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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have my first apprentice starting in 2 weeks...my goal is to get him able to do small service work on his own in a year..give him a small van w/tools and let him on his own a few times a week for 3-4 hours at a time....resetting toilets, replacing cartridges, swapping faucets.....is this realistic? or am I pushing things?
 

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I have my first apprentice starting in 2 weeks...my goal is to get him able to do small service work on his own in a year..give him a small van w/tools and let him on his own a few times a week for 3-4 hours at a time....resetting toilets, replacing cartridges, swapping faucets.....is this realistic? or am I pushing things?
It doesn't take a real genius to swap a toilet or replace a cartridge. The most important thing to train a service tech on is cleaning up after himself and not damaging anything.

I'd say for an apprentice you should have them doing calls on their own in 4-5 months.
 
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I should also add, I've had people that I've had work alone with in the first two weeks with very little training. I've also had those who couldn't work by themselves after a year...so it all depends on the person you get and how good of a learner they are.
 
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diplomat
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My plumbers do it all the time with mixed results (generally more involved items than you list). I've had bad luck when they paid the apprentice by the job with the thought that the incentive of making more money by working faster would work. Things were too rushed and mistakes were made. Each apprentive might have their own best way of being motivated, you really have to play it by ear.
 

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The Grand Wazoo
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It would be a code violation here, apprentices can't work unsupervised until they have completed three years of apprenticeship, you might want to check your states code on it.

Is this so you can pay him apprentice wages and bill him as a journeyman, or are you reducing the labor rate for work not done by an actual plumber?
 

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Goin' Down in Flames....
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When I was a Union Electrician, the rules stated that no apprentice could work alone till the 5th year of the apprenticeship. (5 year apprenticeship in the I.B.E.W.)

I know Plumbing and Electrical are different, just somethiing to think about.
 

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Our trades are different, but I don't prefer to have an apprentice alone on a job site at all. It has just never worked out for me in the past. I once trained a helper on painting for 2houses and then had him spray the primer coat on the 3rd by himself. I came back to find primer EVERYWHERE.

I am luck that was my rental house.
 

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Capra Aegagrus
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Apprenticeship has different meanings in different contexts. Aside from any licensing or union issues, I could see sending a new hire out on his own in as little as 1-2 months depending on his capabilities and the complexity of the job.

As always, this is just one of the inherent risk/benefit analyses a business owner has to make.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
It would be a code violation here, apprentices can't work unsupervised until they have completed three years of apprenticeship, you might want to check your states code on it.

Is this so you can pay him apprentice wages and bill him as a journeyman, or are you reducing the labor rate for work not done by an actual plumber?
I cant pay him to stand there while I swap a toilet for 5 years...I cant bill the customer $50 for him to stand their either......so I need to come up with an idea to solve this problem....and the idea is to let me or him do it by themselves.....you are correct that he is not supposed to work unsupervised, but I have also heard he can be supervised over the phone or by me showing up to inspect his work......just like he wouldn't need to be supervised to dig a ditch....I can set him up and let him dig it by himself and show up the next day to lay the sewer.....some things are so simple that supervision is not needed.....trust me I wouldn't let him swap a toilet or replace a cartridge until he is more than ready...I don't want the call back or the lost customer....

its all about finding solutions to make $$....and yes I will most likely charge full scale for his work....most small jobs are flat rate priced anyways....

on those small jobs that he can help me with I plan to charge a heafty markup on his labor to make up for the times when he's sitting there watching me ....im not hiring someone to lose money for 5 years......I don't mind losing while training

I don't think the apprentice can quit....he's stuck with me for 5 years until he becomes a journeyman, then he can quit....I had a horrible apprenticeship....one supervisor was an alcoholic who threw my pay check at me and made me sit in the unheated part of the trailer because I was an apprentice..........believe me if I could have quit I would have....my training was horrible at my first company....I would have left after 4 months of digging and not even touching a pipe......it went on for 1 year until the company went under...I learned nothing for a year
 

