the for our technical excellence, which you’re living in, like, what items about technical excellence? Can the HVAC technician at large do to, to what mindsets what activities they can do to bolster their technical life, work ethic. So what type of work ethic is the difference between somebody that’s mediocre and somebody who does really, really well, and money management is another one. So once you start making real money, I hear a lot of problems with you know, people just getting out of control with their money, their their, their spending has a tendency to exceed their increasing money coming in. So I want to talk about that what your feelings are. And lastly, which I think is the biggest one is maintaining the work life balance. So let me ask you technical excellence. Let’s hit that one first. Because that one’s home run for you. What can the HVAC technician at large do to bolster their technical excellence? What kind of mindsets? What kind of activities should they be doing?

Well, the first thing is, and I don’t want to lead somebody the wrong way. But we want to be with an organization and around people that are constantly thinking best practices, whether it’s safety, whether it’s how we approach this machine, I’m getting in the mindset of no sciences, perfect, necessarily, right? It grows, we learn things new every day. I’m neither our engineers, but they work hard. And it’s a good idea to understand how they design the machine. So a big part of that is self study, applying yourself doing the work, you know, post, I spent hours and hours and hours studying manuals, reading things online, trying to improve my knowledge of the trade in general, or maybe a machine that I’m working on. So it’s just gaining a beyond beyond best practices, pick up the manual. You know, if you want to work without the manual, then you might as well with the work without your gauges or your meter. That’s a huge aspect. Read the manual, I get so many people in class, part of my homework is, especially for air cooled equipment, Read section two. It’s about 35 pages. It’ll take you about 20 or 30 minutes to read it. And it gives you a good general description of all the major components in the

machine. Section two, section two, what

just just the manual, the manual, okay, yeah, in the manual, just just read the general description of the components and, and they’ll give you a general idea. operation of how they work. Because everybody, refrigeration is refrigeration, it’s all it’s all going to absorb heat and reject heat at the end of the day. But how we’re getting from A to Z may be different from manufacturer to manufacturer. So we got to understand those processes within the machine. And the way to do that is read the book that the manual that two engineers wrote after the design of the machine.

So if I, you know, if I had to boil that down even more, I think what you’re getting at is sort of a mindset, right, like a curiosity mindset is what what I would distill that

to that I think that’s a good short answer. Absolutely. Yeah. And get your get your mind, right. You know, apply yourself, get into books, and work with folks in the industry that’s, you know, relatable to that particular piece of equipment you’re working.

Mm hmm. What’s the best way to develop like a mentor relationship? Like you did? Like, what is? What’s the secret sauce? Like, you know, you mentioned in your, in your comments, in your bio, you know, about you had these mentor mentors come into your life? How did that happen? I mean, some of it was his luck, obviously. But what, what are some tricks to maybe find or seek out mentors? How would somebody go about doing that?

Um, the first thing is be reliable, and be trustworthy. Those would be two key things, you know, show up with a with an attitude to work. Maybe, maybe you don’t want to carry all the refrigerant bottles up on the roof by yourself that day, you know, but yeah, and, and I wasn’t, I was a little older when I got into the trade. So it was, I had already excelled at one career path, and kind of made it to a mid level where I was, so it was a bit of humble pie for me, right, stepping back and doing those tasks that maybe an apprentice would would be doing, or, you know, somebody younger, in the field, even though I was only 10 years younger is still, from my experience in life, it was, it was a step back. So it’s a bit of humble pie there. Do those things that the, you know, your mentor is is needing for you to do may not even be asking you to do ask questions, get involved, not to the point where you’re distracting them, but to let them know you’re interested. Most of the time when you get involved at that level. And they see oh, hey, you know, we’re doing this procedure. I read over this last night, I got most of it down, can you show me these parts in these pieces to this particular job that we’re doing? Or even just having a phone conversation, hey, I’m doing this job, I read this, I don’t understand all of this. When they see that you’re applying yourself, I guess it’s the one word apply yourself. And that’s gonna go a long, long way with

Hey, guys, quick announcement, if you have not stopped into our website, at skill, trade rescue calm, please do that. On the homepage. Here, you will see that we have the Join the movement email list. If you haven’t signed up, please consider doing that we have some amazing guests lined up for the podcast, I’m going to be getting the stories out of successful technicians and business owners in skilled trades. These are not just HVAC people there’s going to people be from across the skilled trade spectrum. And my hope is that I’m going to be able to draw out of these people the things that have worked in their careers amazingly well. And the things that if they had a chance to talk to their younger self, what they would tell them not to do. So I want to share all that stuff with you. And if you sign up, you’re going to be the first to know when we drop those new podcast episodes. Also coming soon we have the BST workshop, it’s a five day automated email workshop. However, you’re going to give content to us through that workshop, you’re going to get one on one feedback from our structures, instructors, and we’re looking to better your career. I’ve been teaching the BST process for many, many years, about two decades one on one, and I’m going to be trying to do that to the masses through this workshop. It’s totally free. All you have to do sign up and as soon as you do that, you’ll get alerts on your email as soon as these new podcasts come in, as well as the BST workshop, so if you check it out, I will put a link to the website on the show notes for this episode today. So check it out. What you did right there. Ronnie’s you covered two things at once. You covered you covered that. Yeah, you cover technical excellence, right? And then you jumped seamlessly in my opinion over to work ethic. I mean, that mean that’s really he basically what I’m hearing you say is it has to do with the The Attitude. And and I, I’m 100% behind that if the attitudes, right? In my opinion, an attitude comes out of a solid work ethic is these people with knowledge? This is what I found out in the trades. It’s not everybody’s like this. But I’d seen the last decade or so. Even the old timers are no and you know, wow, there’s just not enough people interested in this trade. So I think there’s a, there’s an underlying current of people with knowledge, who, if they, if they’re seeking out people that have good work ethic, and know the want to share that information on how to make these people technically better, right.

Absolutely. That you know, and that kind of piggybacks on the beginning of our conversation is, you know, where was that built for me? That was from my upbringing. And then that was continued to be developed, you know, early in my career with some of the organizations that I work with, and being around these people. And I wasn’t always pleasant, I’m sure. When I was younger, and I’m sure that I probably did get an attitude sometimes. But the persistence of showing up every day, being respectful, having that work ethic, and then like you said, the other side, the technical side, applying myself in that. So when we did have those opportunities, people were were ready to, to deliver that and help me out.

What organizations do you recommend would be, you know, rich environments for the new technician to get involved in in order to show them their work ethic? Let’s say they have they have that work ethic already worked out? What What? What organizations? Would you recommend that these technicians join in order to expose themselves to people that would appreciate that work ethic and be willing to share knowledge?

Are you talking about as a as a as a job or career like, I want to work for this company?

Well, maybe, I guess, let’s say you have a, I’m trying to paint a scenario here. Because there’s a lot of these guys out there. Let’s say you got a technician that, you know, I’m speaking to somebody who’s working for a smaller company, medium sized company. And the only people they see all days is they see people once in a while on a supply house, which is less than less nowadays. Because you know, the contractor is not making a lot of money having a room the supply house, and they see their customers. What how could that how could that technician widen their their aperture, if you will, and be exposed to more people like you that can help mentor them? Like what’s what’s the best pathway, whether it be through a trade association with any ideas?

You know, you know, it comes to mind, definitely the vocational schools would be a strong Avenue, if you’re still in that stage of your career. Certainly, apprenticeship programs, you’re going to get exposure to technicians from a lot of different places. And you know, people talk, you know, it’s like, hey, this company is really great. We have a safety meeting once a month, they’re sending us to at least three trainings a year, I get to work on, you know, they let me go out and help on jobs. You know, the market is really kind of backing up. I’m gonna fumble around on this because I don’t really have an answer. That’s a difficult question. But you know, you’re going to find that companies need people to go put out the fire, right. And that’s what technicians find themselves in a lot of times. So when you’re involved in these different chat rooms, they get involved with a person like you, they build these. Now we have these social organizations over our computer, which is huge. You have HVAC talk, that’s a good organization. I don’t know how much they police, but the the technicians are pretty plain spoken there. You know. So just things that are social in nature, whether it’s training classes, you know, a training institution, apprenticeship vocational school, and it didn’t finding that company that fits you, people that are going to invest in you and spend that time with you. So you have those avenues. And believe it or not, not all companies are that way. I was very lucky with United Refrigeration, they went through the gamut when we did maintenance, you know, some cool superheat discharge, superheat mag, the motor, check our current draws, you know, all those things, check your cast, they had a good list of everything that you were supposed to do. Use your you know, check, check your air flows, you know, everything. So that gave me a great base as far as being a technician. And then I had that camaraderie every every Friday, we would meet every Friday, we’d get there 30 minutes early. And it was just a small meeting any pains or questions. So get with the right organization if and if the company’s not really feeding you, and that level, and that’s where you need to be fed, you probably need to look at something else. And you can use your network that you’re building. So build that network.

