Engineering, procurement and construction services for industrial refrigeration projects
International Cooling Tower (ICT) provides turnkey industrial cooling tower solutions that provide customers with improved cost management and a dedicated design, engineering, procurement, construction management and implementation team that ensures a project is completed on time and within budget.
ICT’s 64-year history has left a rich corporate legacy; The company has acquired extensive know-how working on major projects for major US and Canadian clients.
While ICT’s commitment to safety, quality, innovation, engineering, project planning and environmental sustainability has been at the heart of its best practices over the years, it has added a new dimension to its services that will help shape a more diverse identity in the future .
ICT has discovered that it operates in the people-building industry while its people literally build (construct) industry. For this reason, the company attaches great importance to its employees – in particular to the training of its employees. It devotes enormous resources to a training program that shapes both its own human resources and those of the sector as a whole. After an e-learning component has been authored, ICT courses are delivered through the Health And Safety Council (HASC) and through ICT’s own on-site training facility at its LaPorte, Texas shipyard.
“Over the past decade, we have seen a decline in the skilled labor force related to math, engineering, site surveying and mechanical operations,” said Aaron Schumann, Director of Construction USA at ICT. “With a mill building program available to the public through our partnership with HASC, our focus is on developing the best talent for our business, but also for the market at large. The e-learning courses are open to the public, not only ICT employees.”
Schumann said that with the long-running mass exodus of people from the construction/crafts sector, ICT has recognized its need to take care of people. The way he sees it, a person can go through the eLearning training and then work for someone else.
“I think it’s a linear path of relationships where we can lead our guests to success, which will ultimately make our clients successful,” Schumann said.
Some ICT staff who have gone through e-learning and on-site training eventually go to someone else. However, most of these employees also return to ICT.
“Ensuring we don’t retrain and go through the same growing pains of building a new project team really shortens this iteration. The learning curve flattens out and allows them to be more efficient,” Schumann said.
ICT Project Manager Rick Mobley added: “We want ICT to be synonymous with a good workforce, be community oriented and help the industry.”
The people, the culture, the continuous training and development of the company’s employees make ICT an industry leader. Its field service activities total over 1,000,000 man hours annually and the company employs over 800 people throughout North America.
Upcoming mechanical training
ICT, which is currently offering e-learning courses for cooling tower technicians at HASC, is very excited about a new mechanical training module it is developing and will be rolling out across HASC and on-site at ICT’s construction yard. The so-called Millwright program is divided into three e-learning levels.
ICT is developing an industry standard for cooling tower training
“Our CEO, Brent Middleton, is pushing to reinvent the culture around employee training and development,” said Schumann.
The hands-on mechanical training, some of which is conducted in a 20 foot tall, 26 foot by 26 foot cooling tower simulator, is unparalleled in the cooling tower industry. The simulator is the same cooling tower component that the company has built across North America.
“We are developing a Millwright program that will offer a three-tier e-learning training course delivered through HASC that will be dovetailed with hands-on mechanical training at our manufacturing facility,” said Angelica Reyes, ICT’s marketing coordinator. “Upon completion, ICT will be in the unique position of being the only cooling tower company with a customized training program offered at HASC. Even after completion, our brand will be added to the sponsorship banner at HASC. Anyone who enters the training facility, whether for pipe welding or any other type of training, will find that ICT has developed competency-based components which are then further enhanced through on-site training.”
Reyes added that ICT’s training program is also helpful when applying for jobs. “Customers always want to know what we do for our employees and whether we are putting them on the road to success.”
The reason for rigorous training
“ICT takes that extra push when it comes to mechanical training and has developed a challenging program for mill builders to produce high-quality employees,” said Carlos Sandoval, foreman at ICT.
“Also, to understand our rigorous training, small imperfections in mechanical equipment can lead to catastrophic failures,” added Sandoval. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be lost when mechanical equipment isn’t done right – loss of contract, tarnished reputation and many other aspects, including safety, are at stake when installing or maintaining equipment.”
“If a fan assembly fails, the unit has to drop rates, which costs thousands of dollars per minute,” Sandoval said. “ICT takes this very seriously, right down to the core of our company.”
Sandoval and a colleague take part in a special mechanical training program at the College of the Mainland in Texas City. Upon completion, Sandoval will be a subject matter expert in mechanical vibration. Sandoval told the story when he started working at ICT five years ago. He said he was already mechanical and knew what he was doing when it came to machines.
“Although ICT recognized my skills when I was hired, they didn’t let me service or assemble mechanical equipment myself until a year and a half later. Trust plays a huge role in this area of cooling towers, and it can only come with time and training.”
ICT employees must pass Millwright III and Millwright II to qualify for hands-on training. The hands-on training topics are the same as those listed for the HASC Millwright I e-learning class.
Training prepares guests for success
In the midst of large, attention-grabbing projects and announcements, training doesn’t typically get a prominent place for most companies. That is why the industry drew attention to ICT.
After completing an e-learning course or on-site training, ICT employees receive a certification that matches a description on their badges of which courses have been attended and passed.
Schumann said that the question of training comes up again and again: “So we have reached a point where we have noticed that we have to do something in the field of training.” This led to the first ICT e-learning courses at HASC.
Training as a cooling tower technician
The company currently offers a three-part eLearning course made possible by HASC. The Cooling Tower Technician Training course is not only available for ICT employees, but for everyone.
ICT employees who take part in the e-learning courses also train on site at the ICT building yard. The face-to-face part of the training, which started in 2019, accompanies each level of the e-learning courses.
Each e-learning training course developed by ICT lasts 60 to 90 minutes and covers different topics.
HASC learning techniques for adults
HASC has added several adult learning techniques that make e-learning training courses more effective. Pre-tests draw learners’ attention to key objectives; Animations, sound effects and professional images engage the learner throughout the training; varied narration so that the learner does not get used to just one narrator; passive and active interactions, meaning that HASC wants the learner to interact with the training in some way, rather than just being a passive observer as it automatically progresses; and scenario-based questions, so that the learner is placed in a scenario and has to apply what they have learned.
Hiring and Recruitment
ICT moved into its new US corporate headquarters in January 2022, which also includes the new recruitment center with its own entrance on the side of the building. People who enter the recruitment center in search of a job will receive an application, a questionnaire and have the opportunity to meet with the recruitment manager at this time. Next, new hires work with construction coordinators and begin the onboarding process, which includes drug testing and a background check. Then they are given their PPE, overalls, helmets and monitors.
ICT conducts numerous job fairs across North America, where many of the people it employs today are hired.
The past of ICT and its bright future
ICT started out as a small company focused on optimizing the cooling capabilities of installations using only the highest quality materials and components. This is still true today, but over the years ICT has grown into a North American leader in the design, manufacture and field service of industrial cooling towers. ICT has expanded across the US with offices in locations such as Deer Park and La Porte, Texas; Chandler, Arizona; and Edmonton, Alberta. Integrity, experience and the pursuit of innovative solutions form the foundations on which ICT’s current long-term business relationships are built.
Now more than ever, with additional e-learning courses and on-site training – and soon detailed mechanical training – ICT is not only putting resources into its own people but into the cooling tower industry as a whole. The Company is cultivating a well educated workforce that is well positioned to adapt and adapt to changes within the industry while remaining at the forefront of North American cooling tower expertise.
For more information, visit ictower.com or call (832) 780-6900.