Solving Hiring Shortages With Veterans—Featuring Trane and Modern Mechanical

On this week’s episode of Profit Roadmap, we have two special guests here to talk about a unique way to overcome hiring shortages while helping America’s veterans. 

Crystal Hyman is from Trane, and she plays a key role in their Trade Warriors. She is joined by Andrew Straka from Modern Mechanical who is another huge advocate for the program.

On this episode of the podcast, you’ll learn:

  • How to overcome hiring hurdles
  • Why veterans make incredible assets for your team
  • How Trade Warrior is helping veterans find careers upon the completion of their military service
  • And how the right technology can be appealing to new techs

Andrew got his start in HVAC over 30 years ago and is now one of the owners of Modern Mechanical out of Garner, North Carolina. His company participates in Trade Warriors.

Crystal has been the HVAC leader at Trane for about 20 years. She started out in support and sales and has spent the last five years focused on marketing and customer experience. She also plays an important role in Trane’s Trade Warriors.

What Is the Trade Warrior Program?

The Trade Warriors program was created to help those armed service people bridge the gap between military and civilian careers. The program was created at the Army Career Skills Program in Ft. Bragg, and this program works with Trane dealers across the USA. The Trade Warriors program consists of hands-on, eight-week training. This program equips veterans with the necessary skills and certifications. Plus, the program assists with job placement in the HVAC field. 

Even though the vets are coming out of Ft. Bragg, Trane is helping them find jobs at Trane dealers throughout the USA.

Hiring Challenges

Andrew discusses how most service industries and trades have struggled with hiring for the past few years. This is due to many conditions—ranging from the economy to a shortage of qualified workers. Without having enough employees, it can be very tough to grow a business.

Andrew and Crystal both talk about the interesting stats for the HVAC field. There are about 290,000 HVAC techs in the US, with about 110,000 open HVAC positions. What further complicates this is that about 23,000 techs retire or leave the industry each year.

In past years, there hasn’t been a big push for high school graduates to attend trade schools. There is a bigger push toward that now, but it will still take time to see the effects of these graduates entering the workforce to make up the deficit of techs leaving.

Hiring Tips

Even though this is a challenging job market, there are some things HVAC and other companies can do. Andrew said it was important to be upfront about what the job was all about. He talks about the environment (and potentially extreme temps) that techs work in. He says the best techs are usually mechanically minded.

Even after you find the right techs, it is important to help them grow. Working alongside them, providing the right tools, and the right support to help them be their best. It is little things, like coaching techs on how to interact with customers, and helping them along the way when they make mistakes too.

Andrew says he can typically identify a good tech after they’ve worked for 8 weeks. If they can handle the crawl spaces, extreme temperatures, and day-to-day tasks, they are on their way to being a successful tech.

Crystal added that one of the unique things that can help an HVAC company be more attractive to new techs is the use of technology. The right software can help automate tasks and streamline operations making a big difference for techs and businesses. Equipping techs to simply take out an iPad and get access to information on customers, scheduling, parts, and more is a game-changer.

Why Hire Vets?

Veterans learn a ton of valuable skills that translate very well to the trades. They’ve developed a solid work ethic, knowing the value of showing up on time, attention to detail, being prepared, and consistently delivering high-quality work.

Andrew’s company is an early adopter of Trade Warriors and has paired newly hired vets with senior techs. It has worked out very well for his HVAC company, as they were able to quickly train up their new employees from the program. They continue to utilize the program, and it has been a great source for finding quality employees.

Andrew also mentions that working in HVAC can come with some unique challenges. Working in an attic in North Carolina during the summer can be hot; around 125°F! He was telling a new tech from Trade Warriors about these kinds of conditions. The veteran responded that he was used to working in extreme heat after having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Andrew and his company love working with vets, and he appreciates their service to our country. By being able to provide jobs for vets, he feels like he is able to show his appreciation, say thank you, and provide vets a means to support their families.

Are There Other Programs Like Trade Warriors?

The military does offer career transition services for a wide variety of industries. What makes Trade Warriors unique is that it delivers high-quality HVAC training and it has a partnership with Trane to help place veterans with over 300 dealers across America.


Trane American Dealers 

Trade Warrior Program

Modern Mechanical HVAC

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Related: Beating Hiring Bottlenecks and Building a Winning Culture With Libby DeLucien

The following music was used for this media project:

Music: Summon the Rawk by Kevin MacLeod

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License (CC BY 4.0):

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