Students Learn Value of Skilled Trade

F.W. Webb gives students in the trades a taste of the real world.


No matter which way the economy goes, skilled trade workers are always in need. According to U.S. News, repair and maintenance workers have the 11th "best job" in 2012.

And companies like Woburn's F.W. Webb are trying to help teenagers get on that "best job" career path with events like last week's career day.


Lessons in Life (and Careers)

Like a teacher in a classroom, Richard Kealty held up a shower head. A water flow rate of one and a half gallons a minute produces a nice shower, he told the audience gathered around him. But if you need a little more water to get shampoo out of your hair, he showed them how to adjust the fixture so that water would rain down at two gallons a minute—then automatically return to the lower rate when you turn off the water.

And he pointed out how the audience might talk with a customer about this product—when they finish high school and get jobs.

Groups of students—and some of their instructors—from vocational schools around the state streamed into the F. W. Webb Co. on Everberg Road Thursday for its second career day.

They toured the cavernous warehouse, met with manufacturers’ representatives, like Kealty, New England district sales manager for American Standard brands, and listened to Christopher DiPirro, Webb’s general manager.

Students get to see products, learn about job opportunities and see how the warehouse runs, DiPirro told Patch—and network with instructors and vendors.

Webb describes itself as is the largest distributor of plumbing, heating, cooling and industrial supplies in the northeast.

Students “have to get a sample of the real world,” said Joyce Harper, in the plumbing department at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston.

Funding for new technology is tight at technical schools, according to Dan Slavinskas, an electrical instructor from Worcester Technical High School. In addition, more computers and technology, in heating and cooling systems, for example, mean technicians have to know more—and in different specialties, he commented.

The event also showed students what things cost, he said.


Non-Traditional Career Day

Webb held its first career fair two years ago; it reportedly drew 300 people. This year’s event drew at least 25 to 30 percent more students, Di Pirro said. The company extended the invitation to trade schools in the Commonwealth and the southern New Hampshire, he said.  Webb plans, he said, to run the event every year. A salesman suggested the career day, Di Pirro told Patch.

Student Isaac Herrera, an 11th grader in the Worcester Tech electrical program, thought it was “interesting to learn about the trades and how they work.”  

Eleventh graders Cody Smith and Preston Boissoneau, who are studying plumbing at the Leominster High School Center for Technical Education, both said they liked Kealty’s toilet demonstration. It proves, they said, that the low-flow toilet works.

At the other end of the water line, Ed Kelley showed Woburn Patch a low-tech plumbing artifact. The president of the Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors of Massachusetts showed Patch a wheel-like piece of wood about four inches thick and maybe eight inches in diameter, with a hole in the center. What is it? he asked, much like the segment of the same name on “This Old House.”

It is, he said, is the equivalent of a three-to-three-and-a-half-inch copper water line. It came, he said, from a water main in Boston, installed in the early 1900s.


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