Solving the skilled labor shortage with hands-on training.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. With the oldest Boomers now 10 years into retirement age, we find ourselves in a perfect storm of circumstances. Starting with a push away from the trades and toward higher education and white-collar jobs over the past 30 years. Now with the shortage of experienced skilled tradespeople and the increasing complexity in process and product, we are staring down a nationwide brain drain.
The Part Works, like so many, have watched several company legends retire over the past ten-plus years. People with multiple decades in plumbing, some with multiple decades at The Part Works. In response, we have taken intentional steps to bolster our knowledge base. This includes:
Grow Your Own
At the end of the day, a certain number of hours in the seat are required to pick up a functional level of knowledge around maintaining plumbing systems. Knowing this, we’ve worked hard to build a pipeline of talented staff and then invested in developing them.
We have deployed a major initiative to transition from a paper-based product catalog, to a digital and web-based product information catalog. We still have an entire room full of manufacturer’s printed and bound catalogs that document plumbing systems over the past century. This is critical for supporting buildings that have been built and changed over a long period. Now, we’ve invested in digitizing this catalog library so we can make it accessible and searchable for staff, which shortens the learning curve for new employees.
People, People, People
From day one, The Part Works has been built around the belief that people are truly the value-added solution for our customers. As a core guiding principle, we value people. In addition to our staff, we cultivate strong relationships with people at the factories and their field teams. We continue to support our individual customers beyond a simple buy/sell transaction. We are still showing up at your location, in person.
Last month, The Part Works launched our second location, in Portland Oregon. In the process of brainstorming what it could be and strategizing our future, it became very clear: Our value is bringing our knowledge base, high-quality customer care, and trusted expertise to our customers. We work hard to find you the best solution to your specific situation.
How can we deliver this value to more customers? Host live training classes for the plumbers and maintenance teams who need to get the job done. Starting June 22, 2022 we will be opening our doors to regular live, training events, hands-on product workshops, new product demonstrations, and other learning opportunities for our customers. At the June 22, event in Portland, we will be hosting Sloan Valve Company for a faucet and flushometer troubleshooting and repair class. Sloan’s factory expert will cover both manual and sensor valve maintenance, a much-needed workshop. Space is limited, tickets are free, so sign up early.
We are very excited about our new Portland training room. Occupying nearly 1/3 of our showroom space, it represents our commitment to education for our customers and our belief in the value of our unique knowledge base for commercial plumbing maintenance materials.
Portland Branch Manager Mike Davenport says, “When we have successful training events, our customers get the opportunity to tour our facility. When they see our unique parts-oriented warehouse and what we have in stock, combined with expert training from the factory, there is a tangible energy and excitement that follows. My team thrives off of this energy because it connects them to our purpose for being in business."
As we continue to develop our training program, we will explore additional options for training events. Some of the ideas we are working to implement are: a digital research kiosk in our Portland branch with access to our vast library of manufacturer’s catalogs, as well as, live and recorded video training for virtual or on-demand customer access.
As our Seattle Branch Manager, Margaret Smith says, “There are many benefits to having regular training events, they increase productivity and engagement internally, and improve company culture.”
Of course, training isn’t just for our customers, these classes will continue to prepare The Part Works employees to better serve our customers. By refreshing our own employee product knowledge, directly from the manufacturer, as well as sneak peeks at new and exciting products coming out, The Part Works will be ahead of the industry. “We see this as a great opportunity” Margaret continued “to get in the room with both our vendors and our customers and build trust. It’s a better way to serve our customers.”
As we face the brain drain in our own facilities and in facility maintenance at large, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. The Part Works is committed to partnering with our customers and our vendors to provide the right knowledge, to prepare your staff and our staff with the right solutions for your facility.