2020 HVAC/R Technician Graduate
HVAC/R Technician at Cumberland Farms

“Clay is an integral part of the very large machine that is Cumberland Farms. Without him and people like him, we would not be able to operate. Clay is as essential to Cumberland Farms as our business is to our customers, many of whom visit us every day, even now.”

“Cumberland Farms is considered an essential business during this difficult time we are experiencing. With Coronavirus affecting so many aspects of our life, it can be difficult to find what you need, when you need it. For our business to stay open we need skilled technicians to keep us running. We need heat and AC to keep the stores comfortable for our customers and team members. We must have working refrigeration systems to keep our food safe and available for those customers that need us.”

— Richard ThompsonSenior Facilities Manager, Cumberland Farms
I joined the Navy at 21; I continue to serve in the Navy Reserves.

I grew up in Colorado, but have lived away longer than I lived there. Being in the Navy taught me to talk to all sorts of people, from all walks of life, which is an asset now in a customer-focused HVAC/R career. During the last years of my Navy career, I was part of a building facilities team (NAVFAC) – Naval Facilities (Naval Facilities Engineering Command). I would escort tradesmen—plumbers, electrician and HVAC Technicians—through the building. Watching them work, I recognized I was interested in training for an HVAC career.

My boss, the Senior Chief, told me MTTI would be the best fit for me.

After completing my contract with the Navy, I planned to move to Rhode Island to be with family, including my twin sons. The Senior Chief went online to help research schools in the Pawtucket area, where I would be living. Recognizing that as a civilian, I would need to transition quickly into the workforce, he knew I wouldn’t have time to attend a two-year school. He said, ‘MTTI is where you’ll get the most out the training quickly.’

clay peacock
I chose the day HVAC/R program, so I could graduate and go to work in just over 6 months.

During my years in the Navy, I was based in San Diego, and in the Middle East, Bahrain—places where it is always warm or hot. When I began the HVAC/R program at MTTI, my classmates teased me about adapting to this first winter in the northeast; fortunately, it was a very mild one.

MTTI’s strategy is to get you out there quickly—which is exactly what I wanted.

The classes in MTTI’s HVAC/R program are very good. My Instructor, Ash, was very knowledgeable. You are thrown a lot of information and knowledge in a short amount of time. You could study HVAC for years—but the program gives a good baseline to enter into the industry.

As we prepared to start internship, I accepted a job with an HVAC company.

I liked the company and the people I would be working with. Looking back, If I had taken the installation position that they offered me, I would most likely have been laid off. Fortunately, Erin, the Career Services Specialist, told me about another opportunity with Cumberland Farms. Rich Thomas had interviewed me at the school, and I had a second interview with Miguel Sanchez at Cumberland Farms. During the interview, Miguel asked if I had ever been in a Cumberland Farms store. In California, where I had been living, we didn’t have a Cumberland Farms. I had to admit I hadn’t been in a store—thankfully he hired me anyway.

My first day interning was March 16th—just as recognition of the Coronavirus emergency hit.

Everybody was hurting. Fortunately, convenience stores are essential—the heating and cooling systems need to be maintained. If the walk-in freezers go down, the company would lose a lot of money. And customers need food, home and personal care products.

I took over the Taunton area from another MTTI Grad, Ray, who was promoted.

Ordinarily, the company gives you a truck right away and you pick up your tools. Because of the COVID-19 emergency, they couldn’t do the inventory right away. I did get my truck and tools during April. When I go into the stores, I keep in mind the need to take precautions. I follow the store’s rules. I don’t typically interact directly with customers, the way someone who works in the store will do. The parts of equipment I touch are not touched by others.  As long as I maintain social distancing, wash my hands—and now wear a mask—I feel safe.

I’m excited to learn that there is so much more to learn!

It’s the challenge of learning all about the equipment in Cumberland Farms’ stores that really interests me. While the pace is slower because of the Coronavirus emergency, I’m able to get a really good learning experience. I’m getting comfortable using the tablet on which I receive orders and practicing looking up manuals to order parts. I’m also using skills every day that I learned at school: hooking up gauges to the units, brazing, troubleshooting the walk-in coolers, cleaning evaporators and condensers and troubleshooting the electrical components.

We’re getting ready for the world to start turning again!

I look forward to when the restrictions are lifted and we pick up the pace. I feel fortunate to be working during this difficult time. Cumberland Farms is a great company to work for; they are family-oriented. I’m happy I accepted the position with Cumberland Farms. I couldn’t be more excited that I have the opportunity to work for the company.

MTTI was the best place to get my training; I was able to complete school quickly.  

We earned OSHA and EPA Certifications while still in the program. Attending the HVAC/R program set me up to get PJF Licenses for natural gas furnace and oil burning furnaces. The program also gave me 2,000 hours towards qualifying to take the Journeyman Licensing exam—which jumps you about 2 years ahead of someone who has not gone to school. I’m glad I picked this career path and trade; HVAC/R is a good fit for me.