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What advice would you give a newbie to the trade?

RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
I am in the autumn of my career and was thinking about what would be one bit of advice I would go back and tell the younger Ray. I thought about working harder or learning more but I think the most important thing for me is take care of your health. My knees ache and some days I have to pull myself up from a kneeling position. As a boiler tech, you spend lots of time on your knees doing service I would tell him that if you are kneeling, you should kneel on knee pads or something soft. I remember seeing an old timer who wore knee pads every day for work and I thought it looked dumb. Boy did I misjudge that. Just curious what advice you would give to a newbie or yourself.
Thanks

Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons
kcopp
«1

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,574
    Learn from your mistakes god knows you’ll make them. 
    More importantly learn from other mistakes. 
    EdTheHeaterManGGrossjim s_2
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,999
    Get into management/sales/teaching by the time you are 30. Keep learning what ever you can, so you can pass it on the the younger ones, then you don't need to be in the attics, crawlspaces and other hard to get to places.

    Dan Holohan has the best job. Tells you how to fix it. When asked to go ahead and fix it.
    His response is "I don't fix things. I just tell you how to do it... that will be $200.00"

    As I said earlier Ray... "You need People."
    Edward Young Retired HVAC Contractor & HYDRONICIAN Services first oil burner at age 16 P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,216
    I would be terrible at hiring people and scheduling people and making sure the paperwork gets done to pay bills and pay everyone and order things but I am great at explaining to someone how to do something. I (and most of the people here) am far more valuable telling 10 people how to do the work and running out and helping them when they get in trouble than doing the work myself but I would be terrible at doing what is normally though of as a supervisor or management. I think figuring out how to separate those and finding someone who is good at the administrative part is the key and something that most organizations fail miserably at.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,927
    edited January 18
    Only two things a newbie need to know: Poop flows down hill and payday's on Friday.

    Seriously, read everything Caleffi puts into the Idronics magazine, on line or hard cover. There is a tremendous amount of "how to's" on the internet. Buy a computer and get internet access. Take a class. The customer is the ultimate payer of your salary, be courteous and polite and explain thing to the customer even if he doesn't understand what your saying. He will be pleased that you respect and involved him.
    jpm659er
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,170
    Yes. Take care of your health. 46 years lugging pipe and boilers, kneeling in the snow to fix RTUs. The chemicals and boiler cleaning and asbestos, Frost bitten hands and feet. Stay out of Dunkin Doughnuts, McDonalds & Burger King. The roofs with the rock ballast. Crawl spaces with no lights, broken glass and cobwebs.

    If someone want's to work do the controls thing. A pocket screwdriver and a laptop
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,788
    Hi, I'd have a few things to say. First would be to learn every day. Don't miss one day! Once you are a decent generalist, and know a little bit of everything, specialize. Then get really good at your specialty. Hunt down mentors. Searching online is fine, but also find the old books and learn from them. That perspective is not available anywhere else and is priceless. Learn the art of business. Learn about numbers. Give work that isn't your specialty to other contractors in your area. You'll soon start seeing referrals from them. Be a teacher, not a salesman. They both may say the same thing, but their motivation is different. And of course, take care of your health. Study it like you would HVAC and learn how to keep your body and mind in good shape for a long time. Finally, as soon as you know enough, start teaching others. Be unassuming about it, and just help a littler here and there, or try to explain complex stuff like you're talking to a smart kid. Be a resource for others, even in the trades. It always pays back more than you give somehow.
    That's what I'd say. :)

    Yours, Larry
    jpm659er
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    1) Jump in with both feet.
    2) Learn everything you can the first 5 years
    3) pick a specialty within the trade, for example.  Water filtration, Radiant, Steam, CO, Boilers, Controls and become an authority on it.
    4) Do top notch work so you can get top notch $$..you deserve it
    5) Always wear safety goggles and face sheilds.,  dust masks and Asbestos Respirator when near it...
    6) make a nice kneeling pad by tripling up 
        The 1 foot by two foot foam rubber
        Kneeling pad.
    7) Sock your $ away 
    8)  Be a straight shooter
    9) read, read, read.  Listen 
    10) Seek out successful mentors & heed their advice . 

