What does Uponor factory training offer to radiant heating professionals?

Last December, Wes Sisco was appointed senior trainer for Uponor’s factory training program, located at the company’s headquarters in Apple Valley, Minn. Uponor was the first to bring radiant floor heating to North America back in the early 1980s, and it has offered extensive radiant training since 1991.

We sat down with Sisco to learn a little more about what he and Uponor’s new training program have to offer professionals in the radiant arena.


What is your background? What makes you equipped to be senior trainer at Uponor?

After graduating high school, I joined the U.S. Air Force and attained a degree in electronics. I started contracting in 1985, then went to work for Weinstein Supply in Philadelphia as a technical services advisor before going to International Comfort Products as a regional sales manager. In 2000, I joined Uponor (at the time, Wirsbo) as a training specialist, and moved on to technical field representative in 2003. In December 2008, I accepted the position of senior customer trainer.

Wes Sisco

Since I’ve held such diverse positions in the business for more than 23 years, I can bring a great deal of essential, valuable, comprehensive information to our factory-training attendees.


Why did you leave training five years ago?

I wanted to take it to the next level and actively help our partners out in the field. At the factory, we get a lot of calls from professionals needing assistance and direction, and I wanted to go out and meet face-to-face with our industry partners to let them know we’re here for them in real-world situations.


Why come back now?

I wanted to take all my knowledge from being out in the field and bring it back to the classroom. Plus, I can help more people here in a classroom setting, where I can reach out to 30 or 40 people a lot quicker than traveling the country seeing a few people here and there.


Having been out in the field, what kind of training do contractors seem to need most?

In my experience, most professionals are good with the parts and pieces, but tying it all together - making a complete system - was where some people would fall short. Our training details the products and tools and ties it all in with proven, professional design and installation techniques for an efficient, successful system.


If you could suggest one simple fix for a radiant job, what would you recommend?

First, purging (air elimination); second, balancing.


Will you miss the opportunity to be in the field?

Actually, that will still be part of my position, so I will continue helping our partners in the field in addition to factory training.


What can a person expect when they come to training at the Uponor factory?

I would call it “edutainment” - a mix of education and entertainment. Simply put, if you’re not laughing, you’re not learning. We’re serious about our business, but we want to make sure people have a good time and enjoy themselves when they’re here. It’s a relaxed learning environment that’s filled with education and loads of fun. We mix technical knowledge and expertise with tons of personality and laughs. It’s an experience that’s second to none.


Who can attend training?

Anyone who is serious about learning in this business. We eliminate myths and teach the facts. It’s appropriate for anyone from beginner to zealot. We start by building a foundation; once that’s done, the possibilities are endless.


Who makes up the Uponor Factory Training Team?

The team consists of four key people: me, the senior trainer, as well as two customer trainers, Josh Schwaller and Steve Swanson, and a training project manager, Mary Beth Manninen.

Schwaller has held the role of Uponor customer trainer for two years, and has more than nine years of professional training, curriculum development and facilitation expertise. Swanson brings more than 20 years of experience in the hydronic and steam-heating, HVAC and plumbing industries, including helping to develop curriculum and training programs for hydronic heating seminars and the state of Minnesota boiler license. Manninen has more than 14 years of corporate training expertise, including developing specialized training strategies and tactics for several Fortune 500 companies.


What about the Uponor program excites you the most?

It’s all about people with passion. Our partners are part of our family, and I’m excited to be an integral part of helping people learn more about our products and systems. Also, anytime I’m in front of people, teaching them and interacting with them, it gives me great fulfillment. When it’s all said and done, I’m friends with these people.


Where do you see the radiant industry going?

With everything moving green, the sky is the limit for radiant - geothermal, solar energy, wind energy and waste energy, as well as free sources of energy such as biomass. The beauty of hydronic radiant is, it doesn’t matter what is heating or cooling the water, as long as it’s the right temperature for the system application.


Will training start to focus more on the radiant cooling concept?

Training will cover radiant cooling, but the focus will be equal across the board for all systems.


Planning on doing Webinars?

Absolutely. In 2008, we featured radiant expert Robert Bean in Webinars for radiant heating and cooling, frost prevention and thermal comfort, to name a few. I’m looking toward all venues for getting our training out there to people who can use it, whether in the classroom, out in the field or on the Web.


Why does Uponor offer training?

We strongly value our professional partners in the business and we want to support them in any way possible. By offering them the proper tools and training they need to be a success, it helps us be successful as well.


Uponor Training

The Uponor factory training program currently offers the following courses:

  • Radiant Solutions - Fundamentals Workshop. Develops an understanding of the key elements of radiant floor heating systems, including delivery fundamentals, installation techniques, zoning, balancing and heat loss.
    Radiant Solutions - Fundamentals 102 Workshop. This course delves deeper into radiant system design and installation by focusing on near-boiler piping, hybrid systems, zoning and wiring system controls.

  • Radiant Solutions - Fundamentals Workshop with ADS. Concentrates on whole-house radiant system design through the use of Uponor’s Advanced Design Suite software.

  • Radiant Solutions - Controls Workshop. Gives participants the opportunity to wire and program Uponor controls, including thermostats and zoning controls as well as the new Climate Control line, which includes the Multifunction Controller, the Zoning System, the Network System and the redesigned proPANEL units.

  • Radiant Solutions - Controls 102 Workshop. This course focuses on a deeper understanding of Uponor’s Climate Control Network System, an integrated hardware and software package that connects all radiant and HVAC components to a single system.

  • AQUASAFE Fire Safety Workshop. Details system components, design and installation techniques for the Uponor multipurpose plumbing and fire sprinkler system.

  • Engineers Training Workshop. This course focuses on design considerations, construction techniques and component familiarization and application for Uponor’s radiant heating and cooling, snow melting, permafrost prevention and commercial plumbing solutions.

Go to www.uponor-usa.com/training for the most current factory training schedule.