Learning Lessons From a CoolSys Service Tech and Master of Metal
You know Iron Man. Now it’s time to meet “Metal Master,” otherwise known as Paul Peterson. For his entire career — 52 years — Paul has done everything that can be done with sheet metal. He has spent the past eight of those years as a Service Tech-Specialty for CoolSys (previously Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Inc.) and one of the only master metalworkers on the East Coast.
Working out of the Ft. Myers branch in southern Florida, Paul services grocery stores like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Publix Super Markets, as well as a variety of other businesses. “Most grocery stores have seven to 13 coolers and freezers in the back of the store, and I’m responsible for the sheet metal in all of them,” he says. He also builds doorframes; lays down aluminum flooring; welds sinks for deli, meat and produce sections; makes repairs; and handles dozens of other types of metalwork projects.
Turning a Potential Negative Into a Positive
When he was 44 years old, Paul learned he has severe attention deficit disorder (ADD). “I have abstract thoughts, and I have to turn them into linear thoughts,” he says. “When I start a job, I have to go from A to Z in straight line.” But instead of letting his diagnosis drag him down, Paul saw the silver lining and uses it as an advantage. “Forcing myself to think that way has made me an excellent trainer for young people,” he says. “I tell them, ‘Until you learn to do the job, do it this way with me. Then when you learn it, you can do it any way you want.’”
Paul is a big advocate for job safety, and he makes sure his young colleagues develop good habits early on. “We have safety meetings at the beginning of every job in the field, and we watch out for each other,” he says, adding that he always brings along an extra supply of safety glasses. He also makes sure they understand the importance of customer service and customer engagement. “There’s a saying that you have only one chance to make a good first impression,” Paul says. “In our work, I believe you have a chance to make a good first impression every day.”
Making the Grade
Having worked all across the country for companies large and small, Paul considers himself a good judge of workplace quality — and he gives CoolSys the highest possible marks. “CoolSys is the best game going in the U.S.” he asserts. “They really care about what is going on with us, and there is mutual respect between management and employees. They listen to us, and everyone is approachable.” That employee focus, Paul says, helps CoolSys recruit and retain the most talented people in the industry. “When potential employees know they’re coming into a company that respects what they think, you’re going to get a higher quality of person,” he says.
Paul has some advice for young people who are thinking about a career in HVAC-R: “Go online and check it out to see if this is really what you want to do,” he says. “Make a list of the pluses and minuses for you. If you end up with more checkmarks in the ‘good’ column, go to a reputable school to get the basics then get into a respectable company — hopefully, CoolSys.”
As he gets older, Paul says, he’s increasingly grateful for his CoolSys co-workers in Ft. Myers. “There have been times I’ve been on a roof and need a hand to get down,” he recalls. “There’s not one guy who calls me to help — there are 10 guys who call. These guys watch out for me like I watch out for them. It’s not because we’re just a team. It’s because we’re a family.”