Over the past few months, we’ve taken an inside look at how the NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winners have adapted to our constantly changing industry. For developing a goal-oriented technician training program, Hillman AV Inc. was named an NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winner in the Talent Development category.
Too many integration professionals “just end up” here, but careers in our industry can be a lot more than just a job. Hillman AV Inc. created a training program intended to get young employees excited about career possibilities.
Jarrod Hillman, president and owner of Hillman AV Inc., can relate to the countless young professionals who begin careers in the integration industry … and then slowly drift away. Many of those who remain just sort of end up here. That scenario doesn’t illustrate a compelling career path toward a dream job.
“I’ve been talking for quite a few years about the concept of people just ending up in the industry,” Hillman says. “I’m fairly young myself, and I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming an AV technician or president.”
Since Hillman finds himself in that leadership position, he sought to create goal-oriented career paths for his team. There are “dream jobs” in the integration market – and at Hillman AV.
It starts with recognizing that those who “just end up” in the industry may lack direction or purpose, so Hillman AV put together a comprehensive training plan specifically for field technicians. “We designed it similarly to an apprenticeship format that is completed over a number of years, with pay and responsibility increasing as each milestone and level is reached,” Hillman says.
Career structure is a critical element. The problem? “There is typically no route” in the integration market, Hillman says. Electricians, he points out, often go through apprenticeship programs, doing so with an end goal in mind. Young professionals often lack that groundwork.
“They get the job, they make the money, and then they find something they think is better because it seems to give them a bit more purpose,” he says. “That’s why this industry probably has retention problems.”
Jesse Wintonyk, project manager for Hillman AV, told the 2020 Business & Leadership Conference crowd that one aspect separating the apprenticeship program is the fact that it goes beyond integration. “They start as green installers and get micro credentials through AVIXA,” he says; however, they also study things like ladder safety and first aid.
Hillman AV’s program is personalized. Booklets are made for each technician, designed to provide individualized motivation. “Inside, we compiled a list of industry sessions – online, in-person, and on-the-job training styles,” Hillman says.
“This has given our technicians a sense of direction and achievement as they make their way through the process. To align the business with this, we look at growth as an opportunity to elevate each of our employees in sync with the growth of the company. This generated a team effort and understanding of why achieving milestones and targets were not just financially beneficial, but also personally beneficial to individual growth.”
Learn More: 2020 Excellence in Business Award Winners
Read about how our other 2020 NSCA Excellence in Business award winners made business changes to adapt to our constantly changing industry: