Thursday, July 30, 2015

Send Superman Over to Fix my Unit

I have noticed something that is happening now in many companies - employees are often asked to be superhuman because of the amount of work to be done and the chronic short handed situation many companies find themselves in. This can lead to looking the other way as employees do things they should not do while trying to do the impossible. I had a recent graduate complain that the company he worked for scheduled him to do an installation by himself which he did not complete until 11:30 PM. He did not even get to the job until after his normal scheduled quitting time. He had a company meeting at 7:00 AM the next morning, which he made. However, in the 7.5 hours between completing the job and returning to work he had to get home, sleep, and return to work. His truck still had the old equipment in it from the night before. He was reprimanded for having a messy truck - a violation of company policy. In my mind, the problem started when he was scheduled to do the impossible. I have heard more than one story like this. Another student told me his wife went from asking when he was going to get a job to asking when he was coming home. Upon graduating, he had responsibility for the large rack refrigeration systems in 15 grocery stores spread across 2 states. He was not left entirely on his own – they gave him a cell phone. Trying to service these far flung, complicated systems which he was just learning about had led to 60 and 70 hour weeks. Students are glad to have the job, but they are often covered up in work before they even have a year in the field. When they demonstrate that they can perform, they are rewarded with more work. I believe as an industry we need to allow new techs a bit of breathing room and time to develop into the techs we want them to be. That means we have to still provide time for education and training, time to sleep, and time to de-compress a bit. The fact that so much responsibility is being shouldered by brand new techs shows our great need. This provides opportunity for people who are looking for a rewarding career which provides the income needed for a good standard of living.  The danger we face in pushing the most promising too hard is that we could literally run our best new prospects out of the trade.  


  1. Hey Carter,

    Nothing has changed in the 40 years I've been involved in this industry. Your little commentary sounds exactly like my first year as a tech...interesting to note that the supply/demand issues haven't changed forever. Anyone that can perform regardless of their time in the trade are sold out immediately...shows the desperation of the employers and the huge need for qualified techs. In my first year as a tech I was on overtime by Wednesday. It's a sink or swim issue...for those that swim the work just keeps piling on.

  2. Hi Carter,

    Sounds like my first 15 years as a commercial refrigeration tech straight out of school (I worked for a dairy company so everything was perishable). I expect the situation will only get worse in the coming years with the aging out of most of the current workforce. Now, as a Community College Chair I have seen my role switch from primarily teaching to primarily administrative duties. So, all these years later I am still working nights, weekends, and holidays trying to meet bureaucratic deadlines for paperwork. I am sure you can relate. Take care my friend and keep up the good work! Billy Mozingo

  3. although I do agree with this, I must say that for an individual such as myself, I wish I were fortunate to be in a position such as these new techs. Since school has finished and I have had interview after interview, unfortunately my honesty about felony convictions for fighting almost a decade ago has prevented me from being able to begin my career in the field.