    Mad Dog 🐕 


    airb0undTom_133kcopp
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    Wow lots of great advice. @EdTheHeaterMan I hear you. We have job posts on Indeed. LOL
    I want to service from afar now.
    I do like to learn something everyday whether by accident or on purpose.
    What I love about this industry is that it has a way of keeping you grounded. Just when you think you got it figured out, it smacks you upside the head and says, "Bet you didnt know this"
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    always read instructions
    learn how to do right first speed will come
    airb0undjpm659er
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    You can learn from anybody,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the most experienced or the least experienced
    airb0und
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,496
    1. Listen to the old timers when they tell you not to do everything the hard way. Your body wears out fast.
    2. Invest your hard earned money ASAP, instead of buying new trucks and toys. They can come later.
    3. Know your worth, without being cocky. There is another job around every corner, don't stay somewhere you hate.
    4. Learn. Learn everything you can. Ask questions to everybody you encounter. Be a sponge for knowledge.
    5. Do NOT follow the guys to the bar every night after work. Have a well deserved beer, but don't make it a habit.
    EdTheHeaterManLarry Weingartenairb0und
  • airb0und
    airb0und Member Posts: 1
    I'm still a young guy in my trade, junior level, but I'd say learn to take your time and be methodical. I've made more mistakes trying to rush things and be "expedient" than by just doing it the right way and easing into a task with the right tools and patience.

    No matter what anyone else says or whatever sideways glances or chuckles you get, wear the right safety gear and take your personal health on the job seriously. I've seen a lot of people, young and old, do a lot of stupid **** on the job and I'm only a few years in. Everyone will laugh at you or call you an idiot when you're laid up in the hospital bed when the only thing between you and the hospital bed was the right sized ladder or the right PPE that would've taken 5 minutes to 5 seconds to put on.

    Listen to those who have put their time in. Those co-workers who see a curious person in you and take the time to pull you aside and show you something are telling you through their actions that they feel you might be worthy. They're doing you a favor and a personal service - not everyone who has crossed their path over the years has been worth that tug on the sleeve.

    It's not always about what you do, but what you know. Learn like your pay is dependent on it, because it is. The only way to make your job recession-proof and automation-proof is by knowing more than the other guy, but by also banding together with other techs and other tradesmen and sharing some sort of brotherhood in a dog-eat-dog world. Strive to be better, but don't put others down.

    Take accountability for your mistakes. You will gain respect this way, even in a basic sense, by just being honest. The alternative is much worse.
    Larry WeingartenGroundUp
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    I love this advice Way better than mine LOL @airbound you are wise for being newer to the field.
    @lager LOL That is my pet peeve about installers reading the instructions. I get it though, the manuals are getting like reading a novel now
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    airb0und
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,999
    edited January 18

    Perhaps the best advise I could give is the take a course from @RayWohlfarth !

    Since The @DanHolohan Roadshow is no longer playing at a theater near you
    Edward Young Retired HVAC Contractor & HYDRONICIAN Services first oil burner at age 16 P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    mattmia2
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,181
    Amen
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    edited January 19
    @!! (KIDS" house renovations and business expenses never let me....) Ha ha, but atleast I got one now and 9 years contributions.   In my mind, it never really bothered me because when you love what you do, traditional "retirement" is not wanted or needed.  I will work in this great trade in ANY capacity till They take me out in a bodybag.. lack of Retirement 
    Money....SOLVED!!!!!  You'd be surprised how the accounts start to grow even when you start late!!  MAD 🐕 DOG
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    I don't know why the first few sentences of my post above are cut off, but I was saying
    1)Bring your lunch everyday
    2) Drink alot of water
    3) Make a thick knee cushion pad by tripling up the garden kneeling pads and duct taping together...best knee protection ever better than strap on.  

    4) Start a 401K or Roth Ira the week after your first paycheck.  Start low and raise as u go along. It WILL add up.  

    Because of extremely ambitious and aggressive life moves, I didn't get a pension going until I was 46! But got 9yrs already....
    Oh yeah and.....

    5) Buy ALL of Dan's Books, Rays Books, Siggys Books, hang around here,  take every seminar that comes along and read, read, read....Mad Dog. 

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    6) Seek out Mentors, like minded progressive thinking co-workers, and old timers and put together a small Army of 
    Smart industry, compatriots that you can rely on for technical, life and business advice and camaraderie!   Mad Dog
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    edited January 19
    Because of my inquisitive nature, gung-ho approach to life and deep reverence for learning, I learned of Mr Holohan the first year in the business, mid 1980s.  I followed his Larry Czonka (Miami Dolphons/Giants Legendary Fullback #39 - you tube his highlights) lead blocks all the way to the end zone of life.  He not only educated us, but nurtured and loved us like his nephews. So did TLM.  I've made lifelong friends through the industry and many of the strongest 💪 ones BECAUSE of Dan.   I know I'm getting very sentimental, but I'd rather give tributes while we are all still alive and kickin....Life can turn on a dime!   Mad Dog
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    Thanks @EdTheHeaterMan and @DanHolohan
    @Mad Dog_2 That was awesome
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,832
    Have a great work ethic ,don t be lazy and know that no one knows everything and every body is never always right ,listen to old timers they may know some thing once in a while . Last but not least don’t kill yourself and never make a promise that you cannot complete .
    Last but not least take pride in your work and enjoy it if not then find a different source of income that you enjoy nothing worse then doing what you have to and hating it . Last but not least money talks and bs walks never give your skills away for free . They usually takes ions to acquire .peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    @clammy perfect!
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    Clammy

