Local 168 opens training center addition

SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times Welding instructor Anthony Darnell, left, talks with Ohio 30th District Senator Frank Hoagland inside a welding booth at the new Local 168 Plumbers and Pipefitters training facility addition.

By Sam Shawver

Special to the Times

A growing demand for skilled workers, especially welders, is being met by Local 168 Plumbers and Pipefitters, which opened a new $1 million-plus addition to the union’s apprenticeship training center in Marietta Friday.

“This state-of-the-art facility is the result of a unique cooperative effort between the union and contractors. This is probably the best training center within hundreds of miles,” said Pioneer Pipe founder Dave Archer, a member of the Marietta Plumbers and Pipefitters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.

The committee, consisting of three union representatives and three area contractors, helped dedicate the training center addition at 119 Wood St.

Approximately 70 students are currently participating in the training center’s five-year apprenticeship programs that include plumbing, pipe fitting and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

“And we’re graduating 19 of those students tonight,” training coordinator Jeff Smith said Friday.

The grads include welders certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) who honed their skills in the training center’s limited number of welding booths.

The new addition houses 22 welding booths with the latest equipment, said welding instructor Jeremy Dye.

“This is a big feat for us,” he said. “We have to be able to produce very efficient, quality welders.”

Dye noted the center’s apprenticeship program extends beyond traditional hands-on training, and includes classroom time reviewing basic to higher-level mathematics.

“This is also an earn while you learn apprenticeship program,” Smith added. “Our students maintain full-time jobs and take classes during the evenings.”

He said the program requirements include 1,230 hours of classroom instruction and students must also participate in at least 8,500 hours of on-the-job training before they can graduate.

Local and state government officials, business leaders and educators also participated in the dedication ceremony with training center staffers Friday afternoon.

“It’s nice to see this training facility being located in the city,” said Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews. “Union workers are trained to do a quality job.”

City Development Director Andy Coleman noted Local 168’s commitment to keeping the training facility within the Pioneer City.

“This wasn’t an easy path for them,” he said, adding that the union had to elevate the facility out of the 100-year flood plain in order to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for construction of a new building.

“It’s a million-dollar investment, and we couldn’t be happier that they chose to have faith in the city and keep their dollars and training programs here,” Coleman added.

Ohio 95th District Rep. Andy Thompson and 94th District Rep. Jay Edwards also attended Friday’s ceremony. Thompson said trained welders will continue to be in demand as the shale oil and gas industry ramps back up in the near future.

“The industry will rely on the skilled workers that are trained here,” he said. “And this new facility has everything needed to train workers from this area and the surrounding counties.”

Jean Wilson from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office also read a letter of congratulations from the senator to Local 168 members for completing the training center addition.

Smith said application packets for the next training center apprenticeship program, which starts in the fall, will be available at 119 Wood St. Monday through Friday beginning May 26. The applications must be returned no later than June 2.

At a glance

Training Center Expansion

¯ Local 168 Plumbers and Pipefitters officially opened an addition to the union’s apprenticeship training center on Wood Street in Marietta Friday afternoon.

¯ The facility, partly constructed by training center students, includes 22 new welding booths and expanded classroom space.

¯ The training center addition, including equipment, was funded by Local 168 at a cost of more than $1 million.

¯ Apprenticeship application packets for fall classes may be picked up at the training center, 119 Wood St., Marietta, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays from May 26 to June 2.

¯ Visit the center or call 740-373-9274 for more information.

Source: Local 168 Plumbers and Pipefitters.