Q & A with Preferred’s Experienced Service Engineers

Preferred not only provides design and manufacture of burners, controls, and fuel oil handling equipment, but we install and service as well. This part of our company continues to grow as we offer solutions for retrofitting, upgraded efficiency tools, and simple maintenance to make sure the boiler room is safe place with the modern monitoring tools operators need.

Our service initiaves dove-tail nicely with our commitment to cross train our engineers so that when they are designing systems in the office, they can anticipate how installation and commissioning will go. Many of our service engineers and technicians end up in our engineering department at our headquarters in Danbury, CT. This program for our crew ensures a great deal of experience across disciplines, and an idea of what happens “on the job.” Here, we interviewed two of our senior crew members on the challenges of Service, what they learned, and personal details that are part of their career’s voyage.

David Eoff,  B.S.M.E with 30+ years of engineering experience and VP of Sales and Service at Preferred Utilities.

  1. When did you become a service technician? I have never been a full time service technician. But, for several years I did boiler/burner startups about half of my work time. Otherwise I only do service work when I am the closest person available or there is no one else to send.
  1. When did you join Preferred? 2006.
  1. When you first started what was your biggest challenge in this industry? I started out doing low NOx burner startups in the very earliest days of low NOx burners, so the technology was very new. Also, I was 22 years old and nobody wants to see someone that young starting up their new boiler.
  1. Who was/is your biggest mentor in this field? Gil Sy. Almost everything I know about combustion came from him. And I know a very tiny fraction of what is in his brain.
  1. What service job have you performed repeatedly that could be avoided and why? One of these days boiler control technology will advance to the point where the controls could do routine tune ups themselves. By then we may have conversations with the boiler controls. “What are you doing Hal? I think you are tuning that boiler too rich.”
  1. What significant changes have you seen in this industry since you started? Control technology keeps getting more sophisticated, but the level of operator training continues to decline. It’s good for us because we have an experienced service team, but it’s concerning when we have to leave the boilers with under- trained operators.
  1. Is there a job site that sticks out in your memory that has a memorable story attached to it? I was involved in switching a utility boiler from UV scanners to flame rods over a weekend. The boiler had 24 burners. We had to get the president of Fireye up on a Saturday night and ask him to take a box of amplifiers to the airport. Fortunately, the flame rods worked right out of the box or they would have lit the boiler off with a burning service technician.
  1. As a seasoned technician what do you think is most important for young technicians to know as they start their careers? They need to learn how to trouble-shoot, read wiring schematics, and read instruction manuals. And when something isn’t working and they’ve checked all the likely causes, they need to be able figure out the unlikely causes and check those too.
  1. Is there a technology that you wish was available to techs to make this job easier? Teleportation. We spend too much time travelling.
  1. Where is/was the best place to get lunch on a job? The taco truck at the site—if there is a port-a-potty nearby.

Don Hay, Service Manager at Preferred Utilities with 24+ years experience in the field with Preferred Utilities alone.

  1. When did you become a service technician? I joined the Navy in 1975 and was trained as a Teletype repairman. After getting out in 1987, I took a job as a Process engineer with a chemical company and earned my Blue Seal boiler operator License in the State of New Jersey.
  2. When did you join preferred? 1999
  3. When you first started what was your biggest challenge in this industry? I had never heard of or worked on Preferred equipment before, so the biggest challenge was in training on new equipment. I thank the awesome engineers and service staff that helped get me trained.
  4. Who was/is your biggest mentor in this field? Darrel Scribner and Bob Petrovich and Dennis Cosgrove.
  5. What service job have you performed repeatedly that could be avoided and why? I don’t think that there is a right or wrong answer to this question. All I can say is mistakes by installers or operators make a Service technician’s job either easy as can be or tough as heck.
  6. What significant changes have you seen in this industry since you started? I watched controls get smaller and more complicated, but this has allowed us to offer more flexibility with our systems.
  7. Is there a job site that sticks out in your memory that has a memorable story attached to it? Project S——-, It’s the job that never seems to end.
  8. As a seasoned technician what do you think is most important for young technicians to know as they start their careers? Pay attention to your trainers, always ask questions. And foremost write detailed reports to help the office staff understand what was done or needed.
  9. Is there a technology that you wish was available to techs to make this job easier? Easier transportation to and from jobs.
  10. Where is/was the best place to get lunch on a job? I’d have to say 30 Hudson St in Jersey City, they have an amazing cafeteria where I have been going for over 20 years.

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