By Diane M. Calabrese / Published June 2021
Are you looking for some excellent professional news? CETA University is now a benefit to members of the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association.
The virtual nature of CETA University means members can engage in learning anywhere, using any device. Whether training new employees or just staying current, the university qualifies as a huge asset.
“By accessing the content on the go, our members can now provide training for new employees as well as continuing education for existing staff more easily than ever,” explains Mike Tonies, senior director of sales at Hydra-Flex Inc. in Savage, MN. That is quite a robust benefit to membership.
As chair of the CETA University committee, Tonies has steered the effort leading to the relaunch of the center for learning. “In June 2019, the CETA board of directors reviewed the mission of CETA and determined that more should be done to support members with education,” he says.
Recognizing its value, the board members voted unanimously “to revive the CETA University brand,” explains Tonies. He volunteered to head the committee.
The resources of the university fit into several broad categories: operations management, relationship management, applications and markets, sales, marketing and outreach, technical and systems, regulation, and logistics. There is also a miscellaneous category.
The generous amounts of information and instruction available from topical experts offer a myriad of ways for everyone—including veterans of the industry—to learn. For example, the university facilitates online meetings and forums among members.
“We are excited to continue to add content to our knowledge library, as well as host live events periodically throughout the year where our members can engage with each other remotely on a variety of industry-related topics,” says Tonies.
Such events can give members just the assist they need at critical junctures. “By hosting these member-only events, CETA University can cover topics in real time to help our members navigate the challenges small businesses face each and every day,” says Tonies.
Virtual education is such a familiar phrase in 2021 that few give it a passing thought. The prevailing concept is to learn as much as possible in the setting that works best. It’s possible the setting could be an office, but it could just as easily be in the field.
“The most important piece for evolving the CETA University brand is it brings education to life in today’s modern technology offering,” says Tonies. Aligned with that is the ease of access provided to members.
When discussions began about bringing back CETA University, members were eager to seize the potential of the learning environment. “When I became a board member, CETA University was in the very beginning of its revival,” says Cherie Sparks, operations manager at River City Pressure Cleaning Equipment in San Antonio, TX.
“As a distributor, I saw a real need for a centralized place for knowledge about all aspects of our industry and what a huge benefit it would be to members,” explains Sparks. “It can be difficult to sift through lots of different sources to find information for a specific fix and for training technicians.”
The consolidation of information changes that. “Having the information easily accessible and logically organized is a huge help to our business,” says Sparks.
In fact, Sparks’ enthusiasm translated into action. “When I heard about the university committee and its objectives, I quickly volunteered to help.”
Sparks is also chair of the benchmarking committee. “I have found that being involved on multiple committees gives me a better overall perspective on CETA’s goals and direction,” she explains.
Sparks explains the committee’s approach. “The committee has spent the bulk of our initial time and energy working on content for the technical and systems section. We felt this was the area that most members wanted and needed the most.”
Technical and systems offerings are strong now. Other broad categories (aforementioned) are receiving more attention. For instance, in the category of relationship management, there are topics devoted to human interpersonal expertise, leadership, HR, customer service/relationships, and more, explains Sparks.
Or consider operations management. It includes training in accounting, IT, service/parts, and supply chain, “just to name a few,” says Sparks.
The logistical setup for the virtual university incorporates understanding of the way members want to use it in the real world. “For ease of use and security, CETA members can request separate CETA University section-only logins for each of their team members,” says Sparks.
The combined security and accessibility feature gets high marks from Sparks. “We have utilized this feature in our business by allowing team members designated time for learning—in addition to any troubleshooting they need to research,” she says. “This has been valuable in increasing our team’s overall knowledge.”
The roster of courses at CETA University continues to grow. Courses will be refined as new technologies, regulations, or circumstances affect the industry.
In many ways, the university is the tie that binds. It is the whole that brings the best in learning and teaching into sharp focus. It links experts and students in order to disseminate knowledge.
Government entities from the EPA and IRS to SBA and OSHA offer training for businesses. There’s also training offered by manufacturers for distributors. But CETA University offers something more than any single instructional outlet.
CETA University recognizes the deep, collective knowledge of its members. And it allows that repository to be tapped and, most importantly, combined.
It also allows the knowledge to be shared. A distributor who has had great success training new employees on topics such as burner diagnostics or pump troubleshooting can be persuaded to make a video of the instructional time to contribute to the university.
Flexibility defines the instructional modules and learning material that will be retrievable. Pulling together as much expertise as possible and sharing it in the most time-efficient way is at the core of the CETA University approach.
There are university bonuses, too, such as excerpts from the Pressure Washer’s Guidebook, thanks to an arrangement with Cleaner Times Magazine, the publisher. To learn more about CETA University or CETA, visit www.CETA.org.