Fairfax, Va. — Husband and wife team Rick and Kelly Martinez had been kicking around the idea of opening their own air conditioning and heating service shop for a few years but could never gather enough information to feel comfortable making the leap. In December, the International Training Institute’s (ITI) Service Manager Course came to Butte, Mont., and although it was an eight-hour drive in the snow from Martinez’s home in Casper, Wyo., he made the trip.
And it’s one he’ll never regret.
“I’ve been on both sides of the fence – dealing with customers and employees as a foreman, former business representative, executive board member, training coordinator and instructor for Local #103. There were things I had under my belt, but there were things that were lacking,” said Martinez, who has been a unionized sheet metal worker for about 30 years. “It can turn into a nightmare starting your own business. It’s intimidating, don’t get me wrong. But these were some tough decisions, the instructor told us, that we would have to deal with. The things you have to plan for, the things you don’t think about.”
The Service Manager Course is a five-day, 40-hour course derived from a mix of ITI’s Business 101 course and instructor Darrell Garrison’s personal experience as a seasoned service manager. The course covers everything from creating a business name to hiring personnel with a dose of reality and a bit of encouragement thrown in for good measure.
The first course was held in Las Vegas in June 2012, and it has been hosted at a handful of sheet metal training centers ever since to positive reviews. Martinez is the first to open his shop because of what he learned during the course.
Where Martinez had the motivation, it wasn’t enough to get him started. The course provided vital processes he needed to know to launch Home Environment Solutions LLC, which officially opened in Casper March 1.
“Just the amount of information I got was well worth the class,” Martinez said. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through [opening your own business], and the scariest part is making sure you’ve jumped through them enough.”
For more information about ITI, visit www.sheetmetal-iti.org.