Energy Products Distribution (EPD) just announced a film training center will open in Charleston, S.C., in addition to its Baltimore headquarters. PPFMag spoke with its vice president and 21-year industry veteran Manny Hondroulis (MH) about the reason behind its expansion and more recent trend of training centers opening nationally.
PPFMag: So why Charleston?
MH: Charleston offers visitors the perfect combination of culture, cuisine, history, and landscape. Given that and its Sunbelt location, Charleston seemed to make a lot of sense. It’s an attractive spot to host someone to learn a new craft.
PPFMag: How long have you had this vision?
MH: EPD has been offering installation training at its Baltimore location since 2005, and we launched EPD University with consistent training offerings two years ago. We invested a lot into two training centers, formalized the brand, and made EPD University social media profiles.
PPFMag: What prompted you to start a formal training school?
MH: We looked at training as a necessary evil and never as an opportunity. So we decided to change that–especially in the face of COVID when our customers were saying the biggest threat to expansion was a shortage of installation labor. Rather than nod our heads in agreement, we wanted to do something about that. We would only train people with the expectation that they would become a branded dealer. Not everyone who would approach us would be a good fit, but rather than turn those people away, we started to train them and pair them with our dealers.
PPFMag: There has been a flood of training centers open lately. Why is that and will this trend continue?
MH: I anticipate more training centers—people need an opportunity. The majority of people coming into training are looking to get into a new field and be their own boss. They realize this field is very lucrative. There aren’t many industries that have a low barrier to entry like this.
So you’ve got an influx of new people in the industry. Either the influx of people is increasing market awareness or the increase of market awareness is bringing an influx of industry. There are a lot of new successful people in this industry who weren’t around three years ago.
PPFMag: Will this lead to an oversupply of film installers?
MH: You run that risk with pretty much everything, and that could certainly happen. In the short term, though, the answer is no. I still think you have a labor shortage, and I don’t see there being an oversupply anytime soon. At some point, an increase in demand for PPF can make up for a decrease in demand for energy film and vice versa.
EPD University’s classes are open to all.