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  1. #1
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    Mar 2018
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    Miami Ft Lauderdale area
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    Career advice requested. Making the move from residential to commercial.

    I have been a service tech in South Florida for the last three years. My company does light commercial and residential PM service install and construction. I want to move up to chillers and cooling towers. I have an interview coming up and I would like to know what to expect from some of the Techs who have been in this situation before. I know that I'm going to be green all over again? Suggestions and advice requested from my colleagues.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Iowa
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    Experience as much or as many different aspects of HVAC as you can. So you can figure out what it is you want to do.

    There are good and bad situations in any HVAC Career paths you wish to take. You can make a very good living in any aspect of HVAC as long as you are willing to work at it.

    Residential and light commercial is many times feast or famine and dependent on heating & cooling seasons. Commercial is more steady work with very few slow times. Commercial will add new information and skills to what you have to offer a customer or employer. There are many jobs on the resi side that can wait until tomorrow or even Monday (I want the weekend off!). Commercial you may get a call the process is down and the business is loosing lot's of revenue per day or hour. They want you there now and stay until it's back on line. The cost of travel and overtime is small compared to how much they are loosing. Refrigeration is similar to commercial (but dirtier) on a smaller scale. Loss of a process chiller I've seen cost $500K per day. But I've also seen a restraunt throw away $50K worth of meat because it got to 40F when the walkin failed.

    Good Luck

  3. Likes VTP99 liked this post
  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    South Florida
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    Commercial and refrigeration has very little slow downs down here in South Florida. It stays fairly consistent. Residential is almost assured to have lay offs as the weather gets cooler. Unless you are a superior tech that a contractor doesnt want to lose, you most likely will have little to no work during the winter and have to be laid off. As Answer-Man suggested, definitely try to experience as much as you can so you end up where you want to be. If chillers is where you want to be, start studying up as much as you can, and go in with lots of enthusiasm and drive, showing them that although you may not have worked on many you are really on fire to be there and want to be their chiller guy.

    Good luck!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    California
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    167
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiamiVAC View Post
    I have been a service tech in South Florida for the last three years. My company does light commercial and residential PM service install and construction. I want to move up to chillers and cooling towers. I have an interview coming up and I would like to know what to expect from some of the Techs who have been in this situation before. I know that I'm going to be green all over again? Suggestions and advice requested from my colleagues.
    Just to be clear, Your saying this Company you want to work for, "Installs, Services, and PM's Chillers and Cooling Towers"? Is that Correct?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Miami Ft Lauderdale area
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    Thread Starter
    I wish they did then I would just ask to transfer to a different department. They only do small/medium package units and splits under 20 ton. No chilled water equipment, no refrigeration. I would be happy to stay where I am if I could experience the side of the industry I haven't seen yet. I know you are still a baby in this industry until you surpass the 5 year mark. I'm still looking for where I really fit in the HVACR world in my third year. All I know for certain is I love this industry and I plan to stay in it. I left a mind numbing auto parts retail job years ago and I am not looking back. Its good to hear that all you really need is the desire to learn and to be willing to do what it takes. Thats how I got my first HVAC job any way. 90 days into my career I was still in training. The lead pm guy quit and they tossed me the keys to the oldest van in the fleet and I just started working. I hope my next employer will take some more time to train me. especially where six figure equipment and inventories are involved.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    South Florida
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiamiVAC View Post
    I wish they did then I would just ask to transfer to a different department. They only do small/medium package units and splits under 20 ton. No chilled water equipment, no refrigeration. I would be happy to stay where I am if I could experience the side of the industry I haven't seen yet. I know you are still a baby in this industry until you surpass the 5 year mark. I'm still looking for where I really fit in the HVACR world in my third year. All I know for certain is I love this industry and I plan to stay in it. I left a mind numbing auto parts retail job years ago and I am not looking back. Its good to hear that all you really need is the desire to learn and to be willing to do what it takes. Thats how I got my first HVAC job any way. 90 days into my career I was still in training. The lead pm guy quit and they tossed me the keys to the oldest van in the fleet and I just started working. I hope my next employer will take some more time to train me. especially where six figure equipment and inventories are involved.
    I can almost guarantee you that they wont be just throwing you in on six and seven figure equipment without being very sure you know what you are doing. Guys working on those units tend to make decent money and arent hopscotching to different jobs/employers all the time. When inventories that expensive are at stake, a good contractor will make sure you know your stuff. Just be upbeat and desire to learn.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    WA
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    2,191
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    Quote Originally Posted by Answer-Man View Post
    Experience as much or as many different aspects of HVAC as you can. So you can figure out what it is you want to do.

