Smart Solutions

Building the Industry Workforce

LAARS Partners with UA & MCAA

LAARS National Training Manager Steve Moruzzi showcases the LAARS NeoTherm® to contractors during an on-site training session. “Technicians get more out of hands-on training than other methods,” said Moruzzi.

LAARS, a Bradford White Company (and a benefactor of MCAA24), is working closely with MCAA and the United Association (UA) toward a shared vision of continuous support for a trained, skilled workforce that is committed to safety, quality, and productivity. LAARS and the UA have established more than 50 advanced water heater and boiler training labs across the United States, with many more in development.

“Training has always been important,” said Raymond Boyd, director of education and training for the UA. “It’s the life’s blood of what we do. And the most important result of training is safety. An educated workforce is a safe workforce.” Safe workers and a safe workplace are prerequisites for the quality and productivity that drive the industry.

Additionally, the industry is evolving. Dustin Bowerman, director of training services for Bradford White, explained, “The technology our products depend on and regulations are constantly in flux, and we all should commit to staying on top of those changes in order to continue meeting the needs of our customers and living up to our partner obligations.”

In Person, Hands On, and Online

Classroom learning is essential to transfer the foundational knowledge and principles of the skilled trades. UA apprentices, for example, experience 216 hours of in-class instruction related to their field. A growing range of online and virtual training options have emerged to supplement traditional in-class and hands-on training. Live online training sessions allow instructors and trainees to connect and interact directly, in real time. These sessions increase efficiency and substantially minimize travel costs. New and emerging tools such as virtual reality and online simulations provide trainees with unprecedented safe and convenient access to new information. Following up virtual training with hands-on practice is essential for fully translating information into actionable skill.

Learn about LAARS Academy, which offers in-person factory and regional training, mobile demos, and videos:

“There’s enormous opportunity for online training, but ultimately there’s nothing like picking up tools and working directly with equipment and material,” said Eric Ortega, training coordinator for UA Local 208 in Denver. “Hands-on, in-person training with real equipment is still the foundation for the apprenticeship model, and I don’t see that ever going away.”

Steve Moruzzi, national training manager for LAARS, added, “Technicians get more out of hands-on training than other methods. They retain far more information when they’re able to physically perform an action once or twice than if they just read it or watch someone else do it.”

Real-World Learning Labs

Learning labs that simulate the real-world environment are ideal for technical training. Bradford White and LAARS subsidized the purchase of equipment for the UA as it expands and enhances its training centers across the United States and Canada to build some of the most advanced training facilities in the world. The cost and access limitations of hands-on training make industry partnerships—such as those Bradford White and LAARS maintain with MCAA, the UA, and other organizations—critical to the well-being and future of the industry. Manufacturers offer a range of training resources and platforms, including equipment, personnel, and expertise.

“We took all the equipment that was available, and then we ordered more,” said John Sullivan of UA Plumbers and Gas-Fitters Local 1 Training Center in New York. “We wanted to make sure we had everything we needed to train the next generation of plumbers. We didn’t want to just set up a showroom where they could look at the equipment while someone tells them how it works. We designed a learning lab where every piece of equipment is fully piped and working, so we can teach someone how to fire it up, how to bring it online, and how to troubleshoot. They get real-world hands-on experience with the equipment they’ll see on the job.”

Sullivan continued, “This kind of training opportunity is essential for the future of our industry. Leveraging our partnership with Bradford White and LAARS has served as a catalyst for something that will have a meaningful impact on our members and their customers for years to come. It’s also strengthened our partnership, which will ensure continuing benefits for all of us in the future.”

A culture of training ensures that proven skills and best practices are passed on. It also ensures that learning is a priority and helps inspire new generations of dedicated, expert workers who will become the future trainers and leaders of the industry.

The UA’s Boyd noted that partnering with Bradford White and LAARS “has been critical in our development of state-of-the-art, world-class training facilities for our members. And that success positions us to envision more ways to leverage our shared strengths in the future.”

For more information, visit MCAA thanks LAARS, a Bradford White Company, for being a benefactor of MCAA24 and providing the convention bag.