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I cant pay him to stand there while I swap a toilet for 5 years...I cant bill the customer $50 for him to stand their either......so I need to come up with an idea to solve this problem....and the idea is to let me or him do it by themselves.....you are correct that he is not supposed to work unsupervised, but I have also heard he can be supervised over the phone or by me showing up to inspect his work......just like he wouldn't need to be supervised to dig a ditch....I can set him up and let him dig it by himself and show up the next day to lay the sewer.....some things are so simple that supervision is not needed.....trust me I wouldn't let him swap a toilet or replace a cartridge until he is more than ready...I don't want the call back or the lost customer....

its all about finding solutions to make $$....and yes I will most likely charge full scale for his work....most small jobs are flat rate priced anyways....

on those small jobs that he can help me with I plan to charge a heafty markup on his labor to make up for the times when he's sitting there watching me ....im not hiring someone to lose money for 5 years......I don't mind losing while training

I don't think the apprentice can quit....he's stuck with me for 5 years until he becomes a journeyman, then he can quit....I had a horrible apprenticeship....one supervisor was an alcoholic who threw my pay check at me and made me sit in the unheated part of the trailer because I was an apprentice..........believe me if I could have quit I would have....my training was horrible at my first company....I would have left after 4 months of digging and not even touching a pipe......it went on for 1 year until the company went under...I learned nothing for a year
You would be surprised how nice it is to have a second set of hands around, even for unloading and loading up the truck, someone to help find where you put your sharpie/pencil, someone to talk to when you are sitting in the corner of a server room on a computer all day.
 

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The Grand Wazoo
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I cant pay him to stand there while I swap a toilet for 5 years...I cant bill the customer $50 for him to stand their either......so I need to come up with an idea to solve this problem....and the idea is to let me or him do it by themselves.....you are correct that he is not supposed to work unsupervised, but I have also heard he can be supervised over the phone or by me showing up to inspect his work......just like he wouldn't need to be supervised to dig a ditch....I can set him up and let him dig it by himself and show up the next day to lay the sewer.....some things are so simple that supervision is not needed.....trust me I wouldn't let him swap a toilet or replace a cartridge until he is more than ready...I don't want the call back or the lost customer....

its all about finding solutions to make $$....and yes I will most likely charge full scale for his work....most small jobs are flat rate priced anyways....

on those small jobs that he can help me with I plan to charge a heafty markup on his labor to make up for the times when he's sitting there watching me ....im not hiring someone to lose money for 5 years......I don't mind losing while training

I don't think the apprentice can quit....he's stuck with me for 5 years until he becomes a journeyman, then he can quit....I had a horrible apprenticeship....one supervisor was an alcoholic who threw my pay check at me and made me sit in the unheated part of the trailer because I was an apprentice..........believe me if I could have quit I would have....my training was horrible at my first company....I would have left after 4 months of digging and not even touching a pipe......it went on for 1 year until the company went under...I learned nothing for a year
If it is a situation where you are not billing a customer until you personally approve his work I see no real problem with it, but I could not ethically charge journeyman rate for work completed by an apprentice that was not allowed to work on his own.

I applaud you for trying to make sure his training is well rounded, as someone that ran new high rise work for a lot of years I used to hate getting a fourth year apprentice that didn't know how to do anything because he was used as a laborer his entire apprenticeship.
 

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huggytree said:
I have my first apprentice starting in 2 weeks...my goal is to get him able to do small service work on his own in a year..give him a small van w/tools and let him on his own a few times a week for 3-4 hours at a time....resetting toilets, replacing cartridges, swapping faucets.....is this realistic? or am I pushing things?
You need a labor guy not apprentice . If you think your not booked every day all year . Don't waste your time and someone else's . Get a friend or a kid to work with you . Once you have more work the you can do . Hire a journeyman and give him the labor guy . You keep up on sales .
 

