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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    22

    Do Some (Or Usually?) Residential Companies Not Have Techs Do Installs?

    I have schooling with certs and my teachers told me some guys will want to be installers, while others will want to be commercial service techs, while others will want to be residential service techs. I want to get into the residential service tech field. I don't really care for the installation aspect and was wondering if some companies don't have their techs do any install work? Or, if they do have residential techs do installs is it usually limited to condensors? I don't really mind that part if a res tech is required to do that.

    Reason I'm asking is that I interviewed at a small shop. It only has the owner as a tech and two install-only guys. He told me if hired I'd be training to do both and would be doing install work on days when there are only enough service calls for him (owner) to be doing. Not that I mind hard work, but I'm more into the troubleshooting/repair type of mindset and would like to zero in on that, and I know that can be hard work as well anyway.

    Just wondering...Maybe it's the larger companies that can only keep a tech in service calls 99% of the time as they have service contracts and such, but in a small 4 man company you have to be a jack of all trades? Is that true or not? Really the part that bothered me was I'd be expected to learn sheet metal for the installs. Far as I know I thought that was a specialized trade and was rare for a tech to know how to do? I'm not really a "dimensional" type of thinker. More of a logical diagnose/repair type of mindset. Taking measurements and figuring out angles and such isn't really my cup of tea, but give me a electrical/mechanical problem and my mind just loves to tackle those types of puzzles.

    Also, I was told that if hired I'd be on night call every other week due to being a two-tech shop. What's the normal rotation for a bigger shop? Just trying to figure out what the pros and cons of the mom-and-pop versus bigger shops are.
    Last edited by critterhunter; 07-12-2012 at 11:48 AM. Reason: More Questions

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    3,614
    We're a smaller shop (@10 employees) and all of our service techs started out as installer's helpers and we start all new hires (even tech. school grads) as installer's helpers. We've found most tech school grads not able to run service right out of tech school. You could be the exception, but we've found it usually takes about 1 to 2 years for a new hire to get into a service vehicle. And our service techs are the BEST installers we have and we use them as that from time to time!! Being able to do BOTH is job security for them and adds value to their employment!

    To get into a "service only" job would probably involve a larger contractor who'll also want verifiable experience. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    18,206
    I started out as a helper in installation, then installer, then service helper and installer, then just service.

    If service was slow, I would go help the installers.

    It is extremely important to know both installation and service IMO.
    To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.
    -- Confucius

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    3,614
    Cool makes my point. Make yourself so versatile that the company NEVER lays you off!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    19,497
    Were do commercial service. We don't have installers.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

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  6. #6
    Not all service calls are eletricaly or refrigerant related.learn the installation side and the theory of hvac and ecome the best tech you con be.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California/Nevada
    Posts
    3,717
    i think the days of having guys only do service is coming to an end.
    most companies usually show some respect for older guys who can't do all the install stuff anymore.

    most sales companies will expect you to install what you sell, which may only be one side of a system, and/or replace what ever parts you sell.

    many new companies focus mostly on install.

    you should aim for commercial service, you'll probably end up in residential anyways

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    6,966
    commercial companies also run start-up crews that follow up the installation. these guys run the unit up,check the controls and you might get 10-20 units on a new install..nice and new.Trane,Carrier,JCI pick the best guys who are organized and can converse with a customer rep'n the brand ...nice gig.night service depends on the bodes in the trucks with some companies running lead guy with back up and maybe a supervisor to keep the techs in line...on a hot weekend.
    "when in doubt...jump it out" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1qEZHhJubY

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,134
    Quote Originally Posted by critterhunter View Post
    I don't really care for the installation aspect and was wondering if some companies don't have their techs do any install work? Or, if they do have residential techs do installs is it usually limited to condensors? I don't really mind that part if a res tech is required to do that.

    Be prepared to install anything and everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by critterhunter View Post
    Reason I'm asking is that I interviewed at a small shop. It only has the owner as a tech and two install-only guys. He told me if hired I'd be training to do both and would be doing install work on days when there are only enough service calls for him (owner) to be doing. Not that I mind hard work, but I'm more into the troubleshooting/repair type of mindset and would like to zero in on that, and I know that can be hard work as well anyway.

