For more than a century, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 562 has served the plumbing and mechanical industry in eastern Missouri by offering a hands-on training program for upcoming trades professionals. Their mission — to provide a superior education program that integrates technical, on-the-job and academic training to meet the needs of contractors and the surrounding community — lives on with the addition of their Earth City, Missouri campus.
The new $18 million training facility offers a “wet lab” set-up that allows students to install, repair and take apart different plumbing fixtures. The facility contains a state-of-the-art, three-story spec house where students can apply their plumbing, pipefitting and HVAC knowledge by installing fixtures within mock-up bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, there is a special instruction room equipped with showers, sinks and toilets attached to framed walls so students can learn pipe installation and repair methods. A sand pit is also available for students to gain experience with sewer lines.
Their new training facility was in need of supplies commonly seen in the market, so manufacturers’ representative Specified Systems and REHAU teamed up to donate RAUPEX crosslinked polyethylene (PEXa) pipe, EVERLOC+ compression-sleeve fittings and F1960 cold expansion fittings. The products will be used throughout apprentices’ five years of education and within continuing education courses for journeymen, positioning students as valuable and adaptable plumbers and pipefitters.
Local 562 trains a number of service plumbers who encounter a range of repairs. EVERLOC+ is particularly helpful for service plumbers with design features that help them get it right the first time. A textured compression sleeve and multiple sealing edges ensure a secure connection, so service plumbers are less likely to be called back to a job site for repairs. EVERLOC+ further offers 360 degree connection control and an easy visual verification that allows plumbers to move onto their next job with confidence.
Another appealing aspect of EVERLOC+ for service plumbers is how the product eliminates wait time for pressure testing, even in cold conditions. “Service plumbers don’t have the time, especially when it’s cold, to wait for the pipe to shrink back down when using F1960,” said plumbing expert Jeff Strothmann with Specified Systems. “EVERLOC+ has quick sealing and takes quick pressure on it so plumbers can keep moving.”
“When we were contacted about the donations, we told those guys ‘of course,’” said REHAU’s Midwest sales manager Jeff Halter. “REHAU is happy to provide students the fitting systems for PEX piping seen in the market. Whether it’s our high-performance EVERLOC+ or the industry-standard F1960, we want to give people in the field an understanding of how to work with each system.”
The Earth City Local 562 location opened its doors in June 2020. Since classes began in August 2020, the facility has welcomed nearly 800 upcoming plumbers and pipefitters. Apprentices will use REHAU’s pipe and fittings throughout their five years of education at Local 562, whether they are learning the basics about pipe-to-fitting connections or installing plumbing system fixtures in the spec house. For journeymen continuing their education, they will also use EVERLOC+ and F1960 in evening seminars.
“I couldn’t be happier with how Specified Systems came in and brought REHAU to Local,” said Paul Gallagher, a full-time instructor who has been with Local 562 for nearly 22 years. Specified Systems will continue to work alongside Gallagher to personally deliver a fitting training to students sometime in 2022.
The next generation of Local 562 apprentices will gain skills that reflect plumbing and mechanical industry best practices as they use PEXa pipe and fittings, positioning students as valuable and adaptable plumbers and pipefitters. Gallagher concluded, “I hope the biggest takeaway students have when leaving the center is that they learned to be the best plumber they can be.”