More often than not, especially in the plumbing, heating & mechanical industries, you come across people that make a difference in people’s lives and the industry in which they work. Mechanical Hub’s John Mesenbrink recently caught up with Alan Mercurio, technical training supervisor at Kosco, Saugerties, N.Y., and host and owner of www.oiltechtalk.com. Alan Mercurio is definitely a name you should know in this industry. The following is Alan in his own words:
MH: How did you get involved in the industry?
AM: The short answer to this is my daughter Toni. Before I started working in this industry, I was a baker at a Mister Donut store in Danville, Pa. That was more than 20+ years ago. I was pretty happy with what I was doing but one day I found out I would soon receive one of the Lord’s greatest blessings, a child. Yep I was going to become a dad. I knew the money I was earning was good but I knew it would take more than what I was making to support a child. That’s when a good friend told me about this oil company in the area that was offering on-the-job training, good money and benefits. These were the things I knew I would need. But I had no clue as to what any of this would entail, and to be honest, the money and the benefits were the reason I was willing to try.
That changed very soon after I started working for this company, however. I realized that this was a very serious job and that the people I helped were really counting on me. I remember the first time I discovered the trouble with a system and repaired it. I felt so proud. It was a great feeling to go upstairs and tell the family that they would be warm now. I soon realized that this job meant more to me than just a pay check at the end of the week. I knew I had to dedicate as much time as possible to learn about this industry. I had to take courses, read books and keep an open mind when talking with others in this industry.
Today I can say I have learned a lot of things, but as the host and owner of www.OilTechTalk.com the most important thing of all that I’ve learned is that learning never stops. And today, with the “Information Superhighway,” the time you can spend learning seems endless. I guess I am telling you all this because I want you and others to know that if you really put your heart into what you want to do you can do anything. Getting back to the short answer to your question, I chose this industry because of my daughter, Toni M. Mercurio.
Describe Oil Tech Talk for those who aren’t familiar with it.
AM: Oil Tech Talk is a knowledge-sharing community where, thanks to Internet professionals, students (by the way we’re all students) and consumers come together from around the world to ask and answer questions as they relate to the trade and to take part in sharing knowledge and educating one another. This really brings great joy to my heart. The other thing that brings great joy to my heart is seeing how members of Oil Tech Talk’s community often come to share on a more personal level, sometimes it may just be talking sports or about vacation plans or more importantly coming to ask for prayers for a friend or a loved one. Many times, over the years, I have witnessed the members of this community come together to help those in need. I consider it a true blessing and privilege to host www.oiltechtalk.com.
MH: Your dedication to the industry, and dedication to teaching those entering the trades is admirable. How satisfying is it to you knowing that you are guiding these folks on the right path?
AM: Thank you for your kind words, John! I truly appreciate that. It’s very satisfying and a true privilege to share knowledge and educate others and guide them down that right path. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of educating thousands of technicians and students seeking to be a technician. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing many of them have their career as a professional technician come to fruition. Equally as satisfying I have found as long as I have kept an open mind and open heart I too have gained knowledge from these students and fellow technicians which I believe has lead and continues to lead me down the right path in my life. Talk about a win-win!
MH: How can the industry as a whole do a better job recruiting young, skilled tradespeople?
AM: This is a great question John, and it’s something we as an industry really need to stay focused on and engaged in. One of the best things we can do is to get involved with our local vocational trade schools, and I mean really get involved! Establish a relationship with the schools and their students. Take a leading role in getting them the tools, equipment and educational materials they need and also assist them in creating the criteria for training these future tradesmen and women. This is something a number of us within the OESP (formally NAOHSM) organization have been doing for more than 10 years now and it has proven to be very successful. I encourage my fellow trade professionals to adopt a vocational school its fun and very rewarding.
One other thing, John. Companies within the industry also need to be willing to hire these younger folks as they enter the trade and be prepared to provide them with continued education. This is something that I, as an industry consultant, offer as a service to companies within our industry. I create and provide in-house programs that develop employees to be professional, proficient and skillfully successful. It’s their success that ads to and compliments the success of the company. It’s awesome to be a part of that!
MH: Describe the benefits of being in the plumbing & heating trade. (People, quality of life, artisanship, etc.)
AM: Well, to start with, the plumbing & heating trade is a trade that has been in demand for a long time and will remain so for a long time to come, in my humble opinion. In today’s slowing economy, this is promising for those of us in this trade.
For me, people, quality of life and artisanship in this trade are three things we as professionals can fold together. When we as professionals bring true artisanship to the work we perform, it has a direct relationship and impact in the quality of life on the people the work is being performed for and the people performing the work. It doesn’t get much better than that John.
MH: What is your involvement with OESP? How long have you been associated with OESP?
AM: I’m very proud to say that my involvement is being a member that is also a part of OESP’s Education Committee. I’m privileged to be close friends and work with some of the most passionate dedicated professionals within our industry! I’ve been a part of this association for more than 15 years. I must mention, John: though there are some that would think that’s a long time, there are a number of members that have been a part of the association for more 40+ years I think that speaks highly of our association and the dedication of its members! I’m so honored to be able to call them my friends.
MH: What are some of your hobbies you enjoy in your spare time?
AM: What is this thing you call “spare time”? I’m just kidding. In my younger days I’d say my hobbies were shooting at the pistol range and kick boxing. Nowadays, when I have time, I like to go for a walk, hang out on my back deck reading, praying or just taking in the sights and sounds of nature, or go sit by the river to do the same.
MH: The last time you said, “today is a great day,” you were doing what?
AM: You know the first thing that came to my mind when you asked this question was, I was in the delivery room witnessing my amazing daughter come into this world! I’m almost certain I said “Today is a great day” or at least I was certainly thinking that. Interestingly enough, though, to answer your question more directly as it relates to the last time I said that, it was January 28, 2013 at around 3:00 a.m. My son-in-law called to announce the arrival of my grandson, Jace! That was, and always will be, a great day!!