For over 47 years, Barron Heating has provided excellent installation and repair service of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to homes and businesses throughout Northwest Washington.
The company that began in 1972 with Bellingham’s Dan Barron has now grown to service commercial and residential properties across Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan Counties. In addition to HVAC, Barron now offers a full range of electrical and plumbing services. For its customers, this means even more opportunity to utilize the company’s top-notch service from licensed technicians. For its employees, it means more opportunities for a fulfilling and financially secure career.
About 8 months ago, Barron Heating launched an in-house technician school. Brad Barron, director of operations at Barron and son of current owner John Barron, says the growing demand for field technicians led the company to take training into its own hands.
“We wanted a way to encourage people to step into a career that could provide a great family wage and an opportunity to advance in a company that was local,” he says.
Barron Technician School takes the traditional trade apprenticeship and enhances it through lab and course work. Accepted job candidates are brought on-board with the company’s HVAC and refrigeration program, and paid the apprentice wage of $16 an hour. They’re assigned a journeyman to work with in the field, and spend time taking the school’s 12 different core classes while also completing up to 50 labs at Barron’s Ferndale campus. There’s no tuition, and candidates are paid for classroom, lab and on-the-job training.
In addition to technical schooling, Barron has expanded its electrical and plumbing programs. Two-and-a-half years ago, the company had just two licensed electricians. Today, it has five, to go along with three licensed plumbers and a number of apprentices.
In their electrical department, solar energy is also growing by leaps and bounds. Started up over the past year, “Solar by Barron” allowed the company’s installation teams to cross-train, learning how to install solar panels. Teams have already finished numerous residential and commercial solar panel jobs across the counties Barron serves. The company itself is also using solar energy; its main warehouse has a 375-panel solar system that provides a year’s worth of electrical power.
“It’s an investment in training and an investment in growing those different avenues of electrical and plumbing, because customers have asked for it,” says Brad. “They’ve trusted us as their HVAC provider for 47 years, and they wanted an opportunity to work with us on electrical and plumbing projects. The green energy side of things has really taken off. I think it’s a really great opportunity in the Northwest to be stewards of the environment.”
Barron’s growth has provided its employees the chance to do a more diverse range of technical work. Barron Heating’s “Air Solutions” department, for instance, focuses on indoor air quality. It handles sealing duct work, weatherization of attics and crawl spaces, and taking care of allergy and dust challenges, among other tasks.
Regardless of what kind of work an employee wants to focus on, Brad says Barron Heating’s growth in trade-based work proves a great career is still possible without a university diploma.
“Some of our top wage earners here at Barron, when you look at their total compensation, are easily in the six figures,” he says. “Many people assume that that type of wage is associated with a four-year college degree, but we have amazing technicians—both male and female—who are able to provide for their families and earn a great living while working for a local company that allows them to grow in their career.”
At a time when some trades are losing skilled baby-boomer technicians to retirement and are looking to fill those jobs with increasing numbers of millennial-aged workers, the opportunities for hungry, humble and people-smart employees are immense. And at Barron Heating, it’s no different.
“We believe in the trades,” Brad says. “There are some really great opportunities for folks who don’t want to go the traditional college route. They can come away with zero college debt, get paid while learning, and advance to dozens of leadership positions within the company. And that’s very exciting.”