Joshua Perry, 2014 HVAC/R Graduate
Journeyman / HVAC Service Technician at Dead River Company in Maine
After dropping out of high school, I went to work.
I got a third-shift job in a factory, working overnight. It was a pretty good job for a high school drop-out.
I wanted to do something better with my life
When I decided to get my GED, I left the job.
My mom, Joan, graduated from MTTI’s business program during 2006.
She has since turned her education into a great administrative career at the school.
I first thought about attending MTTI’s Automotive Tech program.
I had earned an Auto Collision Repair Certificate before leaving high school. I decided I liked working on cars for myself—not as a career
I had done some sheet metal work in high school.
I felt that I could transition my mechanical and sheet metal skills into the HVAC/R industry.
Pursuing an HVAC/R career made sense to me.
Everyone in this region needs heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. There are so many different areas of HVAC/R—from the simplicity of a woodstove to the complexity of refrigeration used to cool the superconducting magnets in MRI (medical diagnostic) machines.
Excited to learn something new, I started the program during April 2014.
I had just begun dating Katie—who is now my wife. I could imagine myself supporting a family in an HVAC career.
Going back to school felt funny at first—a little like going back to high school.
Unlike high school, I had classmates of all ages. I became good friends with Aristedes, who was about 50 years old.
While high school had not been good for me, MTTI was a really positive school experience.
The whole staff was nice. My classmates were great—everyone was there because they wanted to be in the program.
The classroom atmosphere was always friendly.
If I had a question, I could ask it—no one ridiculed me.
I learned more in the seven-month class at MTTI than I had during my lifetime.
I went back to school to refine my skills and become a professional. I had always been good with my hands and did some work around home. But when you take apart a customer’s oil burner, it has to go back the right way, or it won’t work.
I enjoyed learning about oil in the HVAC/R program.
Oil is big in Rhode Island—so it’s practical to learn about it. Compared with gas and A/C, oil is the oldest technology
Oil equipment is somewhat standard.
It’s pretty easy to look at it and understand how it works.
My classmate, Aristedes, referred me to Wesco Oil Company.
He had two offers of internship. I had a good grasp of oil, so he thought I might want to intern with Wesco. I felt I should work in the area that was most comfortable for me, so Wesco was a good fit.
Interning with Wesco made it pretty easy to transition into full-time employment.
While interning, people I worked with were happy to help me learn. The Service Manager liked me; he talked with the owner who hired me for the season.
Working at Wesco, I finally considered myself a professional.
Wesco was my first job in the field—and my first real job other than working in the factory. At the end of the oil season though, I needed to find another position.
ARE (All Renewable Energy, Inc.) saw my resume online and contacted me.
Located in the Boston area, my starting pay was twice what I had earned in Rhode Island.
My first day on the job with ARE was kind of a shock.
I showed up expecting to be working in someone’s basement. Instead they sent me to a construction site to run refrigeration line sets for an apartment building.
I was doing mostly installations on construction sites.
ARE has big contracts with both large scale residential and light commercial organizations, including apartment buildings and nursing homes. Working with a crew most days gave me the opportunity to learn more.
I liked the company and learned everything they threw at me.
ARE is a company where you get more responsibility—and are rewarded—if you work hard. I was made foreman for a project in New Hampshire. The company gave me a truck while I was foreman for multiple projects, and then a van when I became a dedicated service tech.
Before leaving ARE, I was working on roof top units worth ½ million dollars each.
I was doing mostly low voltage controls. It helped that I had learned electrical basics at MTTI for oil, gas, A/C and refrigeration.
After Katie and I married, we wanted to move to Maine.
I was offered an opportunity in Maine to work for a company that I could buy over time. I wasn’t ready to take that responsibility or to put up the personal capital.
I visited HVAC companies close to Island Falls, where we planned to live.
I was able to choose between two companies that were really interested in me.
The company I chose does oil and propane in five states.
We provide services in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. Much bigger than Wesco, where I first worked, there are over 1100 employees.
At Dead River Company, I’m once again learning a new HVAC technology—propane.
Although similar to natural gas, which I worked with at ARE, propane is not supplied by utility companies. Instead we deliver the propane to the customers.
MTTI gave me all of the basics.
The program teaches the theory and the major components of all the systems—and lays the groundwork for installing, troubleshooting and servicing of them. Even if you don’t know the particular equipment you are asked to install or service, you know the theory about how it works. You can usually figure it out.
The correct terminology and industry jargon I learned at MTTI makes me look professional.
This is important when talking to supply houses or company representatives. I’m able to tell someone exactly what a part is called, so they can understand me.
These days you can’t just walk into a job without training.
College can be a good choice, but you need to have a plan to make it worth the expense. So many people have degrees that aren’t worth what they paid for them—because they can’t get a job.
MTTI is an investment, but you get the knowledge to get a good job.
The careers you go into after school pay well. You can pay off any loan debt in a reasonable amount of time.
The tool bonus I earned at MTTI really helped me get hired and start on the job.
I had never had professional tools to work with before.
I like my job and enjoy what I do for work.
I can see a good future in the HVAC/R industry. I plan to work in HVAC for many years—and to retire from this company.