Our 2021 apprentices celebrated their completion ceremony on Saturday, April 24. New HVAC-Refrigeration technicians Jacob Majeski, Mike LaRosa, and Shane Donovan were profiled in the Lowell Sun. Read the full coverage below:
New class of Billerica HVAC technicians looks to
prepare buildings for return to in-person work
May 26, 2021
By Stefan Gellar
Jacob Majeski, formerly of Billerica, who recently moved to Westford, a 2015 graduate of Shawsheen Tech, who got interested in HVAC while at Shawsheen, and recently finished a pipefitter apprenticeship program. JULIA MALAKIE/LOWELLSUN
BILLERICA — Like many graduates of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, Jacob Majeski’s interest in working with his hands began at an early age, helping his electrician father with whatever small jobs popped up around the house.
But it wasn’t until he reached Shawsheen and went through an exploratory program that his true calling revealed itself: HVAC work.
“HVAC has a little bit of everything: some plumbing work, some piping, you get to do a lot of electrical work, and on top of everything else you get to deal with all the refrigerants and all the chemicals. So I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” Majeski said. “There’s no way I’m ever going to get bored in the HVAC trade. There’s always something new to learn and something new to do.”
At just 24 years old, the Billerica native has already kicked off his dream career, as he was one of 14 Merrimack Valley residents to graduate from the Pipefitters Local 537’s apprentice program last month.
As newly-minted journeypersons, Majeski and his fellow graduates will install and service ventilation systems at buildings across the state, ensuring they are well-prepared for professionals about return to in-person work.
“I feel extremely lucky to be where I’m at today,” said Billerica resident and HVAC technician Mike LaRosa. “Both of my sisters work in the service industry and because of COVID they were unemployed for quite a long time, so I feel like I kind of won the lottery.”
Similarly, graduates who became certified pipefitters will build piping infrastructure throughout the region, meeting a clarion call President Biden made at the end of March when he announced his American Jobs Plan.
Specifically, Biden said that pipefitters will be key in “replacing 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American, every child, can turn on a faucet or fountain and drink clean water.”
“It’s incredible and I think he’s correct,” said Billerica resident and HVAC technician Shane Donovan. “All these buildings need piping and pipefitters, and the more work we can get the better for everyone.”
Completing the union’s apprenticeship amid the coronavirus pandemic was not without its challenges, however.
Like most other students, the apprentices had to split their time between in-person and remote learning, a particularly complicated issue for those learning a hands-on trade.
“It was tough, you can’t really get the full experience through Zoom, because a lot of the way that we learn in this trade is with our hands,” Majeski said. “We lost out on that, but we still made it through.
Majeski, LaRosa and Donovan all said that the union officials did an exceptional job educating them in spite of the circumstances however, and added that they’re excited to start contributing to workplaces as coronavirus restrictions begin to get lifted.
“I feel blessed and I think it’s going to be great as the economy starts opening up and people are going back to work,” Donovan said. “People are going to want to build more which is going to mean more pipefitters, so it’s great for my union brothers and myself.”
In total, seven of the graduates hail from or live in Billerica, while two come from Tewksbury, and two come from Lowell and Chelmsford.