Sole Education Spring 2020: Looking Back

If you had the opportunity to start again in your career, would you? What about with decisions you made early on in your life? Knowing what you know now, is there anything you’d change?

We asked Tod the same question, with the intention of giving a different perspective to those just starting out in the field. Check out what he has to say!

Looking Back

I wish I knew years ago how much I enjoy the hands-on experience of being an HVAC-R tech. I have had the opportunity over my career to have a lot of exposure to small and large equipment repairs. When I was a store manager for McDonald’s back in the day, I tried to fix everything I could before calling a service company. In fact, I remember in our management development program we had a training film that depicted the “local” service tech pulling up in a shiny new truck, with gold chains around his neck and a big shiny watch on his wrist. In the training video, he walked in the back door, put a new plug on a toaster, flipped the breaker and left a bill for $135. It was hilarious, of a lot of our training films back then would make you laugh now, (but remember it was 40 years ago). The point being that we were budgeted a skinny 1.5% of our monthly sales towards equipment maintenance and repairs so in order to make budget I got pretty good at fixing my own stuff.

I learned to fix things like:

  • Changing belts on exhaust fans

    Sole Education Spring 2020 - Looking Back
    If I could have focused on equipment service back at the beginning of my career, I could have bypassed the 70-75-hour work weeks I trudged through most of my life in the restaurant industry.
  • Greasing exhaust motor bearings
  • Changing fryer Hi limits, gas valves, andbaffles
  • Replacing toaster thermostats
  • Changing the electrical cords on bun toasters, replacing muffintoaster heating elements,
  • Cleaning out plugged steam ports on bun steamers and more!

I got better at repairs and after a few years, I was to the point where I was replacing parts before they broke! Sort of an early PM program for small equipment. In fact, later in my career with another fast-food company, I had graduated to changing out complete fryer kettles (it was an overnight job that took two people) on 50lb flat-bottom Dean fryers. Even though I was at that time an area supervisor, we still watched the repair costs in our restaurants very closely.

I guess looking back, I was able to learn those skills on my own because I enjoyed it. Like they say, “do what you love doing and it won’t feel like work”. So now here I am, right in the middle of year one, just starting my second semester. I think, wow…If I could have just focused on equipment service back at the beginning of my career, I could have bypassed the 70-75-hour work weeks I trudged through most of my life in the restaurant industry. I could have had normal hours with typical days off, and if I worked a night or a weekend, I would have been well compensated for it with over-time pay. I was 56 years old the first time I had a job with weekends off! You can’t rewrite the past, but if someone would have gotten me involved in the HVAC-R field during my high school days, I think I would have jumped on the chance to make it a career. But now, having all that experience in my past career is helping me, especially in lab work where a lot of my experience transfers over to the HVAC-R field.

Looking forward I can tell you, there is a great career for me just around the corner!

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.

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