Training facility focuses on radiant skills

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR SPRINGFIELD, MO. Watts Radiant announced plans to rev up its contractor training sessions that it is dubbing "Warm U." The company opened a new training facility less than a year ago here. Watts expects to train hundreds of contractors and reps in its new training facility in 2007. Watts has been using the facility to train wholesalers and manufacturers reps. At a recent training

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — Watts Radiant announced plans to rev up its contractor training sessions that it is dubbing "Warm U." The company opened a new training facility less than a year ago here.

Watts expects to train hundreds of contractors and reps in its new training facility in 2007. Watts has been using the facility to train wholesalers and manufacturers reps.

At a recent training session, Dave Yates, president of York, Pa.-based F. W. Behler Inc. and CONTRACTOR's plumbing columnist, and Dan Foley, president of Foley Mechanical Inc., Alexandria, Va., and former president of the Radiant Panel Association, were among the trainers at Watts' new "Hand-On House" training facility. The new space is a 2,000-sq.-ft., two-story area developed specifically for live training and instructional video production. The Hands-On House exists within the manufacturer's 143,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing and office facility.

Yates said the opportunity was educational for him and he learned much from the 30 wholesalers, manufacturers reps and Watts employees he was teaching. Watts likes to send its employees to the schools too, he noted. Yates had the opportunity to make presentations to the wholesalers and reps on why contractors do what they do, and the suppliers gave him a feel for their concerns as well.

Yates said that he and Foley conducted a joint session on estimating, bidding, challenges they face with customers, designs of radiant systems and problems they face with some supply houses that have inside personnel doing system designs who don't know how to correctly perform heat-loss calculations.

"It's a world-class training center, with floor, ceiling and wall spaces set up specifically for hands-on radiant heat installations in all types of configurations, both with hydronic and electric radiant heat," Yates said.

Foley said that the majority of his presentation was on how to get a job at the price you want. He added that he was impressed by the plant tour, especially the PEX extrusion operation and the loom that weaves electric heating elements into radiant heating mats.

"What I especially like about the training at Watts Radiant is the encouragement for participants to improve their overall knowledge of everything in the industry," Foley said. "Students learn new techniques and applications, a wealth of information about how to size and design systems, and all within the context of truly enjoyable, informal training that ultimately enhances the overall professionalism of the trade."

General Manager Mike Chiles noted: "Our new facility is the culmination of several years' effort. It took years of planning to make it exactly what we need to meet and exceed customer needs, and to grow the business. The training facility will soon serve its full potential."

"We offer a unique training session, geared towards the novice radiant installer as well as a seasoned professional," engineer and trainer Kolyn Marshall said. "Class schedules cover everything from radiant basics to product details to applications and installations."

Eight training sessions are set to take place during the first half of next year. In the spring, Watts Radiant will schedule seminars for the third and fourth quarters. The 2007 Watts Radiant factory seminar schedule now includes classes during the weeks of March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17, May 1 and 15, and June 5 and 19. Contractors interested in joining a seminar should contact their local Watts Radiant wholesaler or representative, Marshall said.

In addition to manufacturing, Watts Radiant distributes related products from Watts affiliates in North America, Europe and Asia.

Springfield is also headquarters of Bass Pro Shops. In what may have been the most fun part of the trip, Watts dropped attendees off at the Bass store, Yates said, and the store is so big it took him three hours to walk through it.