Frigi-Temp partners with VGCC on apprenticeship

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Youngsville-based Frigi-Temp recently agreed to join forces with Vance-Granville Community College on an apprenticeship initiative. Frigi-Temp is a commercial HVAC and refrigeration service provider and licensed mechanical contractor that has been serving central North Carolina since 2001.

Company CEO Cory Thornton said that he sought to partner with the college to help recruit new technicians to keep up with demand. “Over the next few years, it’s estimated that there will be a shortage of 50,000 HVAC technicians nationwide, because the number of new people going into the industry isn’t enough to keep pace with all those who are retiring,” Thornton explained. “Demand is growing significantly, and it’s fair to say that since the greater Raleigh area is one of the best places to raise a family and has relatively high economic growth, there should be more demand here than in other areas. So that’s a problem, but also a great opportunity for people to go into a field that will pay well. Good technicians can make $70,000-80,000 a year.”

He added that the apprenticeship model involves a combination of on-the-job training at his company with formal education in the VGCC Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology program. “This gives you a straight path to a career with little to no educational debt,” Thornton said. “After approximately four years in this program, apprentices will have been employed the whole time and will have become educated.” He said his company has trained people before who came from other trades, but with the apprenticeship program, they will have the added benefit of the VGCC credential.

The CEO also wants to particularly focus the partnership on recruiting military veterans. “I’m a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and we have been intentional about hiring veterans since I joined Frigi-Temp in 2010,” Thornton said. “We want to help veterans who are still transitioning out of the service to land on their feet and start a new career.”

He said he would like for the first students in the partnership to begin as early as January 2018. Thornton noted that Frigi-Temp already employs VGCC alumni. “Two of our top technicians came through VGCC,” he said.

“We are excited that Frigi-Temp has become our first apprenticeship partner in the HVAC field, and we look forward to working with Cory and his team,” said Ken Wilson, project manager for the TechHire grant at the college and a driving force behind the VGCC “Vanguard Apprenticeship Collaborative,” which is designed to cultivate highly skilled workers for large and small companies in a number of industries.

Wilson added that VGCC is a member of the national Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC). The primary purpose of the RACC is to help graduates of registered apprenticeship programs receive college credit for their apprenticeship training through strong partnerships between businesses and educational institutions.

Students interested in enrolling in the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology program can contact program head Wesley Smith at or (252) 738-3214. Employers interested in partnering with VGCC on apprenticeships are encouraged to contact Ken Wilson at or (252) 738-3259 for more information.

Above: From left, Ken Wilson, TechHire grant project manager from VGCC, shakes hands with Cory Thornton, CEO of Frigi-Temp, at the company’s Youngsville location. (VGCC photo)