Commercial HVAC Business Teaming with PCC and PCS to Develop Talented Technicians

Students seated at table preparing to sign on to an internship with those responsible for creating the opportunity standing behind.

GREENVILLE—As many of their peers slept soundly Tuesday morning, three young men from Pitt County committed themselves to a new training opportunity with Piedmont Service Group (PSG).

Wearing PSG caps and Pitt Community College t-shirts, the three signed up for an internship that will help them prepare for careers in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) field. Joining them were representatives from Piedmont and PCC who worked with Pitt County Schools to develop the learning experience, which will take place throughout the summer and possibly into the upcoming academic year.

“The wonderful collaboration between PCC, Pitt County Schools and industry is a beautiful model,” says PSG Regional Vice President H.B. Moore. “I believe we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what can be.”

At the very least, Tyler Bradshaw, William Gill and Nathan Moore will spend the next month or so working alongside knowledgeable PSG technicians. The goal, according to H.B. Moore, is to develop a local “talent pipeline” of well-trained HVAC technicians.

“The students will take part in extensive safety training and gain great hands-on experience with a wide range of commercial and industrial systems,” he said. “They’ll spend their summer days with seasoned, caring mentors with decades of field experience. That will amplify their classroom and lab experience at PCC, because they will have been up close and hands-on in real life applications.”

A Greenville resident, Gill is a 2018 J.H. Rose High School graduate about to start Pitt’s Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program in August. Nathan Moore, meanwhile, is a Belvoir resident preparing for his second year of PCC’s HVAC program. Bradshaw, who lives in Stokes, is a rising senior at North Pitt High School with plans to enroll in HVAC courses at PCC after earning a diploma.

Moore said extending internships to Bradshaw, Gill and Nathan Moore comes from PSG’s recent decision to reach out to students earlier in their academic careers. He said the company is working with high school career development coordinators and one-on-one with students in an effort to steer them toward PSG employment and the HVAC trade, in general.

“My wife, who teaches at J.H. Rose, and I have a saying, and that is, ‘(students) cannot be what they cannot see,’” Moore said. “Internships are a strong way to let the right students see what is out there.”

In addition to high-quality candidates ready for HVAC employment, Moore says he hopes the revamped internship program and high school information sessions lead to students fully engaged in academic coursework.

“We hope (they) graduate at the top of their class and bring much-needed value and strength to our industry,” he said.

Since the pool of quality HVAC service technicians has been declining for more than two decades, Moore said PSG has offered internship opportunities to PCC students for at least 10 years. It’s not exactly been a recipe for PSG to make strong connections with potential workers, though, because the interns are in the final semester of the HVAC program and typically work a day or so each week around their academic schedules.

“We generally felt like we were standing at the PCC exit door on graduation day with a catcher’s mitt, hoping that someone good would walk out that we could hire,” Moore said. “… As our operations manager says, ‘We want hungry and humble techs.’”

At summer’s end, Moore will evaluate PSG’s newest interns and decide whether or not to extend the program into the 2018-19 academic year.

“If the intern shows strong general technical aptitude for the job, has great work habits and is a contributor to our team, then they will have an opportunity to work during off-school hours and during school breaks,” he said. “We want to keep them fully engaged.”

Noting that demand for skilled HVAC technicians is high “and will continue to be,” Moore said PSG seeks individuals who are intelligent, articulate and hardworking.

“There is a sure career path at PSG for strong, contributing techs,” he said. “The vast majority of our middle and upper management began their careers in the field doing installations, preventive maintenance, and service and repair work as well as direct digital controls service and installation.

“Over time, opportunities open up for advancement to those who are positive contributors,” he continued. “Piedmont Service Group is blessed to have a family-oriented culture, where young folks can come and grow.”