Ride and Decide links students with skilled trades

Shannon CareyFeature, Halls

Gordy Noe of Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning gave the Halls Business and Professional Association some sobering statistics May 15. For every four workers leaving a skilled trade profession, only one is entering the field. At the current rate of attrition, there will be no skilled tradespeople to train in the next two generations.

That means no plumbers, no HVAC technicians, no welders, no construction workers.

“The trades are suffering for workers,” said Noe. “Prices will go up because those technicians and drivers are going to name their price. So we’ve got to start training the new workforce.”

So, four years ago he created Ride and Decide, a program in partnership with Tennessee Plumbing Heating Cooling and Construction Association (PHCC). Ride and Decide links students age 16 to 18 with a paid summer job in a skilled trade. The students learn the skills of the trade and get a chance to decide whether they want to make it a career.

“The theory is not to talk people out of going to college, but there’s a lot of people who go to college and don’t get anything out of it,” he said. “They were told to go to college when really that was the last thing they needed.”

Noe introduced the group to Whitney Almeraz, a Halls High graduate who took all honors and advanced placement classes. She did Ride and Decide last summer for welding with Interstate Mechanical and started full time after graduating in December at age 18 making $30,000 a year.

“The job security in the skilled trades world is unbelievable,” Noe said. “That’s what the program is all about.”

Noe said more business placements are needed. Info: www.RideandDecide.com

Mary Katherine Wormsley

Mary Katherine Wormsley of Hatcher Hill Properties visited the HBPA to talk about changes in the shopping center that houses Ace Hardware. She said the outparcel where Halls Walk-In Clinic used to be will be an Arby’s. There have been storefront spaces added next to Ace Hardware. She said the firm also did the new Firestone in Halls and has another outparcel available there.

“We take a lot of pride in being in the communities where we own property,” she said.

Business Spotlight

Jeff Bayless and wife Rachel Bayless of Sofas and More were the featured Halls business this month. Jeff said the furniture store was started in 1995 by Rachel’s parents. He thanked everyone in the Halls community for their support.

“I’m excited to keep adding to it,” he said. “We have 12 to 15 employees, and most of them have been with us longer than me. The people of Halls work with us. Thank you for keeping us here.”

HBPA president Bobby Hubbs introduces Jeff Bayless of Sofas and More.


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