On April 20, Watts Water Technologies announced the grand opening of the Watts Works Learning Center, a 12,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art facility where customers, distributors, sales representatives, and others can obtain hands-on experience with the company’s plumbing, HVAC, and water quality products and technologies. The 12,000-square-foot facility includes configurable classrooms, demonstration labs, and working mechanical rooms that showcase Watts products in action.
Based at Watts headquarters in North Andover, MA, the Watts Works Learning Center is the Company’s flagship facility in an enhanced learning program that includes venues at other Watts Americas locations. Through the program, courses in four categories will be offered: pressure regulation & control, HVAC (hydronic and electric), cross-connection control, and temperature regulation & control.
“Our world-class learning facility is just one component in our ongoing investment in our customers,” said Robert J Pagano, Jr., Chief Executive Officer for Watts Water Technologies. “Through the Watts Works learning program, we are providing customers the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge of a broad range of plumbing, HVAC, and water quality products. In our comprehensive classes led by professional instructors and in hands-on demonstration labs, customer will be able to enrich their professional skills.”
“The feedback from our customers help our product development and, in turn, help us serve the market” said Chris Jamieson, VP Marketing & Business Development, Watts Water Technologies.
The proximity to its lead-free foundry in Franklin, N.H. and the city of Boston makes learning center in North Andover ideal. “Watts invested heavily and bet on the American worker,” said Andrew Windsor, Watts VP Sales – Americas.
Here is what Watts executives are talking about the learning center:
Chris Jamieson, VP Marketing & Business Development, Watts Water Technologies
What does the opening of the Learning Center mean for the company, its reps and contractors, especially when it comes to Watts Radiant floor heating products?
“Our new, 12,000-square-foot training facility dramatically changes the nature of our entire headquarters here in North Andover,” said Jamieson. “Everything we sell is here, offered to installing contractors, engineers, and manufacturer reps for in-depth, hands-on training. Of course, there’s classroom training too. Previously, the HQ facility was administration and R&D only. Today, Watts has integrated all facets of our most important functions — from research and design, marketing, sales, and installation training — and everything in between. The center also allows our associates to interact on a more regular basis with our customers to get feedback and ideas.
“For the Watts Radiant product line, both hydronic heating and cooling, and electric radiant heat, it’s all here,” continued Jamieson. “Plumbing and mechanical, and even tile and stone installers, who’re new to our electric radiant heating products, or who may know them well, but seek to refine their installation techniques, can come here to do just that.”
How do you believe the installation education that contractors will receive at the facility will be able to help them and Watts Radiant?
“We believe that every interaction between trade professionals — whether Watts trainers, or executives, and installations pros — can and should be a learning experience,” said Jamieson. “This is especially true when we at Watts meet and interact with installers. I can’t count the number of times that, just through their questions, and insights, we’ve learned something that can improve the way we do business in some significant way.”
“Watts Radiant was one of the very early developers and manufacturers of electric radiant technology, from shielded mats and wire for interior solutions, to durable cable for exterior snow melt,” stated Jamieson. “For decades, we’ve know the technology applications well, and yet every day there’s a new challenge on a jobsite, or a need to help others become familiar with our products and how they’re installed properly. It’s a world of opportunity that we work in, and the new training facility is a big step in the right direction for Watts – enabling us to connect with, teach and learn from installers.”
Approximately how many industry professionals, whether they are contractors, engineers, reps or distributor personnel do you believe will pass through the Learning Center in the coming year? What programs does Watts have for contractors?
Well, the facility is just opening now. Before the year’s out, we expect to have over a hundred trade pros here this year. By next year – with the facility more established in its role for Watts – we’ll hope to double or triple that number.
Peter Parsons, National Product Training Manager, Watts
How is training conducted?
“We offer a mix of hands-on and classroom instruction, with all topics and courses taught by highly qualified professional instructors,” said Parsons. “We’ve geared the facility, and the training, to be very conducive to learning. One of the things we strive most to do is to engage a wide variety of professional attendees with training that’s memorable and effective. We’ve also outfitted our labs so we can simulate real-life jobsite scenarios.”
Who exactly is being trained? What programs does Watts have for contractors?
“For training to be effective, we must be capable of creating broad outreach among a wide variety of allied trade pros – among them, installing contractors, system design engineers, distributors, sales reps, facility engineers and architects,” continued Parsons.
“As for our programs, we offer a wide variety of topics, from hydronic radiant heating, to pressure regulation and control, temperature regulation and control, and electric radiant installation – with many other topics in between,” stated Parsons. “In each category, we’ve developed various levels based on an attendee’s proficiency, or previous training.” These various training programs will be rolled out as we complete the curriculum development process over the next several months.
Jana Letterman, Marketing Manager, HVAC, Watts
What new electric radiant floor products should readers know about?
“There are two key products recently introduced by Watts Radiant: First, there are the newly-improved WarmWire electric floor heating cables which now have an increased constant outside diameter,” said Letterman.
“The cables also are well-suited for use in uncoupling membrane systems designed to secure the heating wire. The wire delivers a 12 Watts/sq. ft. heat output at three-inch spacings. With this change comes a more durable wire offering increased impact and cut resistance ratings.”
“The other product is our new HeatWeave Connect thermostat,” she added. “It’s the most advanced thermostat, with wi-fi capability; it joins our complete line of thermostats. Please check out www.SunTouch.com for more information.
“The SunStat Connect features a programmable touch screen that provides an easy, reliable way to control a floor heating system,” she concluded. “It’s Wi-Fi capability allows users to control floor heating remotely using a mobile app or via the web. The user-intuitive, seven-day schedule makes it simple to program floor heating to suit any lifestyle. The t-stat offers a thin profile with removable, paintable beauty ring, multiple color display options, built-in relay and GFCI, energy use monitoring, home automation tie-in and a three-year warranty.”
What does the new Training center mean to you?
Eddie Van Giesen, National Sales Manager, BRAE Rainwater Harvesting
“As a longtime employee at Watts, I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome of the new training center. It felt like Christmas in April,” commented Van Giesen. “The degree to which attention was paid setting up the Watts valves and other products conveyed a sense of pride that I know will be passed to the future trainees and to anyone who has the opportunity to visit the training center.
“I feel personally that there is no better teaching tool than the one that allows for hands on interaction and participation,” added Van Giesen. “So often our products are behind the wall and are not seen for all that they are – beautiful and elegant in design and function. Having such safe, reliable, durable equipment on display really made me feel proud to work at Watts.”
Mike Breault, Product Manager, Watts Radiant and Hydronic Specialties, Watts Water Technologies
“The Watts Works training center represents to me a significant investment, not only in Watts’ business, but in our customers and consumers businesses as well,” said Breault. “Recognizing the need to provide correct information, methodologies, and best practices eliminates problems, and makes our customers and users better at their craft. Watts has long been known as an industry leader, but one that lacked a truly modern training facility. Today, that is corrected in a spectacular way.”
“The facility is modern, functional and interactive,” he added. “In particular, the radiant and tekmar controls, show not only the correct way to set up and install them, but due to the interactive nature, can demonstrate “what if” scenarios, too. It also showcases the complete solution.
“This training facility visibly and physically demonstrates our commitment to the industry,” concluded Breault.