By Diane M. Calabrese / Published August 2022
What’s new at CETA University? A great deal.
Growth (thanks to a strong foundation), access (easier than ever), and relevance (responsiveness to thoughtful feedback).
In fact, one of the big challenges for CETA University is keeping pace with the many good suggestions for courses. “Feedback so far has been very positive from distributor members,” says Cherie Sparks, the operations manager at River City Pressure Cleaning Equipment in San Antonio, TX, who currently chairs the committee overseeing the university effort.
“Members are excited about what is available on the site and want more content,” says Sparks. “We are working to add content as quickly as we can.”
Right now, the technical section of the university tends to capture the most attention. Even as technical offerings are being amplified, content for the operations section is being built. Every section gets attention with a prioritization according to member interests and acute issues, such as small-off-road-engine (SORE) rules.
Resources at the university fill familiar and handy categories: operations management, relationship management, applications and markets, sales, marketing and outreach, technical and systems, regulation, and logistics. There is also a miscellaneous category.
“Virtual webinars are current hot topics,” says Sparks. “After those webinars, the recordings for the webinars are posted in the knowledge base for members to watch at any time.”
There was a recent—and timely—standout among webinars, says Sparks. “Our webinar on supply chain challenges was a big hit, and we’ve recently added content to that topic to ensure the information is still current and relevant.”
Anywhere. Any device. That sums up the opportunities to learn via CETA University.
Like every robust university, this one has a solid and accessible record of presentations that took place at the association’s annual meetings and trade shows. Audio recordings in digital format give members the chance to connect with the legacy of the industry and CETA.
As a resource for distributors, CETA University does many things. It bolsters efforts to stay current with regulations, helps keep team members well trained and certified, and informs “what’s next” thinking.
In addition to Sparks, the current members of the CETA University committee are Mike Tonies, senior director of sales at Hydra-Flex Inc. in Savage, MN; Gregg Brodsky, senior western sales manager at Alkota Cleaning Systems in Alcester, SD; and Angie Farley Thurman, president of Farley’s Inc. in Siloam Springs, AR. All are enthusiastic supporters of the university, as are the many members of CETA who have contributed course offerings to date—and will do so in the future.
Tonies has referred to the university as a “knowledge library” and that’s a wonderful encapsulation. Instrumental in the relaunch of CETA University in 2019, he also promoted the larger vision of a growing space where members could engage with one another on a wide variety of topics and do so remotely.
CETA University launched as a virtual education platform just a bit ahead of when the whole world headed into virtual spaces for learning and commerce. That was fortuitous, but also fortunate, as the repository of information became especially critical to CETA members when person-to-person engagement was limited.
One of the most exciting aspects of the university is the ease with which it ties together immersion in a subject and virtual learning. For example, thanks to portable devices, a service technician can be looking at a machine in his or her shop space and a video of an ongoing assembly at the same time.
Ease of access. Anywhere, and that includes in the field.
Relevance of the offerings at CETA University begin, move forward, and end with the contributions from members. Committee member Farley Thurman has spoken in this column about the importance of the university as an assistance in safety training.
Excellent safety training consultants and programs abound. Yet having access to trainers (or links to trainers) who are immersed in the unique challenges of our industry is a genuine benefit.
No two parts of any business are discrete. Brodsky, a champion of both benchmarking and CETA University, saw the benefit of giving members a compendium of the tools that will push their continuous improvement. On the other end of the learning (and putting into action) are the measurable outcomes through benchmarking.
CETA committee members are big-picture people with the ability to focus. Like Brodsky, Sparks has served on both the university and benchmarking committees. There is truly something complementary about striving for gains and quantifying results.
Sorting through source after source to find information for a specific fix (or training technicians) is time consuming, explains Sparks. With CETA University there is a starting point that shortens the search.
“A centralized place for knowledge about all aspects of our industry” is a way that Sparks characterizes CETA University; in short: relevance.
Like Sparks, other members of the committee quite literally leapt to join the effort to build CETA University. They consider the effort that important.
Now, Sparks is issuing something of a “call to action” to fellow association members. “CETA University is a group effort, so we want to put out the call by asking our members to help us fill our knowledge base,” she explains.
“If anyone, or any business, has content they think other members could benefit from, that they don’t mind sharing, please send it our way,” says Sparks. “For everything from best practices to general information, we want to have a mix of ideas as well as a mix of video and written content to provide for the different ways people learn.”
Sparks advises prospective contributors that all content will be vetted to eliminate proprietary information and to be sure no copyrighted material is published. (Submitters can do their part by not sending any material that falls into one of those categories.) Send submissions to Kate Evans, part-time coordinator for CETA University, via email@example.com and copy firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s a second part to Sparks’ call. It is an invitation to those who have been thinking about helping to get involved. “If anyone would like to join our committee, we welcome the assistance…The more hands we have to help, the quicker and better we can build our knowledge base and make CETA U the best it can be.”
It’s not exactly the same as a campus tour, but close. Association members attending PowerClean 2022 (October 12–15) in Orlando, FL, will be able to learn more about CETA University, much as they would on such a trek.
“We will be doing a CETA U presentation at PowerClean to show the benefits, answer any questions, and gather feedback,” explains Sparks. Attending will provide an opportunity to not only identify ways to use the university but help also with building it.
Members of CETA who still have not engaged with CETA University can do so by getting their login information. Each team member at a business requires a unique login. Contact Tracy Wagoner, assistant manager at CETA, to obtain sign-on credentials, via email@example.com.
Security protocols at CETA University ensure that team members can immerse themselves in learning or troubleshooting. But in doing so, they will stay within the university’s “walls” without any crossover to restricted information.
CETA University is a nod to flexibility, an attribute that no business can have in too great a supply in 2022. Already involved? Recruit a contributor or a classmate or both.