Greenwood-based Peterman Brothers is nearing completion of a nearly $6 million facility that will house Top Tech Academy’s training program. Launched in late 2020, the program was created to address labor shortages in skilled trades, including HVAC and plumbing technicians. “Rather than sit around and complain, we had to find really good people and then teach them the technical side of things, and that’s how it came about,” said President Chad Peterman.
In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Peterman said they recognized early on that there was a huge demand for this type of training.
“In our first grade, we had over 1,000 applicants for the school to fill 17 spots, so we had our work to do,” Peterman said. “What made us happy was the great interest in a trade.”
The academy is currently operated from the company’s former headquarters in Greenwood, but has not been located since. Peterman said they bought 25 acres of land adjacent to its current headquarters to construct the 54,000-square-foot building that will house not only the academy but also warehouses and inventory for the company.
“Our learning center where the Top Tech Academy will be [will feature] a fully functioning laboratory,” he said. “We have a 5,000-square-foot lab here with … basically a built-in house for students to study in and fully functional HVAC systems. We are planning almost 70 students for our next class.”
As Indiana’s college student population continues to decline, Peterman said it’s important to provide more opportunities for high school graduates.
“The great thing about our program is that we pay students to learn, so they essentially go through an 8-12 week program while receiving compensation. And then they are directly in the workforce and have no debt. So you’re not paying off huge student loans and things like that. They produce out there.”
Since its inception, Top Tech Academy has graduated approximately 150 students, with approximately 43 students currently progressing through the program.
With the new facility slated for completion in the next three to four weeks, Peterman said the academy will add electrical service and HVAC equipment and installation courses in addition to its HVAC and plumbing service courses.
Peterman Brothers currently offers services in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Lafayette and Muncie. Peterman says they have long-term plans to continue developing the curriculum and hopefully expand the academy to more locations.
“Really, our goal over the next year or two as we continue to expand — we’re looking at areas in northern Indiana, one in Terre Haute, and even further south — is to figure out how we can scale this academy that she really really serves the entire state of Indiana. Of course, I can’t have a student drive from South Bend to Indy for class every day, so we set up more locations that way and still have the same impact through the curriculum and training.”
You can find out more about the academy here.