MH Spotlight: The young, skilled tradesperson: Maria Metzler

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Maria Metzler works at Mr. Plumber by Metzler & Hallam — division of Williams Comfort Air, Carmel, Ind. Her father ran Metzler Plumbing for years, and early on she had always been involved with the company doing tasks anywhere from changing the office cat’s litter box to putting together closet bolt sets to helping count warehouse inventory and sorting scrap metal. When the company was acquired by Williams Comfort Air in 2008, she was offered a position as a plumbing apprentice, and they would put her through school. “I took them up on it and immediately fell in love with the trade!” says Metzler.

Mechanical Hub will be starting to highlight young skilled tradespeople coming up in the trades. They are our future. I recently spoke with Maria about the plumbing trade, and her involvement in it. She is a member of the PHCC, active in its apprenticeship program and competing in last year’s apprenticeship contest. The following is Maria Metzler, in her own words.

MH: What were some of the biggest influencing factors to get you involved with the trade?
Metzler: My dad ran the company for years before, and my grandfather before him. I am really close with my dad and took a lot of pride in following in his — and my grandfather’s —footsteps. Several of my uncles are involved, as well, and I take pride in the positive ways my family and I can help people by being involved in this trade.

MH: In your opinion, how can the industry do a better job getting younger people involved in the trade?
Metzler: I think the best way to do this would be reinforcing the fact that not only can you work and get paid while you are earning your license, but there is also a huge sense of pride involved in the work you do. Plus there is plenty of demand for plumbers; therefore little concern of getting laid off if/when the economy takes a plunge again.

MH: What do you enjoy about the job? Dislikes?
Metzler: I love the contact with the customers! There is nothing like the appreciation that they have when you have completed a job that gives them the use of a toilet or hot water back. There are so many neat people that we meet and help day in and day out. Also, like I said before, there is such an awesome sense of pride that you get when you have worked through the entire process of diagnosing the problem (in service work), coming up with the best solution for the customer, and then using your own two hands to put the plan to action. Heck, sometimes having an excuse to get really muddy or dirty is kind of fun too!

I would say the only thing that I don’t like about the job would be the unpredictability of the hours. We go out on a customer call and we don’t leave until we can make sure they are taken care of —some of our crews have worked all the way through until 2 am. Oh yeah, and maybe the spider webs!

MH:  Briefly describe your work routine.
Metzler: Greatly depends on what we are busiest with at the time. It can be like I said before, diagnose a job, find the best solution and complete the work. We can be in and out of as many as five houses a day if their issues are less severe — or be there for weeks at a time. If we aren’t busy, a lot of time is spent with warranty products or completing customer home maintenance inspections.

MH: How did you get involved with PHCC and Apprenticeship Program?
Metzler: Metzler Plumbing has been involved with the PHCC for years! (Both my dad and grandfather have served as president of the Indiana PHCC and as other members of the board.) I remember going to the annual state convention as a kid to get as many different pens, notepads, and gadgets I could from all the different vendors. The IPHCC works with the state and Mechanical Skills plumbing school, which being a member of the state PHCC, the company automatically enrolls you in the apprenticeship program.

MH: Do you have a favorite tool that you rely on?
Metzler: My “Hercules wrench” as I refer to it. It’s my 14” adjustable wrench; my dad gave it to me for Christmas my first year in the trade and it is still my “go to.”  It’s a little bigger than most guys would need for a good majority of the things I use it for, but quite honestly, I’m not as physically strong as most of the guys. I find this gives me enough leverage to get most things done that I need without marring any of the metal.

MH: What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do while away from the job?
Metzler: I love being outside. I enjoy doing yard work and gardening as well as four-wheeling and fishing. When the weather is bad, I like to read, and, believe it or not, play hide and seek with my five-year-old daughter.

MH: What type of music do you like?
Metzler: I’m really pretty versatile with music, but I guess my default is country.  I like Eric Church, Lifehouse, and Citizen Cope.

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