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Letters: July/August 2010

July/August 2010
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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An Open Letter to the Weatherization Community

I just returned from the national ACI conference in Austin, Texas. What a fantastic experience. I met so many wonderful people and gained so much knowledge in such a short period of time it will take months just to process it all. If you’ve never been to an ACI conference, you really should go to one as soon as you are able. As informative and fun as the conference was, it was also disappointing and disturbing to me in some ways. I heard a lot of negativity, doubt, and sensed a bit of hostility at times. You see, I am a newcomer to the weatherization industry. I am a businessman interested in making a profit. I am also a patriot; a person with a heart who cares deeply about his country and our planet. I am a Catskill Mountains country boy from the rural farm areas of the Southern Tier of New York. I am a six-year veteran of the U.S. Navy; I’ve worked in energy efficiency; and I care deeply about our nation’s unemployed, our needless waste of energy, and the environment.

I see this era of transformation not only as an opportunity to make a profit, but also as a rare chance to create positive change for our nation’s future. I may not have 20 years’ experience in weatherization; I do believe I bring many valuable skills to the table. If you don’t like the ways in which newcomers like me are behaving, then how about partnering with us so we all may benefit from our combined efforts? Why not leverage the “new blood” coming into the industry? I like to think my strength is communication; that’s why I chose to open a training company. I’ve hired people with construction and weatherization industry experience to ensure we deliver quality training programs.

I started my company because John Tooley inspired me at the 2009 ACI regional conference in Portland. I didn’t even try to imagine I knew enough to teach energy auditors based on my knowledge, so I flew to Helena, Montana, with Kyle Chase to meet Chris Dorsi and John Krigger. We’ve used the Saturn Curriculum from the start. I am well aware of my newbie status; I do not have years of experience in crawlspaces, so the person I chose for my lead instructor does have years of weatherization experience. We’ve never run less than an 80-hour training program; some programs are 120 hours. We’ve hired Bruce Manclark to hold heating-and-cooling workshops for every class he has been available for. We bring in utility program reps and manufacturer reps to speak with every class, too. We purchase a one-year subscription to Home Energy magazine for every student. I’ve asked John Tooley to assist my company in the development of best processes.

I am doing my best to do the right things the right way; I’ve learned a lot and am willing to share what I’ve learned with anyone who cares to call. I beg you to consider helping out us newbies to the industry. Please consider sharing your experience and working with us instead of becoming defensive, critical, and suspicious of most everything we do. We may just have some good ideas. We may just be nice people who care, people with good hearts, and people just like you.

Thank you and kindest regards.

Jeff Catlin
Energy Conservation Training Company
Portland, Oregon

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