Training The Tradesmen
That’s the same Mike Singletary we watched clobber quarterbacks every Sunday. It sure is — and the former Chicago Bear linebacker is helping the Indiana-based hydronic manufacturer construct training videos for tradesmen. Joe Ross, manager for marketing programs for Weil-McLain, coordinated part of the video’s shoot in Samurai Mike’s 2,700 sq. ft. basement in north suburban Chicago.
“We want a video that will accompany our installation binders,” says Ross, who is also the chairman of the Hydronics Institute Education Committee. “We feel the people installing these systems are hands on and visually oriented. Weil-McLain wants to make sure the contractors and installers do the best job they can to provide a heating system that will serve the customer for decades.”
The four-part Weil-McLain video set will help tradesmen both inside and outside the radiant heating industry understand the considerations that go into installing a system. The set — which will cover slab on grade, thin slab, below-floor and above-floor systems — will be geared not only toward radiant heat installers, but also general contractors, masons, carpenters and electricians. “We want to make sure we’re on the same sheet of music,” Ross says.
Blending In: “We come in like another subcontractor,” says cameraman Gary Todd, of TeleVisual Productions. “We have to work with all the other people out here. We want to make sure everything comes out with the same quality as it has in the past.” Todd deals with multiple considerations in filming radiant jobs, including lighting, audio and other tradesmen. For a 20-minute segment, Todd shoots three hours worth of footage.
Ross says the crew interviewed the lead plumber on the job so that he could explain what his considerations were for the installation. “A plumber needs to tell another plumber about these things,” explains Ross.
Tony Quintana, of Wauconda, Ill.–based McElroy Plumbing, found the only difference in his work was that the film crew slowed down his “day’s worth of work. We had to keep stopping so they could film.” But Quintana admitted Weil-McLain helps tremendously on the job by providing him diagrams of the system.
Much of the footage will not make the training videos, says Todd, who has shot hundreds of hours worth of footage for multiple Weil-McLain projects. “But a lot of this feedback still ends up helping other plumbers,” he says. “All the footage goes back to Weil-McLain’s corporate offices, and they’re able to incorporate changes to their projects.”
On the job in Singletary’s basement, the film crew was able to show how the slab is poured, and then the tubing considerations. Half the floor was poured on the day of the shoot, so the crew was able to show the protection sleeves where the tubing comes out of the slab into the manifold. “If somebody is trowelling, we have extra protection to make sure the tubing isn’t damaged,” explains Ross. “We have gauges set up to monitor sudden pressure drops if someone punctures the tubing.”
But Ross says the people working on Singletary’s house have had experience with radiant heating systems. (Quintana has been installing systems for more than 14 years.) More than 30 percent of the new 8,000 sq. ft. abode will be covered by radiant heat. Portions of the driveway and five car garage will include a snowmelt system.
Other applications from the set will be released as they’re completed, Ross says. The film crew planned on shooting the below-floor application that was being installed in Singletary’s master bathroom. “We still have to find a place to shoot the above-floor application,” says Ross. Weil-McLain is reviewing sites in New England, North Carolina and Illinois for the video.
“With the growth of radiant, there is a lot of information out there,” Ross explains. “We are accountable to the end user for making sure people who are installing our products know what they’re doing. We want to ensure people can comfortably come in to the radiant business without making painful mistakes. That’s the bottom line.”