A Plumber's Journey: HBI's Pedro Bruno
Pedro's Journey to Plumber
I've been in the plumbing industry for the better part of 10 years now, and one thing we lack in the field is people wanting to teach. It's one thing to go out in the field and call yourself a plumber. It's another thing to be a plumber, Here we build plumbers. There's not many places I drive around today where I can't say, Hey, I had to build that place or, Hey, I got my kid a job at that place, and I find that really rewarding.
Hi, my name is Pedro. I'm a plumbing instructor here for HBI at Pinellas County Job Corps. We're located in the heart of St. Pete down here on 22nd Avenue North. HBI is a company that trains individuals in plumbing, electrical, and building construction technologies. Over here in the shop, we've got this mock home to simulate an actual residential dwelling. So here we'll learn how to do DWV systems, Water supply systems. We use a lot of SharkBite products. We use a lot of PEX here, PEX couplings, the Whips, Dielectric Unions, things of that nature. We'll do a mock inspection, give them a pass or a fail. Our goal here is to not only get them a job, but to get them an apprenticeship."HBI is probably one of the most needed organizations in the country. We're filling the need that can't seem to be filled organically out in the construction industry", Jeremy Kennebeck, Regional Career Development Coordinator | HBI Corps.
You can just look around the neighborhood. There are skyscrapers going up on every other block and day to day it needs upkeep. So that creates a demand for young men and young women coming into the trades. And what a lot of people fail to realize is these jobs pay as well as any college-educated job out there, and that's why I think these jobs are very important and why a program like HBI is a program. In 2013, prior to me coming to an HBI trade, I was homeless. I had no marketable skills. I had no driver's license. I had no high school diploma. Through the help of HBI I was able to learn basic power tools. I was able to learn how to weld and braze while I was here. I was able to learn how to read blueprints, all the things that I need to know when I'm out there in the field. "It's pretty amazing just seeing what happens where we take a student who doesn't have a direction, we're able to help them refine what their goals are, find that employer, that career that they're looking for", Jeremy Kennebeck, Regional Career Development Coordinator at HBI Corps.
Going Back to Where It All Started
After I left and my instructor graduated me from the program I worked for the next five to seven years, I then became a journeyman plumber, and then that's when I received the call from my now colleague, Mr. Kennebeck, and he said, Hey, we're looking for a plumbing instructor. Would you be willing to come back and get back to the community?
Having Pedro back in the shop is great. I was a carpentry instructor for seven years, plumbing for two years. I never professed to be a plumber, I'm just a good teacher I guess. It was a breath of fresh air to have Pedro come in here because man, he is a plumber. He's a better plumber than I'm ever going to be, and it shows in how he's training, in students, and his outcomes,
—Jeremy Kennebeck, Regional Career Development Coordinator | HBI Corps.
Coming back and teaching was wonderful, but one of my main fears is that I wasn't going to be able to do the same level of work that I was able to do out in the field. So what I like to do is from not with my family, I'm at the gym, I'm lifting, trying to maintain my health, trying to make sure that I am able to give my students a quality level of training. There's never going to be a day where I'm not a plumber. I can transition from where I am now and be an engineer, and I'll still be a plumber. That's been ingrained in me through the teachings that I have. That's what HBI has done for me. They've given me a skillset that is not only marketable, but can't be taken away from me.
My name's Pedro Bruno, and I'm a plumbing instructor.