    You will benefit tremendously if you know both. It's best to start out doing installation, however, you should begin with the end in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by critterhunter View Post
    Just wondering...Maybe it's the larger companies that can only keep a tech in service calls 99% of the time as they have service contracts and such, but in a small 4 man company you have to be a jack of all trades? Is that true or not?

    I believe it's mostly true.

    Quote Originally Posted by critterhunter View Post
    Really the part that bothered me was I'd be expected to learn sheet metal for the installs. Far as I know I thought that was a specialized trade and was rare for a tech to know how to do? I'm not really a "dimensional" type of thinker. More of a logical diagnose/repair type of mindset. Taking measurements and figuring out angles and such isn't really my cup of tea, but give me a electrical/mechanical problem and my mind just loves to tackle those types of puzzles.

    It sounds like you're making excuses. You have no experience in either one, so how can you judge what it takes and what you will enjoy and be good at? I started out doing commercial sheet metal installs. It is a good trade to know. There are things I learned doing sheet metal that made me a better service tech., and things I have learned while doing service that I wish I knew when i was installing.

    Quote Originally Posted by critterhunter View Post
    Also, I was told that if hired I'd be on night call every other week due to being a two-tech shop. What's the normal rotation for a bigger shop? Just trying to figure out what the pros and cons of the mom-and-pop versus bigger shops are.

    I'm on call for 2 weeks once or twice a year. I do commercial service. No installation.
    The key to happiness is lower expectations.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    First....it doesn't matter WHAT your school tells you.....99.9% of guys coming out of schools are in NO WAY ready to roll a service truck.

    Second....it will be valuable experience to learn how to do install work, particularly in residential. Most commercial stuff is laid out by architects and engineers....rarely the case in resi.

    You need to absorb the ins and outs of install work, so that when you DO get to the point that you are legitimately ready to do service work, you'll be able to recognize when it's an equipment problem, or an installation problem.

    Third....as previously stated, it will be in your best interest over the long haul, to be as diverse as possible with your skills.....it's job security.

    That being said, it's pretty unusual to find a GOOD service tech doing install/change-out work.....they're too valuable to consume their talents doing install work.

    Beware of listening too closely to the promises made by your tech school teachers......There have been hundreds, if not thousands of tech school "graduates" that came out of school falsely believing that they were something that they were not.....and failed miserably....and eventually leaving the trade altogether.

    Technical incompetence is NOT a sales tool....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    In a boiler room
    Posts
    7,222
    Here's the deal, you are fresh from school. If you can get any job in the HVAC field, GRAB IT! (as long as you can get a decent employer that is fair and honest)

    Make yourself into the best installer your new boss has ever seen! If he sends you on service calls, do the same. Be the best service tech you can be. Spend time here on H talk and other informative sites, read manuals on the equipment you work on, join RSES and read through the SAM manuals. Always look for new things to learn. Your boss will show his appreciation by fair compensation. (assuming you got the type of employer described in the parenthesis above)

    If you stay focused on becoming the best, you will be a very good tech in 5 years or less with marketable skills that other employers want and need.

    Don't expect to do straight service calls right out of school. Take the job offered and show them you can learn fast and apply your knowledge to the job(s) at hand.

    Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    122
    The Resi shop I work for has Maintenance guys, Service Techs and Installers. I just started this summer, but I've only heard of service techs working on 1 install so far, and that was a slow day, so they will send people to gang bang the installs if it's slow. Also I have noticed if you sell something that can't match up to the existing duct work you are going to get an ear full, and if you don't take all the right measurements the installers are going to be griping about you, especially where I work the techs get commission and the installers are the ones who gotta break their backs changing out the units. I can already see the installers have the physically hardest part of the job, especially with the attic units, here in AZ sometimes the attics are literally almost 200 degrees, and that insulation is terrible, not to mention lifting a roughly 150lb furnace through a small access hole into an attic (not real attics here, more like crawl spaces.). Prior to this I took an online HVAC course and worked in underground utilities for about 7 years and I have to say that this kind of work is a little more gnarly than I thought it would be. Right now I'm a duct cleaner and an install helper, I have no ambitions to be a career installer but definitely can see it's a valuable side of the trade to learn.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    wisconsin
    Posts
    270
    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    Were do commercial service. We don't have installers.
    Sounds like a dream come true, no installers, no call backs on newly installed equipment.

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