Training at San Jacinto College helps entrepreneur to expand AC business
09.18.2015 | By Rob Vanya
Bryan Spears is expanding his air conditioning service business thanks to training he received at San Jacinto College. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
Demand for HVACR technicians is always high
Entrepreneurial by nature, Bryan Spears launched Solstice Air Conditioning Service with the help of a business partner. He found a pathway to improve and grow the business through the San Jacinto College HVACR program (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration).
“I am handy as a repairman and have been repairing AC units for friends, so as calls kept coming for more work, my partner and I decided it was time to start our own business,” Spears commented. He soon realized he needed professional training in order to keep up with industry trends and developments and ever-changing technology.
“In a matter of months, I earned an HVACR occupational certificate at San Jacinto College, which helped me to be a better technician,” Spears commented. “But my partner and I want to go to the next level, to hire new employees so we can concentrate more on management, marketing, and administration, which will enable us to increase our client base and grow. That’s why I am going farther with my education at San Jacinto College and am working on an HVACR associate degree, which provides training in the business side of the industry. The associate degree program is more advanced and provides networking opportunities and I can tell it will make a huge difference professionally.” He plans to earn his associate degree from San Jacinto College next May.
San Jacinto College offers a wide range of HVACR courses that lead to an associate degree at the North and South campuses. The College also offers non-credit HVACR training for those needing advanced certification through its Continuing and Professional Development division. Daytime and night classes are offered to provide flexible scheduling for working students.
Ben Ficklin, San Jacinto College HVACR instructor, describes HVACR as a high-demand industry that is virtually recession proof. “The Houston area is considered the most air conditioned city in the nation, so the work provides job security because demand for HVACR technicians is always high,” he said. “It’s also one of the few skilled craft trades wherein a person can begin working entry level with only one semester of college training. More college equates to higher earning potential. Another strong selling point for the business is that many of our graduates become independent contractors, which means they are their own boss.”
According to the Texas Workforce Commission Texas CARES website, the job growth potential for HVACR technicians and installers in the greater Houston area is above average. The average income of HVACR technicians and installers in the region for 2013 (the latest available figures) was $20.87 per hour. Ficklin said that experienced HVACR technicians and installers have an opportunity to make at least $100,000 a year, especially those who are self employed.
While demand for AC technicians remains very high in the region, the refrigeration area of the HVACR career field is also experiencing growth. “Because of the two container ports along the Ship Channel, there are a growing number of refrigerated modular containers coming online,” commented San Jacinto College HVACR instructor Jimmy Fairleigh. “As the Panama Canal nears completion and shipping commerce grows, projections are that there will be many more refrigerated containers in the supply chain. That is expected to increase the demand for refrigeration technicians.”
San Jacinto College graduate Carlos Amaya found a rewarding career as a refrigeration technician. He works for a large beverage company, repairing vending machines and coolers in various retail outlets around the region. “The work is never boring, and the scenery is always changing,” he said.
In his job, Amaya receives company benefits, drives a company vehicle, and works traditional business hours from Monday to Friday. Most of the time he works indoors. He hopes to one day become a trainer for his employer, passing on the skills he’s learning to future employees.
“To be successful in this field, you want to be somebody who diagnoses the problem and fixes it rather than just a part-changer,” he commented. “I am persistent. I don’t let a challenge discourage me. I try my best to figure out the right solution.”
Before attending college, Amaya researched several options for careers and training. Personal recommendations and online reviews led him to San Jacinto College, where he was very satisfied with the facilities and education.
“I really enjoyed my time at San Jacinto College, primarily because of the awesome instructors,” the San Jac Certified graduate commented. “I encourage anyone who enjoys working with their hands, and who likes to keep learning to look into an HVACR career.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.