Earlier this year, Vortex Doors, based in Orange County, Calif., became authorized to train and certify technicians through exclusive one-on-one training to receive their American Association of Automated Door Manufacturers certification. The company says the five-day training course is “designed to provide all employees with a greater knowledge of doors, safety, procedures and an overall better understanding of company culture and tradition.”

Tim O’Shea, the company’s regional home office coach, says the equipment in the center includes “many different commercial doors, dock levelers, welders and oxy-acetylene torch. We have sectional overhead, rolling steel, rolling aluminum grilles, hollow metal security doors, and glass and aluminum storefront doors. All the doors are fully operational and we intentionally sabotage them so our technicians can experience hands on problem simulation and repair of most common problems.”

“We also set up a variety of real-life situations that are called in by customers and our goal is to expose our technicians to as many of these as possible. Each technician must demonstrate safe practices and basic skills with welding and oxy-acetylene torch use,” he adds.

Company CEO Mike Kattan spoke with DWM to tell us more about the facility and what sets Vortex’s training program apart from other companies’ programs.

DWM: Could you give us a brief overview of the training program and facility?

MK: Our training center is the only brick-and-mortar facility dedicated to training on all commercial, retail and industrial doors and windows. In other trades such as plumbing, automotive, carpentry and electrical there are hundreds of trade schools and colleges that teach those trades. After 76 years of growth over three generations, it was apparent that in order to service the customer better, work safely and continue to grow we needed customized training. Traditionally an apprentice would ride along with an experienced person for about a year and you hope that they learned enough. But that was inconsistent and you only learn what the jobs entailed. One day we said, “What we need is a door college; a University of Doors and Windows.” And so the idea came.

DWM: What are some key items discussed during the five-day training?

MK: During the five-day training we cover everything from tools and safety to techniques and even how to delight the customer. Paperwork and sales are also part of the training. It is 50 percent classroom and the other half hands-on. We replicate real-life situations that they [trainees] will encounter in the field for repairs and installation. Laying out measurements, and even welding, is part of the curricula.

DWM: Why are these important topics?

MK: We chose these topics because they are what provide value to the customer and our company. The customer is paying for our knowledge and the trust and quality we convey.

DWM: What sets this program apart from other training programs?

MK: In our industry there is no formal training and, generally, it is treated like construction; like we are a service company with sharp trucks and technicians in uniforms. Other companies call their people installers and workers. Ours are technicians and are trained that way.

DWM: What makes the facility “state of the art”?

MK: This goes back to our founder Frank E. Everett. In his early years he would tell his wife Adelaide, “I am going to make a customer happy today.”  I know it sounds simple and corny but three generations later we have kept that philosophy and it has helped us grow to 31 offices in eight states with more than 400 team members.

DWM: Why did you decide to create the course?

MK: Our entire management team is homegrown. Our leaders and managers were once technicians and office workers. They are respected because they know the business and products and have earned being the boss.

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