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I have my first apprentice starting in 2 weeks...my goal is to get him able to do small service work on his own in a year..give him a small van w/tools and let him on his own a few times a week for 3-4 hours at a time....resetting toilets, replacing cartridges, swapping faucets.....is this realistic? or am I pushing things?
Every company is different. Some learn faster than others. Your best bet is to make a list of what you do for plumbing, it could be everything. Toilet repairs, water heaters, drains etc... Make a training list and note what the apprentice has learned and not learned. Theres like 4 or a 5 main categories in plumbing right,, drains for example. How many things are invovled with drains, stoppages, leaks, etc.. This way, when you book calls, you know you personally trained that person on how to do it. What will happen is, your going to ask,,hey do you know how to replace a thermocouple on a 10 year old rheem, the tech will say yes, then realize it's a newer fvir with a sealed chamber. I would prob start on water heater install's. Just because you really have to deal with everything, water, gas, exaust. If the new guy can't muscle around a water heater than you might look for someone that can.
 

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You need a labor guy not apprentice . If you think your not booked every day all year . Don't waste your time and someone else's . Get a friend or a kid to work with you . Once you have more work the you can do . Hire a journeyman and give him the labor guy . You keep up on sales .
I think he has a service business and runs a union shop.
 

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I cant pay him to stand there while I swap a toilet for 5 years...I cant bill the customer $50 for him to stand their either......so I need to come up with an idea to solve this problem....and the idea is to let me or him do it by themselves.....you are correct that he is not supposed to work unsupervised, but I have also heard he can be supervised over the phone or by me showing up to inspect his work......just like he wouldn't need to be supervised to dig a ditch....I can set him up and let him dig it by himself and show up the next day to lay the sewer.....some things are so simple that supervision is not needed.....trust me I wouldn't let him swap a toilet or replace a cartridge until he is more than ready...I don't want the call back or the lost customer....

its all about finding solutions to make $$....and yes I will most likely charge full scale for his work....most small jobs are flat rate priced anyways....

on those small jobs that he can help me with I plan to charge a heafty markup on his labor to make up for the times when he's sitting there watching me ....im not hiring someone to lose money for 5 years......I don't mind losing while training

I don't think the apprentice can quit....he's stuck with me for 5 years until he becomes a journeyman, then he can quit....I had a horrible apprenticeship....one supervisor was an alcoholic who threw my pay check at me and made me sit in the unheated part of the trailer because I was an apprentice..........believe me if I could have quit I would have....my training was horrible at my first company....I would have left after 4 months of digging and not even touching a pipe......it went on for 1 year until the company went under...I learned nothing for a year
Heres an idea, pay him to swap the toilet, and pay yourself to stand there and watch. :clap:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
ive actually canceled the apprentice idea...after 1,600 hours his pension goes up to $10 an hour and health care up to $18.50

id be paying the guy $80k a year with benefits and Taxes

I cant justify that...yea im busy most days...but not that busy that I can just eat $80,000 out of my pocket...it would kill me financially unless I dramatically get more work

ive decided to hire a laborer for $15 part time.....30 hours a week

its perfect.....he cant touch the pipe though....but there's tons of stuff he can do to help me....dig, drill holes, cut 2x4's, run for tools/fittings... yes he will be standing around a lot , but my hope he he can save me 25% on time...I will be able to work continuous while he does all the running around.....on standard jobs like water heater replacement im hoping to save 50%....most of it is grunt work/running up and down stairs.....the actually putting things together is less than 1/2 the work on that task

in WI your not allowed to have a Plumbers Helper.....so there's a grey area here I need to watch out for....I will never have him put pipes together....but can he sit at a chop saw and cut the pipes for me?....there's some grey area's here....and also some inspectors wont like it either....so when they are coming around ill have him sit in the van....

hiring someone is an experiment for me....I think this is a good/ cheap way to start.....I think its best to stick with this idea until I can get a journeyman to help me.....this will allow me to get more hours in a 8-10 hour day.....

