Mechanical hub is proud to support and sponsor another apprentice in the annual PHCC CONNECT national plumbing apprenticeship contest in Milwaukee, Wis. Just weeks away from testing for his Journeyman’s license, apprentice plumber Joe Pilachowski has worked four years at Midwestern Mechanical, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., a commercial plumbing and heating, fire protection, HVAC and service company with four locations that spans two states: Sioux Falls, S.D.; Rapid City, S.D.; Spencer, Iowa; and Sioux City, Iowa.
After high school Joe was working two jobs, one in a hospital kitchen, and also as a loader for UPS. It just so happened that Midwestern Mechanical had in-house plumbers at the hospital; he talked with a few of them about their job and the kind of training needed to become successful.
Pilachowski contemplated the idea and then talked to a co-worker at UPS, who happened to be the daughter of then VP of Midwestern Mechanical, and decided to apply. “I chose plumbing because I always knew I would end up working a manual labor job, and I had been hunting for one for quite awhile before I applied. I looked into trade schools that I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford, and when I found out I could be paid to learn the trade rather than paying for it, I jumped right in,” says Pilachowski.
Pilachowski enjoys learning new things and the challenge of the plumbing trade, as well as the rapidly changing workplace. “I go to work in the morning knowing that I’ll have to figure out solutions to problems, and that those problems will not be the same everyday. I’m fortunate enough to work on smaller more specialized projects for Midwest Mechanical. It keeps me sharp and always allows me to experience and learn new things everyday,” says Pilachowski.
Entering the national apprenticeship contest in Milwaukee is important to Pilachowski to prove he hasn’t wasted the past four years of his life learning a trade, and winning the state PHCC competition proved that. Moving onto the national PHCC creates validation and helps not only prove to his foreman and his company, but to himself that he hasn’t wasted anyone’s time.
“I’ve worked hard these four years going to classes—even the extra training that was not required—to be the best at my trade that I could be. I applied myself to make myself better at a career I enjoy and now I can try my skills against others like me who strive to have excellence in all the work they do,” says Pilachowski.
Oh yeah, the only downside of the trade that Pilachowski sees? As any fellow plumber can attest—the smells and waste. “I don’t have a weak stomach, but no one likes having to cut into a live sewer line, or replace a used sewage ejection pump. It’s gross,” says Pilachowski.
But for those who are willing to put the time in to be successful in plumbing, Pilachowski says go for it. That’s been his mantra for anyone considering the trades, “Just jump into it, listen to the ones teaching you, and work hard at learning everything you can.”