Yeah, there’s so many ways nowadays to connect with people. You know, I was an HVAC contractor years ago before got into manufacturing. And I was always looking, I, you know, I had a pretty big shop. And I was always looking for that guy, that one guy that, like, I’ll tell you what he used to just get me I almost had a tear run down my cheek. Every time I heard this, I’d have a, I have one of my Tech’s and I had a couple of these would do this. They’d say, Hey, Boss, do you think maybe I can get off work early on Thursday? Because United Refrigeration has somebody coming in from Robert Shaw to talk about gas valves or something like that I really want to go, right? And that’s like, whoa, who are you? You know. So connecting up with stuff going on, and wholesalers, a lot of times they have stuff going on, you know, so,

absolutely. And, you know, that was that was I guess, maybe I kind of had the gift for gab. And I was always pretty cool with just talking to people. Um, so that might have been, and some folks may not have that. But you can still from your attitude, and and your presence just just generally want to learn and just just being a good trustworthy person, you can still build those avenues, you know, in person. And then we talked about the social aspect as well, with the, you know, the online stuff.

Yeah, yeah. So let’s talk about real briefly. One of the other things that I have a lot of technicians get challenged with, is money management, and I know you’re not a money manager, but you’re living life, right. And one of the things that, that, that, that the way it works on my pyramid is you have work life balance at the top money management, those two at the top, you know, the technical excellence and work ethic, that stuff, you know, that’s, that’s important, but the two at the top money management, the ability to be smart with your money can actually feed into problems on work life balance, and in vice versa. Right. And I just give me your opinion about, you know, the importance of, of educating yourself on on managing money when you’re starting to make good money in the trades.

So, yeah, this is, this is from my dad’s playbook. You can’t borrow your way out of debt son. Right. You know, that’s, that’s kind of the thing. So, you know, a lot of this goes back to my parents, how they, they, it’s, if you get on the kind of Dave Ramsey, if anybody’s ever listened to him, you don’t have to necessarily live your life verbatim towards that, but he’s got a lot of good points. And a lot of his points, I can reflect back on how, how I was brought up. So be mindful, you know, don’t pay for stuff that, that you haven’t made the money for yet. Right? don’t necessarily need it. Be smart about it, you know, you may not necessarily need that new car, you may just want that new car, right? It could be a need, you know, if it’s a safety issue, reliability issue, you need one good car at the house, you know, and you got to weigh all those things out. So it can be money management is wow, that’s a that’s a big subject, then I would say just be careful with where you’re at and and don’t spend beyond your means.

Okay, that’s, that’s good. That’s good advice. Yeah. And, you know, one of the unique things that that is, the media totally misses this about skilled trades. But one of the amazing things about this, as you know, you take somebody right out of high school, and, you know, they they’re, they know like me, that’s what my situation is, I knew right out of high school, I was not a college guy. I was not so anyway, you the difference between the college path and the skilled trades path is that the money in skilled trades comes much, much faster. Right? So you know, you decide you’re going to go to work in the skilled trades and you get really good at it. Your your income trajectory goes goes way up really fast. And on the end, you also you tend to have little to no debt, because you’re, you know, you’re working while you’re going to school a lot of times And we’re live guys get off the rails a little bit as you know, they, they’re, you know, been working maybe a little side jobs in high school or something like that and they’re making, you know, a minimum wage or whatever, whatever that job is. And they go into skilled trades. And you know, I’ve seen guys, they they go from 20,000 year, within four or five years, they’re making six figures. But they’re wanting to spend seven figures, you know?

Yeah, that’s, that’s definitely something that should be maybe thought about bringing into as part of our vocational and apprenticeship programs, we shouldn’t be. Because, you know, not to, not to change things around. But you know, they’re, they’re been talking more and more about introducing finance curriculum for high school graduates, I think. Yeah, I mean, yeah, I’m very lucky that my parents instilled all these things into me, but we have so many young people that they didn’t have that opportunity for one reason or another. Yeah, so definitely something that needs to be talked about. No,

I totally agree. So that let’s go, let’s jump up up the ladder a little bit, I want to talk about work life balance. This this one is, it’s one of the things that can derail somebody’s career pretty quickly, you know, if work life balance gets out of whack, especially if you’re married, or you have a significant other, and, you know, you’re not paying attention to your relationships that are important. How do technicians maintain work life balance, while they’re so busy these days? What’s the what’s the trick? Any ideas on that?

