Keys to Success – Find a Mentor

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When I started in the field I was a 17 year old helper with one year of tech school under my belt. In other words…. I knew nothing. As I’ve mentioned before there were a few experienced techs who took me under their wings at different stages, but the most influential was a guy named Dave Barefoot. For whatever reason, Dave decided to share everything he knew and he was exceedingly patient with my mistakes, busting my balls all the way.

Even now I call people smarter than myself like Jim Bergmann, Bill Spohn and Jeremy Smith when I can’t get my head around something. You never grow out of benefitting from helpful people to call when you need an extra brain to work on a problem.

Here is a quick tech tip about finding a mentor from a tech I hired at my previous employer and just recently connected with. Grant “Rusty” Hayes is a smart guy and he benefitted from some of the same great mentors I did when I was coming up. Thanks for writing this Rusty.

The greatest asset I have found early on is finding someone who is willing to teach and asking them to mentor you. This may be common knowledge but I’ve found that many techs hoard their knowledge, or don’t have patience enough to help an unlearned tech.

No matter if the person is a co-worker or not, find someone you can call in a pinch and talk to when you don’t understand something.  At the same time cultivate a love for reading especially the installer documents and the material shipped with the units. There is a lot of good information for learning in those documents and will help you learn how that particular system is intended to operate. This will keep you from abusing you mentor with every little thing and you may find you have something valuable to add to the conversation.

Having someone to call to help you without being made to feel your not learning fast enough is valuable and can prevent you from feeling this may not be the profession for you. I would suggest someone who isn’t a co-worker for a mentor only because it will prevent any talk among other techs on something you may never live down if you make a mistake. Trust me, you will make mistakes but never being able to get past the mistake can hinder your confidence and growth. Of all the things I’ve learned, finding someone with a teachers mindset who wants to help others is by far the most valuable tool I’ve used over the years. Don’t lose heart, always learn and grow, in the HVAC profession or whatever you’re doing or want to do. This is the best advice I have for anyone new to the trade or profession. Sometimes the best way to find a mentor is just asking.

Happy 2018

— Grant


  1. The problem today is we are lacking in the department of the mentor system. As you stated in this artical some seem afraid to share their knowledge. I find that counter productive because my feeling is by teaching my fellow upcoming coworkers my job will eventually become easier. I also find that newer techs today fail to take a strong interest in strengthening their knowledge like what you said, picking up an installers guide and reading it cover to cover. Being able to apply hands on skills and understanding why you do them makes you or breaks you. Thanks for this one!

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    Hvac techs do want to learn more the only problem I have is maintenance people don’t want to because Hvac techs make more than them but employers wants the whole package legal or not work on equipment with no liscense and no EPA cards

  3. Avatar CA says:

    This message is an excellent idea for any upcoming service personnel. I would like to add that if you are an experienced technician take notice to this article. It is very important not to be selfish with your knowledge and experience. Make it your objective to help others learn and grow. You will find happiness in seeing their success. Remember that someone mentored you, I know I had a few. This field is always changing and we need more coaches and mentors. They may return the favor by helping you learn something too.

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