To give you insight into the different companies that recruit RSI graduates, we have created these Employer Connection interviews. This month we spoke with Tricia Schmidt, Recruiter with TDIndustries in Tempe, Arizona.
Thanks for your time, Tricia. Before we start, please tell us a little about you.
I started with TDIndustries (TD) in March 2017. I was new to the construction industry, having retired after 30 years in commercial aviation. Having to reinvent myself, I obtained a certification in HR and applied for this opportunity. Many aspects of my previous career included HR, so that’s what led me to continue in this direction with my certification.
Please give us a brief overview of TDIndustries.
We were founded in 1946 in Dallas, TX, as a family air conditioning company. We’ve grown into an employee-owned commercial mechanical construction and facilities subcontractor with 2,600 Partners (what TD calls employees). We have six locations in Texas and we started in Arizona in 2003 with the Cardinals stadium. We performed the mechanical construction, including HVAC and plumbing. This amazing, exciting project allowed us to create our footprint in the Valley. We have grown to 260 Partners in Phoenix.
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What services do you offer in Arizona?
We provide HVAC, refrigeration, plumbing, piping, and general maintenance services across Arizona. We win bids through reputation and relationships; we don’t advertise. We have work slated out through 2021 and beyond, which is why we have the continual need to bring new Partners onboard. We have three business units here in Phoenix:
1) New Construction, which is ground-up employing all three trades – sheet metal, plumbing and piping.
2) Special Projects, which is expansions and improvements to existing buildings, predominantly data centers and hospitals.
3) On the Service side, we service the systems we install and other customers and their planned maintenance needs.
How long has the relationship with RSI been in place, and what graduates are you looking for?
Since 2015. We are interested in HVAC/R grads to come on as service technicians to support our service department. However, with the introduction of the Welding school within RSI, we also hire pipefitter and welders to work on the new construction/special projects side of the business.
How do you meet RSI graduates?
My first TD event was attending an RSI career fair! That’s our opportunity to meet the students and share our company with them. I attend the quarterly career fairs without fail; I have service managers join me, as they are technical specialists. I also participate on both RSI Advisory Boards.
Do you attend career fairs even if you’re not hiring at that time?
My first year we weren’t hiring, we were stable with our needs. However, I still attended each RSI career fair as we wanted students to be aware of us as a preferred employer for the future. We like students to be aware of our culture, our benefits, and the way we work in case we partner in the future.
You mention partner, rather than employee?
When I say partner, we are unique. We are 100% employee-owned. All partners own a portion of the company if we take the opportunity to be part of the employee stock option program (ESOP). That’s in addition to the 401(k) program, all exciting pieces of the total compensation at TD.
How many RSI grads have your brought on?
We have recruited eight HVAC/R grads, plus a welder who started this past Monday. Our welding graduate is a female veteran, and we’re really excited about her joining us because TD is very committed to diversity.
What experience level do you hire?
All levels. A lot of résumés are similar. However, if you come from RSI with existing experience, that sets you apart! An RSI graduate with prior experience can often come on as a level one technician, as opposed to coming on as an apprentice. There are also times when we hire more experienced level three or level four techs. Those are positions where we need more years of experience. By planting the seeds early and by having the connection to RSI, the Career Services team can reach out to their experienced alumni with those opportunities as they arise.
Share a recent hire with us.
We just had an entry level business development manager (BDM) position become open in service. This role is all about initiating service agreements with companies and growing our business. I reconnected with an RSI student who graduated at the top of his class. When I met with him at a career fair some months earlier, he had expressed how excited he was about the sales side of the business. His father is an entrepreneur, so he grew up with that background.
He graduated RSI in January 2019 and was working with another company. However, I remembered our conversation and reached out with this opportunity. He was terribly excited. He applied and started with us this month. His income has grown exponentially because of the position he is in. He is currently in training, and I know he is going to be amazing at it.
What makes RSI graduates stand out when you are looking to recruit?
The instructors do a really good job developing their students. RSI is committed to molding great candidates, meaning it’s not just about your skill set; it’s the way you present yourself, including résumé and soft skills, the total package. RSI students consistently interview and present well. I’ll be honest, we are looking for someone who is passionate, hungry for the next step in their career, excited that they’ve graduated. We don’t always have entry-level positions, but when we do, I always know who I will contact at RSI based on that excitement they exhibit when I meet them.
What kind of qualities do you notice in the RSI graduates who go to work for you?
They are professional; they are conscientious of the way they present themselves to our customers. Skill set-wise, they have a solid foundation for us to build on.
Does the hands-on practice that students get at RSI give them an advantage?
Definitely. It is preferred and essential. It gives them confidence. It helps them validate their skill set. Welders, for example, know that if they have successfully completed a 6G weld, that confidence helps them obtain certification with us.
Does TDIndustries have a formal training program?
I’ll speak to the HVAC technician part of it. Day one is orientation, a general introduction to the company and benefits. They then have a day and a half of safety and a driving test. Then there is the shadowing, where they are introduced to how TD does what we do. Eventually, they will have their own vehicle. The timeline for that shadowing process is based on how quickly the candidate picks things up. It could be two months to two years. We also offer continual training with additional certifications and new technology training. All apprentices receive NCCER Journeyman certification through Arizona Builders Alliance (ABA).
Do you have graduates who have stayed at your company and moved up through the ranks?
We do. Greg is our dispatcher, and Donny is a facilities technician responsible for overall customer satisfaction with HVAC/plumbing system operation at a condominium complex. We also have several other techs who started at apprentice level. They are now primary technicians responsible for substantial service accounts.
What advice do you have for students to be successful at RSI, and to have a chance of getting hired on at a company like TDIndustries?
There is so much opportunity out there right now. The folks choosing RSI have chosen an excellent career path to follow. It’s fantastic because construction in Arizona is huge right now. The skill set you’re learning is needed and will continue to be needed. We strive to be a key influencer in the skilled trades area, and we love partnering with RSI.
We appreciate those who choose to invest in themselves, so make the most of your education, obtain as much hands-on training as you can, and gain as much understanding as you can. Connect with your instructors. Go to the career fairs and connect with us, go to interviews and get that experience. You need the technical knowledge to be able to converse about it, but you also need to be hungry, energetic and excited.
Take pride in your work and be humble. Dependability is a huge factor. Show up to work early, be prepared, and be willing to continue to learn and progress. When it comes to getting onboard, TD is definitely a career destination. We are not just a job. We are a way of life. We want our employees to ultimately retire with us, to contribute to our culture. That’s what we strive for.
Where can students or graduates go to learn more?
Come see us at the next RSI career fair, or go to our website and create a profile on our website. Let us know who you are and what your interests are, whether it’s service on the HVAC/Refrigeration side or welding on the construction side. Just reach out and start the relationship. You can also search for open positions on our website. We are currently hiring! Even if we are not hiring for a position you may be seeking, at the very minimum, create a profile so automated alerts can be sent to you and we can reach out!