I can only speak from my experiences, I wouldn’t even begin because there’s so many caveats to a person’s life. But, you know, if, if, if my playbook somebody can take one little part of it. So kind of what happened to me is, is a transition into at some early on in my HVAC career, in a supermarket refrigeration, absolutely fell in love with it, I that’s hands down, probably top two, maybe three jobs that I’ve ever done in the trade. The problem was that it was unbelievably demanding. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was hurting my personal life, other than it was hurting me, because I wasn’t spending the time now, I imagine if I carried this out a 912 15 years, I would have seen a dramatic difference in how my children are raised, and my you know, my personal life, but I kind of cut it off pretty quick, I did a few years at it, made some good money working overtime. And I just kind of woke up one day, and I’m like, you know, I really love doing this. But I want to find the aspect of this of the trade that the company is going the company’s robust enough and, and we have the opportunity to get this vacation time to have some weekends, definitely be at home at night with, you know, my family. So that was a personal decision that I made to move out of that role. And look at other aspects. And a lot of ways I kind of had to backtrack again, you know, so then I got to backtrack, again, kind of start over in the commercial side of HVAC, but it was a it was a good in hindsight, it was a good move for me.

Do you think for a technician out there? Do you think a bigger company or a smaller company? Is there is there trending as far as you know, the bigger companies have better respect or, you know, understanding of work life balance versus smaller companies or just depends on the company?

I think it just depends on the company. I mean, for me, believe it or not, that being right here in Polk County, Florida, you would think that I would be attracted in work well with a small company. That is that is as far from the truth as it can be. I work well. Yeah. And I’m a gray area guy, right? But I work well with good solid structure. That’s just how and I kind of learned this later on about myself. I didn’t know it right away. Um, so that worked well for me, growing with bigger companies, but I have a tremendous amount of professional friends that they like the smaller companies better that’s a better fit for them. So yeah, that’s our individual preference there. Yeah.

Yeah, no, that makes that makes perfect sense. Hey, guys, I have an exciting announcement. We just recently made some updates to our three most popular online courses and products. estelar If you’re a technician that’s looking to improve your skills a little bit, maybe get some specialized training to be of more value to your customers and your employer. Or if you are an employer, a contractor that is looking to augment your existing in house training with online training that can be accessible from any device. This is a really great opportunity. Just go to process chiller Academy comm to scroll down on the homepage, and you will see the course area. If you go into the course page, you will see that we have currently for limited time, we have a promo code of chiller Pro that will save you 25% on any one of these courses. I hope you check it out. And I’m looking forward to seeing you in class. One of the things I wanted to segue over into Ronnie is is wages. I put a bunch of information out I just matter of fact, I’ve got some podcasts out on this and one of the things that has been really eye opening for me. Let me see if I can pull this up real quick. Um You’ve heard

huh, getting rid of my Hoover Dam pitcher.

Um, what I’m what I’m looking for here is I’m looking for what’s going on here. Now I’ve cut this part out, I guess there we go. Sometimes my computer doesn’t doesn’t

doesn’t work, right. Trust me, I do these virtual classes every week understand? Yeah,

sometimes they’re just, it’s just, yeah, computers, they don’t have a plan. They’re good play toys, they have no place in business. Um, so what I’m looking for here is I’m looking for the There we go, finally got to it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics. These guys, it’s it’s so interesting about the, the data that is is coming out. And there we go. Some of you can see my screen here. What what I’m looking at here, this is Bureau of Labor Statistics this this has to do with wage projections and stuff. And one of the things that I find it’s so interesting about this is that they lumped together. heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. Okay, fine. But they lumped together mechanics and installers in one lump. And what blows my mind here is is the number so the mean wage for a journeyman HVAC technicians, according to this is is 2568 per hour, right? What’s your, what’s your opinion of that? Is that I mean, is that real?

No, there’s no listen, I got into the trade, like I’d say 20 some odd years ago, and I was talking to a gentleman that owned his own business, and I said, I want to be at $24 an hour in three years. Right? He laughed at me, he laughed at me back then there’s no way it’s impossible. I was making $28 An hour and three years. Right, you know, so that, that, that and you hear, you know, residential companies? You know, they’re, they’re paying very well. And it depends on if you’re with a bigger company, sales opportunities come into that when you’re in the field, a lot of things, but if you were to put all that together, um, I would say that, you know, you’re probably looking, even as a light commercial residential technician, if you’re doing well, and you’re knowledgeable, you’re with a decent company. I couldn’t I wouldn’t see a problem with somewhere between 60 to 80. Okay, you know, 1000 a year. So

that’s kind of what I the reason why I wanted to I wanted to kind of delve into that question, Ronnie is that the your labor statistics? We’re facing a headwind, skilled trades in general. I don’t care if it’s HVAC plumber, doesn’t matter what it is. We’re facing a big headwind, in that. The the colleges, high school counselors, they’re all quoting the BLS data and BLS. I’m not saying it’s corrupt. I’m just saying that they’re collecting a lot of data, I mean, from a gazillion different labor codes, and they’re throwing in there and that’s fine. That’s okay. But what the concern is, is that we’re fighting the the The mindset of well, if nothing else works out, if nothing else works out, you can always go ahead and be a plumber, or an HVAC guy. It’s a fallback. And the argument that I’m making is, we’re going to get the word out that you know, people are making real money in in skilled trades. They just aren’t.

It’s amazing, Martin, the opportunity for financial security, real financial security. And and, and let’s back that up one step. One of my big mindsets when I got into this trade is, nobody’s ever going to be able to take food off of my plate off of my table, right. And if even even if at the end of the day, I have to go to Camtech, or one of these schools to get my license. I’m good. If I know how to do my trade, I’m going to be able to make a living. So I think that’s one of the biggest things that is missed is the freedom in this industry, because you have a skilled trade, you’re always going to be needed. And the funny part, it’s it is, it does seem a little incorrect.

Yeah. Well, and that’s the headwind we’re facing. I mean, until we get the word out about the fact that there’s real opportunities in skilled trades. And again, I’m not talking about HVAC. And listen, I’m not banging on college. I’m not, you know, if you want to be a doctor or lawyer, I don’t care what the commercial says, if you stay at Motel Six last night, you’re not going to be a brain surgeon. That’s just how it is right? You’re going to have to go to you’re going to have to go to college for that. But you know, what, when I’m when I’m stuck on and I’m trying to get the word out about is these young folks, you know, they’re talking to their parents, junior year, you know, sophomore year, if they’re depending on the on the district they’re in, they’re talking to their parents, or parents saying, oh, yeah, you got to go to college. You gotta go. But the perspective is, is that the, the parents are thinking about college in their world, right? When they went to college, but it’s very different. Now, the the cost of college is Go has always gone up, way faster than the cost of living, right. So I think it’s prime time for us to get the word out and, and say, hey, you know, there’s, there’s a really good opportunity here, and it’s not just a backup, a consolation prize.

You know, Martin, that’s a great talking point for me, because, as I said, earlier, I was, you know, my parents were from that generation where college was extremely valuable. And, and, and a lot of a lot of people my age that embarked on that were very successful, you know, during that time period, because they got it to a degree, but it wasn’t, I graduated in 1989. And it wasn’t long after that, that that college degree market started getting extremely oversaturated. Right. So like you said, it’s a much, much different conversation. So fast forward to, you know, when my children got the age of going to college, my thing was, um, if you’re going to go to college, you need to be career specific. You know, otherwise, you need to find a skilled trade. Those were my there was no in between for that. And most of those worked. A lot of times kids go they do you know, young people, kids, we call them kids, right. But they

were all we can say they’re all kids.

But you know, they College is a good experience, just like the military is a good experience, if you don’t really have a place to go. But if you’re if you if you have a sense of working with your hands, working with people do and things of that nature, then the trades are a wonderful place, and it’s not a dead end. That’s the biggest thing that parents need to understand when they’re coaching their children is it’s like I told my son, go to college, or why don’t you look at being alignment? Well, guess what? He did college for a year and a half about like I did, he’s an Air Force. Now his alignment with the US Air Force? Yeah, electrical linemen. So that was a great place to go for him. And he’s, he is forever going to be successful. Nobody’s ever going to take food off of his table. All right.

