Skilled to Work: Plumbing/heating company encourages others in the trades to hire veterans

Keith Jackson said about 25 percent of his technician workforce is comprised of veterans.

Posted: Nov 7, 2019 6:09 PM
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 8:35 AM

As the weather changes and the cold air moved in, Kevin Lawson spent part of his Wednesday morning working on an outside, central air unit.

After serving in the Army between 1987 and 1991, the former soldier and police officer decided to transition into heating and air conditioning technician work.

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Heating and air conditioning technician Kevin Lawson works on a central air conditioning condenser on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, in north Huntsville. Heating and air conditioning technician Kevin Lawson works on a central air conditioning condenser on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, in north Huntsville.

"I've always wanted to work with my hands and this gave me that opportunity. I like going to people’s houses and solving a problem for them. And unlike with police work, people actually like to see me at their house now,” said Lawson.

He’s one of several veterans who decided to join Jackson Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. It’s namesake owner, Keith Jackson, said his first veteran hire was a Marine who joined the company back in 1998.

"And he came to work for us and learned the trade very quickly and fortunately, he’s still with us today. So that began to make me see there’s something special about these guys,” said Jackson.

As of now, about 25 percent of Jackson’s technicians are veterans and he said he will always look to hire others whenever he has an opening.

"In the trades, there is a lot of learning and these guys love to learn. They love challenges, which in the trades, there’s a lot of challenges from day-to-day. And most of these guys are very determined and that determination gets them through the tough times cause the trades are not always easy,” said Jackson.

Lawson said another reason he and other former military members are good for the trades is their dedication and punctuality.

"I'm the first one here every day. That's me. If I'm not early, if I'm not 15 minutes early, I'm late, is the way I look at it,” said Lawson.

Meanwhile, Jackson said fellow employers in the trades should follow his lead because there’s a lot to be gained by hiring veteran employees.

"The benefit goes to the employers because of their punctuality, their commitment to excellence and that’s, in this workforce that we have today, to find those kind of people, it’s just really hard, but once you get them, they’re so loyal and it’s a great reward for the owner of the company,” said Jackson.

WAAY 31 Reporter Casey Albritton contributed to this story.

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