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Viega LLC took the trade media on a two-day, two-state tour last August to see the latest developments at its Kansas manufacturing facility and attend the opening of its new Colorado Seminar Center.
We were looking forward to finally seeing the 23,000-square-foot training center since we first heard about the initial plans three years the last time we visited Viega’s McPherson, Kansas campus.
So, while we began the trip in Kansas, let’s talk first about what we saw last on our second day in Colorado. (And for more information on the first leg of the trip, take a look at our sidebar, “Viega Invests in Kansas Manufacturing Facility”)
The Colorado Seminar Center is Viega’s second training site and joins the New Hampshire Seminar Center, which the company opened in Nashua in 2006 back when the company called the town home.
“Viega is absolutely committed to its customers and their success in the field,” said Bo DeAngelo, manager, technical training at the Colorado center.
Although we were there for an inaugural open house with about 200 other contractors, wholesalers and other invited guests, the Colorado center actually hosted its first contractors for training last April. Since then, DeAngelo says the center is on track to host more than 2,100 students this year.
Interactive Learning Center
The building includes four classrooms and two workshops. While twice the size of the New Hampshire training center, the new building borrowed a page from Nashua with an expanded Interactive Learning Center, which allows attendees to see, touch and experience Viega products while learning about their many capabilities.
During the planning stages of the building, DeAngelo says the decision was made to incorporate the interactive displays right into the building’s plumbing and mechanical systems.
Every video and product display, which lines the building’s central hallway that leads to the classrooms and workshops, tells a story and is filled with moving parts that give the user an experience with the technology.
Many of the screens are touchable, for example, and provide installation and retrofit information. One neat feature of the Interactive displays is a “clear mode,” which turns the monitors off, essentially turning them into a window showing the piping and fittings behind the wall, so to speak. Depending on the display, additional graphics are superimposed upon the plumbing systems to show additional benefits.
At the end of the hallway, a radiant display allows users to detect their body temperature and interact with the building’s heating system.
Both seminar centers offer classes taught by experts who have already proved themselves in the field before moving to the classroom. Classes range from one to five days on topics from pressing technology and radiant system design to PEX plumbing and pathogen prevention.
Offerings are evaluated annually and adjusted to ensure they encompass the latest advances and best practices in plumbing, heating and building construction. The courses are subsidized by Viega to keep them affordable for even one-truck operations.
To date, more than 40,000 people, from self-employed contractors to employees of large firms, have taken courses at the centers.
“The best technology is useless without tradespeople to implement it and any job is only as good as the work behind it,” said Viega LLC CEO David Garlow. “Demand for training has been increasing steadily. This facility will allow us to continue to provide and expand on the training that our industry deserves.”
During the open house, contractors had the opportunity to attend credential training in Viega’s MegaPress; ProPress; and PureFlow PEX products. In addition, product demos were held throughout the day, and attendees has the chance to enter raffles to win a Viega MegaPress Branch Adapter Tool Kit; a Ridgid RP241 ProPress tool kit and a Ridgid RP340 MegaPress tool kit.
During the tour, DeAngelo also highlighted how Viega is extending education for the trades outside its two seminar centers through its Viega Trades Education Network.
VTEN partners with trade schools and community colleges to supplement their curriculum on plumbing and hydronic systems.
VTEN goes beyond product-focused instruction to provide its 95 partner UAs and schools with tooling packages, access to LoopCAD radiant heating and cooling systems design software and Viega’s eLearning platform. VTEN also offers instructors’ conferences, workshops and curriculum modules that integrate with each school’s program. Also, VTEN offers credentialed classes for Viega products, including Viega ProPress and Viega MegaPress for carbon steel and stainless pipe.