Well, the other thing too, that is, is has changed since the college experience that a lot of the parents may remember is that the digital age, artificial intelligence, all these things that are they’re happening right now today, have created a big vulnerability for many of these college degrees, you know for exams. You know, you go to college, you want to be a game designer, you know, that’s what all a lot of the young folks are talking about. Now I want to design the next app, I want to design I want to, I want to, you know, be a coder, you know, they’re always pushing that. And what’s getting missed is that in the US, since we’re capitalistic society, the colleges, you’re gonna have to go into debt, the either the parents or the kids. And the average debt is about 30,000 bucks. And the a lot of the other countries they pay for most of especially the socialized countries, they pay for most of the kids education. So you get a guy or gal that is graduating with the graphics, arts degree, right, or computer science degree. They get out and now they’re competing with people in other countries that didn’t have to pay for most or all of their education, who are willing to work for a lot less. So they just got outsourced. Right. And it’s just it’s just a tough situation. Whereas skilled trades, obviously, I’m a big proponent of it. You know, you get a technician that works on a 500 ton chiller. That’s not getting outsourced.

Yeah, they’re there. They’re there. They’re calling you up, and you’re gonna eat that week, I guarantee it, because we’re gonna have their killer working.

Yeah, that’s a it’s interesting.

And you know, the big piece of that puzzle is, people don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s all of us whether we’re 90 years old, or 10 years old, right? We don’t know what we don’t know. And we have this, we think that our society has this perception about the trades, because for so many years, it was kind of squished down underneath the college level opportunities. And it’s what you went to when you couldn’t make it in college. Right? I can tell you that the math and science that we do at my level is is is definitely at some level entry level college work. For sure. Yeah.

And you know, what’s interesting when I found out because I talked to I interview my share of technicians out there too, and I’m trying to get more, by the way, any of you folks listening to this podcast, if you want to get on here, like I got Ronnie in here and tell your story, I want to hear it. But what what, what is really interesting is, is the ones that have actually went way over the top just strictly talking about income, are the ones that have figured out a lane like like, for example, you’re you’re into instruction, right? You pick the lane, right? You’re doing teaching, some other person may really enjoy building automation, right? Some other people might really enjoy PLC programming, in other words, that you’re still in the HVAC trade, but maybe you’re working for a manufacturer and you’re programming there. PLCs. Well, Johnson Controls for example, you guys make a whole line right? of building automation controls, right? So, you know, you could go from an HVAC guy who understands the sequence of operation of a chiller or an air conditioner, doesn’t matter what it is, and apply that knowledge and strong worth that work ethic and all that stuff to writing PLC code. Right. And it’s just, it boggles, there’s so much so many directions, like you say, you know, basically, I’m saying the same thing.

Well, you know, and that’s the reinforcement that we need is not just this, right, you know, we’re not just doing this, we’re doing a lot more and they’re, you know, especially with a company like like Johnson Controls or some of your other bigger manufacturers. I mean, they have so many opportunities and so many avenues to go just because you went to school, and you learned basic electrical and the refrigerant cycle, those two pieces right there can open up a lifetime. 10 lifetimes the doors, right, you can’t you can’t live long enough to do all the possibilities in this in this trade.

Yeah, yeah. Very good. Well, man, I can’t finance this for a little bit. Um, so So Ronnie, you work for Johnson? What if I have you know, if a technician wants to reach out to you, Are you active on LinkedIn and has questions for you or anything like that? I don’t know if that if you can do that or not. But I mean, if somebody has a question for for you about chiller training, or Johnson Controls or whatever, how did they get in touch with you?

Absolutely. If somebody wanted to hit me up on LinkedIn, I do pop in there about once a week and check My messages they can connect there. Do want to warn people strongly discourage us from tech support, because that can go off on a different tangent. But if you have some training needs for your organization or personally, and you want to have a conversation, certainly hit me up on LinkedIn and and okay, and I’ll be happy to reach out to you.

You don’t want to give at your home phone number. Ronnie, what’s the matter with you? Yeah, it’s


Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s really great. Ronnie, thank you so much for being part of the show. And I can’t thank you enough. It’s, it’s been been very interesting. And I know that what you have to say is gonna inspire a lot of guys out there any any last things you want to say?

No, I mean, just just hang in there. If you’re thinking about the trade again, we beat this one to death, but it’s a world of opportunity. Um, and and keep your head up. Keep applying yourself. So Martin, thank you for having me on. It’s been a pleasure and I look forward to hearing more of your podcasts.

So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I very much look forward to continuing to connect with you. Please don’t hesitate to send me messages on LinkedIn. I’m on there all the time. Or you can reach out to me on my email. I’m at M King at process Tiller Academy calm and until next week. When I give you the next installment. I wish you a great week, and I will connect up with you again soon. Take care.