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Business development Apr 20, 2023

Why educational partnerships matter

Innovation—it rarely happens in a vacuum. Every day our teams collaborate to develop new technology, build and release products, market our efforts, and support Authorized Dealers to create change with every installation. Reliable Controls succeeds because of partnerships. We’re building a greener future, together. We’re committed to quality, and we’re driven by our desire to make a difference.

Where did it start, this making a difference? It stemmed from a mindset, nurtured by a man determined to challenge the status quo. Roland Laird, founder of Reliable Controls, wanted to design technology that not only met customer requirements but also anticipated future needs. He raised the bar in building automation systems because he listened first. 

Reliable Controls continues to prioritize our customers’ needs; our designs and decision-making process are guided by our pledge to provide unwavering support through open and honest communication. We aim to empower others. To date, we employ 200+ people across five countries, our Authorized Dealers have installed technology in buildings around the globe, and we have taught more than 650 courses since 1995.

Our commitment to education stretches beyond dealer training. A technician’s foundation starts at school; their induction to our industry happens before they even choose which career to pursue. What exactly is the building automation industry, and how can they step into it? We have an opportunity to provide answers and shape their ambitions, one partnership at a time. Innovation has many faces.

Educational partnerships are a marriage of strengths: Dealers and RSMs identify colleges with established HVAC programs that would benefit from labs equipped with our cutting-edge technology. “Where possible we like to give back—to assist in the development of youths and in particular to encourage growth in STEM and the building trades,” says Levi Tully, executive vice president of sales. “There is a consistent dearth of qualified technicians and professionals in facility automation, so development in this area is good for the industry as a whole.”

The goal is for the partnership to be long-lasting, which requires a commitment of time and effort from all involved parties. Installation at the college lab, maintenance, and keeping instructor knowledge up to date contribute to course optimization. In return, the controls industry is able to recruit from a pool of talented technicians who join the field with a reliable foundation of knowledge. 

How often do graduates join dealer ranks? How many recruits constitute a successful partnership? This varies from region to region. As Jim Bowie from Setpoint Building Automation says, there are no guarantees. Of the two colleges Setpoint supports, Jim has actively hired from one but has yet to hire any candidates from the other. He acknowledges that it’s not just his company he’s supporting; there are a lot of other companies in the area, and students also choose to work for them. He’s pleased to contribute to the growth of the industry and says a lot can be done. At Setpoint they aren’t just giving back; they’re paying it forward.

Reliable Controls hopes more Authorized Dealers will seek out partnerships. “We have not prescribed a limit to the number of programs or institutions with whom we would participate,” Tully says. “Instead, we evaluate the commitment of the institution and the dealer involved.” Considering our investment is not insignificant, we prefer a 5- to 10-year commitment. And besides, our controllers are built to last. Humber College is still getting mileage out of the technology it received decades ago, after graciously hosting the first Eastern Canada Reliable Controls Authorized Dealer training in its lab. 

The evolution of our participation in industry education and the reciprocal partnerships we promote today recognizes the need for us to do more than just give; we want to actively support everyone involved. As our dealer network continues to grow, so, too, does the demand for qualified workers. Educational partnerships are an opportunity to help grow the next generation of technicians. Together we can showcase the multitude of careers available in the building automation industry. 

Reliable Controls currently has 10 active education partnership agreements with institutions across Canada and the US, and one in India. Will yours be next? Reach out to an Authorized Dealer to discuss the possibilities for a partnership of your own.