Internship program helps dealer prepare for personnel future
Paul Lauttamus, president of Lauttamus Communications—a 65-employee radio dealership that primarily serves western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the state of West Virginia—talks about changes in the company’s practices for hiring and training personnel. These changes are particularly important in light of many members of the LMR technical staff approaching retirement age and a recent commitment to support broadband—as well as LMR—solutions.
This is the first of a multipart series examining Lauttamus Communications’ future plans and growth strategies conveyed during a recent conversation with IWCE’s Urgent Communications Editor Donny Jackson.
When did you decide to jump into the broadband world?
“About a year-and-a-half ago. It’s definitely changed the way we train our staff. We’re now looking for IT [information-technology] professionals with a background in IP connectivity.
Have you had more luck trying to train LMR personnel to learn IT, or training someone with an IT background about LMR?
“We find that it is easier to teach an LMR guy IT. It’s very hard to teach an IT guy LMR—the comfort level of the products in RF and engineering, they’re just not as comfortable, unless it’s IT. So, we can train them going from LMR to IT, but we have not had success training them from IT to LMR.”
Are your LMR guys typically the older ones, and are you trying to figure out, ‘What am I going to do when these guys retire?’
“Yes. That’s a topic that we review on a weekly basis with our HR [human resources] and our service manager. We have three intern programs with three of the local colleges in our region for LMR and security. It’s been an extremely effective way to bring on new staff.”
Is it difficult to convince a college student to pursue LMR training?
“Typically, we’re contacted by the local colleges that they have communications and security interns, and they ask us whether we would be interested in hosting an intern for a semester. We’ve been doing this now for eight years. Each year, we have at least one student per semester from one of the three colleges that have interned with us.
“LMR—because it’s become more about IT and IP connectivity—is becoming a sexier position for them to want to look at. They see the importance of being able to work on developing mission-critical networks for healthcare, gaming and public safety, so they enjoy it. Now, they’re seeing the prospect that they don’t have to work in the oil fields and work long hours and not be available to their families.”
“At least once per year, and sometimes twice per year, we hire the interns that we have. They work on the front lines and get hands-on experience with our intern program.”
Do you feel better about where your personnel situation will be in 10 years because of this?
“Without a doubt. I would definitely be concerned, if we didn’t have a strong intern program and retention program within our organization.”