    Last but not least money talks and bs walks never give your skills away for free . They usually takes ions to acquire .peace and good luck clammy

    In my younger years I was working out town staying in a Motel. The young manager of the Motel had an issue with one his commercial washer. Knocked on our door, asked my foreman to take a look at it.
    Which he & I did, (come along you might be able to learn something)!
    He looked at it, the young manager said " do you know what is wrong with it"? He responded yes,,,give me $50.00, the young manager said I am not asking you to fix it, I can do it myself. Tell what is wrong.
    My foreman said I have worked in this trade for 30 years to learn what is wrong. Give me $50.00 !
    The young manager refused. He never told him, or me he said to me I'm not gonna tell you so you can tell the manager.

    i never learned what is wrong with the commercial Washer. He died about 5 years ago, and took the info to his grave.
    JohnNY
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 395
       A lot of great advice so far; here's my short list regarding service & repair work:
          Never try to solve a phoned in problem on the way to the service call. 
          Back your vehicle into the driveway after you know the coast is clear.
          Keep pet treats in your car / truck.
          Know where the water main shut off is and check that it is in working condition.
          Is there a switch off somewhere?
          Don't discount the occupants input related to the problem; I've found that the house person often provides great clues.
           Wear a personal CO detector.
           Don't overlook the obvious.
           Have a table top & probe thermometer in your toolkit.
            Keep good notes.
            Use the phrase " isn't that interesting "........
          
    Larry WeingartenMad Dog_2
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    wow great advice by all Sounds like the making of an article for @DanHolohan
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Larry Weingarten
  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 47
    Ignore all of the people who tell you need a fancy business plan, accounting software, and on and on. However, be well-organized, and keep good records.
    Provide superior service and quality and you will make more than those who try to cheat people.
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,942
    Mike L and Stephan. Very wise elders.  Mad Dog
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 395
     I would also advise newbies to consider the following guidelines for conduct; they have served me well.
       Safety & liability, honesty & integrity,  best standard practice & workmanship, and, continuing education & training.
     And isn't it interesting that two of my favorite mentors, Dan Holohan and John Wooden are each students & teachers of the english language & the human condition. While I give Dan an edge as a communicator because he identified & adopted the dialect of trades people, John Woodens Pyramid of Success provides a fantastic guideline for achievement on or off the playing field.
       These quotes have stuck with me since I discovered them - " failing to prepare is preparing to fail", " be quick but don't hurry", and, " hug your kids".
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    First Rule of Being Great Teacher

    Keep being a Student

    First Rule of being a Great Student

    Ask Good Questions
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    "God uses people who fail-- because there aren't any other kinds around."
  • lager
    lager Member Posts: 32
    My Baseball Coach in High School, when you were in the batters box,,,,,,

    "be patient,,,,,,,then be quick !"
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    Who knew the wall had so many philosophers? LOL
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,788
    Hi Ray, You just touched a nerve. I think philosophy is a living thing here, not just high flying thinking. Hope it's not inappropriate to share it now, but this is a book I'm working on.

    Yours, Larry
    GGross
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,181
    Everyone needs to read this book. It's simply wonderful.
    Retired and loving it.
    Larry Weingarten
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,279
    Most small businesses fail in the first few years, not due to the lack of work skills. They fail because they had no business plan, no idea how to manage money, what their costs of doing business are.

    Doesn’t need to be fancy, but a business plan is your road map to a successful business. Just as a load calc is to a heating design.

    In the bookstore here are a couple easy reads on basic business skills. Where did the money go, and How much should I charge.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    @Larry Weingarten I love it Is it available on amazon?
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,073
    @hot_rod they are both good reads and informative
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 81
    Go to law school.....
    JohnNY
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,788
    Hi @RayWohlfarth , It's not out yet, but should be in a little over a month. I've been working on it for something over three years, so it will be fun to hold a copy in my hands. Hope it does some good!

    Yours, Larry
    gmcinnes