Building Trade Skills on My Own Time—Despite a Hectic Work Schedule

Jon Zou, an HVAC Technician at Interplay Learning

Just about every aspect of building maintenance has evolved significantly in the 30 years that Tobin Britton has been in the business. The constant change in technology and best practices meant that even with his extensive experience, he wanted ongoing training to keep up so he could continue to progress in his career. Tobin recently spoke with us about how he integrates learning into his busy life.


Developing New Skills on and off the Job

Based in the Portland, Oregon area, Tobin is currently a Facilities Maintenance Technician for Prologis, one of the world’s largest logistics and warehouse management companies. Its unique warehouse-as-a-solution offerings integrate warehouse space and support services to support small and medium businesses. Since 2018, Tobin has been training with Interplay’s training platform to upskill, progress in his career, and work towards his NATE certifications.

Q: Describe how Interplay training fits into your everyday life. Does the training translate well to your real-world job?

“Interplay training translates very well into my life because I can utilize the training at my convenience. 

If I have a long day at work, I can always go through modules another day when I have more time and energy. I can take it on the go if I want to get in a bit of training—even on vacation. 

I like the style of training: The way the material is laid out makes it seem effortless. It is easy to digest and very easy to translate into my real-world job immediately. 

All the terminology is consistent with the industry. It gives me training in bite-size chunks that I can take out into the world and utilize right away.”


Acquiring New Skills and Sharpening Old Ones

Even with his decades of experience, Tobin is still building new skills into his toolbox, particularly with commercial HVAC. And he has been able to improve in areas where he has had prior experience.

“Interplay Learning has definitely helped me improve the skills that I had when I started the program as well as introduce some new skills and hone things I had been having trouble with. 

It helped make very good sense of refrigeration—something I needed to know about as I got deeper into HVAC and HVAC servicing. 

I have learned to troubleshoot safely without putting myself in the hospital when I made a mistake. When you’re a tech out in the field, you can’t necessarily see through walls to investigate how the whole system is performing and functioning. But through this program, you can see exactly that very thing. Interplay has helped make me much more confident in my HVAC skills with commercial systems.”

And this has helped him tremendously in his career.

“Interplay learning has helped me be more successful in my career by helping me hone my skills and understand the fundamentals of what I’m doing. 

It breaks down slightly complex or confusing things and makes it stick in a way that other programs did not quite do for me. I came to understand refrigeration and what is happening within a system. So when I go out on a call, I can understand and diagnose the problem the first time, without stumbling as much as I used to.”


An Enthusiastic Recommendation

Tobin sings the praises of Interplay Learning almost everywhere he goes:

“I have repeatedly and excessively recommended Interplay to all my friends who do any type of trade work because I feel like the training program is really useful. 

It works on just about every level a person learns—visual, auditory, and hands-on. 

I enjoy the programming showing you the inside of systems and being able to take the tools out. I love the toolbox, playing with the tools and looking inside the system and touching it here and there—things that aren’t necessarily safe to do out in the field if you don’t know where you’re doing. 

With Interplay, you can play around with that toolbox and learn what stuff is, where it goes, and how to use it. That’s very useful to a new tech, intermediate tech, or a tech who’s been working for a long time but doesn’t necessarily utilize those tools all the time. 

When it comes down to it, any module you take is going to help you in your career.”


Learning While Having Fun!

The HVAC course that I am finishing now has been knowledge-increasing and fun. I have been able to go directly from doing my classes in the evening and taking that knowledge to the job site the very next day. I have and will continue to recommend Interplay Learning! I believe it is an awesome way to really get the knowledge to the end user so that it sticks.


Author Bio: Tobin Britton is a Facilities Maintenance Technician at Prologis, working in the Portland, Oregon area. He has worked in building maintenance for most of the past 30 years, with stints at retail, multi-family, and senior living facilities.