    There are good and bad situations in any HVAC Career paths you wish to take. You can make a very good living in any aspect of HVAC as long as you are willing to work at it.

    Residential and light commercial is many times feast or famine and dependent on heating & cooling seasons. Commercial is more steady work with very few slow times. Commercial will add new information and skills to what you have to offer a customer or employer. There are many jobs on the resi side that can wait until tomorrow or even Monday (I want the weekend off!). Commercial you may get a call the process is down and the business is loosing lot's of revenue per day or hour. They want you there now and stay until it's back on line. The cost of travel and overtime is small compared to how much they are loosing. Refrigeration is similar to commercial (but dirtier) on a smaller scale. Loss of a process chiller I've seen cost $500K per day. But I've also seen a restraunt throw away $50K worth of meat because it got to 40F when the walkin failed.

    Good Luck
    I’ve seen food not get thrown out when the walk in hit 65

  9. Likes VTP99, 2sac liked this post
  10. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Miami Ft Lauderdale area
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    Thread Starter
    So I got the job. Decent pay raise to start with plenty of room to advance. Employee owned company with an ESOP program so I can earn equity while I burn oxy/acetylene. They will pay for me to complete my apprenticeship and give me a little raise if I survive the first 90 day crucible. I'm starting back as an installer. It looks like I'm back on the install/construction crew again like I was when I first got into light commercial. It will be months or even a year or so before I have my own truck again but I think it will be worth it to take a passenger seat and learn how to handle myself on the 80-250 ton equipment. The crew I have been assigned to specializes in direct expansion(DX) evaporator installs mostly new construction. I still wont be getting the refrigeration experience I wanted to learn about but this looks like its worth getting out of bed for. Now I have to go out and buy a 4 way manifold a real tubing bender and a good meg-ohmmeter not the crappy supco version(not knocking the ol supco that has served me well on the single phase residential stuff but gotta upgrade). Most certainly the old scratch test doesn't fly anymore. Thanks to everyone for the advice. A positive attitude really was all it took to get in. What I lack in knowledge now I will more than make up for with the combination of experience and apprenticeship. I feel like Im only a few years away from becoming the kind of tech I dreamed about being when I got my 608 three years ago.

  11. Likes mike3 liked this post
  12. #9
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    Jul 2012
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    WA
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    Congrats!

  13. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    Southold, NY
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    Congrats.

  14. #11
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    Jun 2014
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    Dover, DE
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    Congratulations, enjoy the experience of something new and exciting. Soak up all you can.
    I havent failed. Ive just found 10,000 ways that wont work. - Thomas Edison

    Its not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up. - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

  15. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Dover, DE
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Man View Post
    I’ve seen food not get thrown out when the walk in hit 65
    One Chinese place put buckets of ice in their W/I freezer when it failed thinking it would hold temp while they figured out how to fix it.
    It was 75* in the freezer by the time they called and I showed up. And found that the compressor had a hole blown in the side from a massive internal failure.
    They wanted repairs quoted.
    They were open and serving food out of that box the whole time.
    I havent failed. Ive just found 10,000 ways that wont work. - Thomas Edison

    Its not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up. - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

  16. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Sea to Sky
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    Quote Originally Posted by rider77 View Post
    One Chinese place put buckets of ice in their W/I freezer when it failed thinking it would hold temp while they figured out how to fix it.
    It was 75* in the freezer by the time they called and I showed up. And found that the compressor had a hole blown in the side from a massive internal failure.
    They wanted repairs quoted.
    They were open and serving food out of that box the whole time.
    Par for the course unfortunately.

    Sent from my SM-N910W8 using Tapatalk

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