If I hire a journeyman now and do sales my salary wont be enough to survive....I need to be in the field.....I do make a very good living, but not enough to give $100,000 away and still live off whats left

I am not confident that if I had 8 hours a day for sales that id suddenly get tons of new customers....Im a high end guy.....there's very few customers willing to pay full price...even many high end builders still use the cheapest subs out there...im $2,000+ more per new house than most of the new home plumbers.......they are typically below what I consider my cost.....don't know how they do it...not willing to lower my price...I make 10% on new homes...wont take 1% less
 

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ive actually canceled the apprentice idea...after 1,600 hours his pension goes up to $10 an hour and health care up to $18.50

id be paying the guy $80k a year with benefits and Taxes

I cant justify that...yea im busy most days...but not that busy that I can just eat $80,000 out of my pocket...it would kill me financially unless I dramatically get more work

ive decided to hire a laborer for $15 part time.....30 hours a week

its perfect.....he cant touch the pipe though....but there's tons of stuff he can do to help me....dig, drill holes, cut 2x4's, run for tools/fittings... yes he will be standing around a lot , but my hope he he can save me 25% on time...I will be able to work continuous while he does all the running around.....on standard jobs like water heater replacement im hoping to save 50%....most of it is grunt work/running up and down stairs.....the actually putting things together is less than 1/2 the work on that task

in WI your not allowed to have a Plumbers Helper.....so there's a grey area here I need to watch out for....I will never have him put pipes together....but can he sit at a chop saw and cut the pipes for me?....there's some grey area's here....and also some inspectors wont like it either....so when they are coming around ill have him sit in the van....

hiring someone is an experiment for me....I think this is a good/ cheap way to start.....I think its best to stick with this idea until I can get a journeyman to help me.....this will allow me to get more hours in a 8-10 hour day.....

If I hire a journeyman now and do sales my salary wont be enough to survive....I need to be in the field.....I do make a very good living, but not enough to give $100,000 away and still live off whats left

I am not confident that if I had 8 hours a day for sales that id suddenly get tons of new customers....Im a high end guy.....there's very few customers willing to pay full price...even many high end builders still use the cheapest subs out there...im $2,000+ more per new house than most of the new home plumbers.......they are typically below what I consider my cost.....don't know how they do it...not willing to lower my price...I make 10% on new homes...wont take 1% less
It's a fvcked up world we live in, in my province that guy could carry tools, hand you your wrench but isn't allowed to hand you a piece of pipe.

I was working on tract homes and the second MoL shows up all the laborers doing electrical work/plumbing/hvac all jump into their company trucks and hide at Tim Hortons for a few hours.
 

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Inner10 said:
It's a fvcked up world we live in, in my province that guy could carry tools, hand you your wrench but isn't allowed to hand you a piece of pipe. I was working on tract homes and the second MoL shows up all the laborers doing electrical work/plumbing/hvac all jump into their company trucks and hide at Tim Hortons for a few hours.
Why? What's MOL got to do with what the guys are doing? As long as they are working safely MOL shouldn't care what task they are doing.

With the exception of gas piping, anyone can do anything on their own property. If your on a customers house, permits for electrical can't be pulled without a license. I've never seen a building department ask for the plumbers license. However gas won't get passed or turned on without a tag signed by a licensed tech, and I lost count how many times I've seen tags put on by someone who's name is not on the tag, but still part of the same company.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Why? What's MOL got to do with what the guys are doing? As long as they are working safely MOL shouldn't care what task they are doing.

With the exception of gas piping, anyone can do anything on their own property. If your on a customers house, permits for electrical can't be pulled without a license. I've never seen a building department ask for the plumbers license. However gas won't get passed or turned on without a tag signed by a licensed tech, and I lost count how many times I've seen tags put on by someone who's name is not on the tag, but still part of the same company.
I have been asked for my license a few times from inspectors...and in this competitive environment I know they are being pushed by the union to ask more often....one inspector told me 2 days ago that a popular cut rate plumber(non union) is having laborers doing the finish work on weekends.....he's instructed the police to start checking the jobsites for this on weekends.....

also the union does show up once in a while on jobsites to check things....they would report me....many inspectors are big union guys too....

in WI you need to be licensed to touch plumbing.....for public safety... I agree with it.....that's why my laborer wont touch pipe or at least not put it together
 
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