Mobile Messaging Case Study

Local 16 Supports Apprentice Success with Mobile Messaging Solution (Cont'd)

About Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 16

Heat & Frost Insulators, Allied Workers Facts

Business Needs

Ability to better communicate training program information and updates to apprentices with increased confidence the messages will be accessed and read

Networking Solution

AT&T Messaging Toolkit enables Local 16 to communicate up-to-date information to apprentices

Business Value

Improved training attendance; higher response rates; reduced costs; stronger union member relationships

Industry Focus

Local union


Approximately 100 apprentices

For more than a century, Local 16 of the Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers has provided its members with services, including an apprenticeship program. Part of the 60-local union network of the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, Local 16 serves approximately 650 active and retired members in northern California and northwest Nevada. The local union also provides approximately 100 apprentices each year with classroom and on-site training on insulation installation and safety practices.


Local 16 needed a dependable way to get time-sensitive, often daily, messages to its apprentices. Leaving voicemail messages for each student was not efficient, taking hours to complete, and sending email messages was not effective since many students did not access and read these messages in a timely manner.


AT&T Messaging Toolkit enables Local 16 to organize and quickly send text messages to all its apprentices. Groups may be created for sending relevant communications. Apprentices immediately and reliably read text messages, keeping them informed and engaged in the training program. This has improved class attendance, increased graduation rates and lowered costs associated with make-up sessions.

Energy Conservation Specialists

Many people don't realize the role insulation plays in their everyday lives. When installed properly, insulation in commercial buildings not only ensures comfort against heat and cold, it improves the quality of in-building air for health and well being. Insulation can also serve as a protective barrier against fires, keeping them contained for fire fighters to extinguish.

The email and text combination [sent by AT&T Messaging Toolkit] works very well for our apprentices and for me. We no longer send schedules through the mail, which saved us time and money.”

Bill Hodges, President, Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 16

When it comes to installing and servicing the needs of insulation in commercial and industrial settings, the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers supports its members with services designed to make them the best in the industry. Its 60 local unions serve the needs of local members throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Local 16 invests in young men and women who want careers as “journeymen” via its Apprenticeship Training Program. The apprenticeship program is as demanding as the journeyman’s job. Apprentices must complete five years or 716 hours of classroom education and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, learning the latest insulation installation techniques, asbestos removal, and safety practices regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Bill Hodges, president of Local 16, heads the apprenticeship program. For more than 35 years, Hodges worked as a journeyman. As a result, he fully understands the rigor and risks of the profession, yet stresses the importance of the job for workers and the environment.

“We insulate mechanical systems in industrial settings like oil refineries and nuclear power plants,” explained Hodges. “One of our major goals is to protect the people working in these environments. With pipes that can heat up to over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit or freeze to temperatures well below zero, we work to keep the heat and cold where it belongs, inside the pipes and out of the rooms where people work.

“Insulation’s effect on energy efficiency is staggering,” continued Hodges. “With properly installed insulation, we can control and minimize lost energy for a significant impact on the environment. We teach apprentices how to properly apply insulation for the maximum amount of energy conservation.”

Curbing Absenteeism

Becoming a journeyman takes time and dedication. Attendance in training classes is mandatory along with passing a final exam.

“We’re a production-driven trade,” said Hodges. “We teach our apprentices how to work smart and be as productive as possible. Absenteeism can be a major problem for them and me. If they miss a day of class, they miss eight hours of instruction. They must make up the session or drop the class.”

Hodges put policies in place to curb absenteeism from 30 percent in 2010 to nine percent in 2012. Another effort to achieve near-perfect attendance was Hodge’s frequent voicemail and email reminders to apprentices about weekly classes. “I am very supportive of our students and have high expectations for their performance,” said Hodges. “We’re not just training insulators, we’re building workers with character. Sending them reminders to ensure they are in class is just one way we help them be successful.”

Initially, Hodges called each student about changes to the weekly schedule. “No one picked up their phone, so I would leave a message,” said Hodges. “With more than 100 students in training, I spent hours every week doing this simple task. In the end, I wasn’t sure if they received my messages. It was frustrating.”

Next, Hodges sent text messages using his smartphone. “I could only send the reminder text message to 10 students at one time,” explained Hodges. “It was a much better way to communicate with them yet still took a significant amount of my time.”

A long-time customer, Hodges called on AT&T for assistance. “My AT&T mobility specialist knew immediately what I needed,” said Hodges. “I’m now using the AT&T Messaging Toolkit to easily get messages to our apprentices.”

Receipt Confirmed

With the AT&T Messaging Toolkit, Hodges can now text his entire group of apprentices, taking minutes instead of hours. “It was easy to set up. The first time I sent out a blast text to the group, everybody responded that they got the message. Many of them responded, ‘Wow, this is great.’”

Hodges asks that everyone respond with a “Y” upon reading the message to confirm its receipt. “With voicemail, I never heard from most apprentices,” said Hodges. “With text messaging, I hear from nearly 100 percent of them that same day.”

He has also created groups for each class for sending specific text messages. “If I have to change a session for just the second-year class, I can text them and not everyone else. I’m not wasting everyone’s time by sending messages that don’t apply. I also believe the AT&T Messaging Toolkit has boosted our organization’s professionalism.”

For longer messages like announcing a new schedule, Hodges uses the AT&T Messaging Toolkit to send email messages followed by text messages. “I send the schedule via email, then text everyone to look for it in their inboxes,” explained Hodges. “The email and text combination works very well for our apprentices and for me. We no longer send schedules through the mail, which saved us time and money.”

In fact, all stakeholders save time and money when absenteeism is low. “When apprentices have to make-up missed sessions, their employers lose their productivity for that day,” explained Hodges. “The apprentices lose wages during make-up days. It costs me my time by being in the classroom rather than performing all of my other responsibilities. Multiply all this by 100 apprentices and you can see how the lost productivity, costs and wages really add up.”

Supporting Success

Hodges also plans to set up groups for the 200 retired members in Local 16 and the surviving spouses of deceased members. “The wives of our deceased members are very much a part of our union family,” said Hodges. “We want to stay in touch with them for stronger ties and relationships.”

He expects that monthly notifications about union meetings and other important topics like insurance coverage will be well received. “I frequently hear from retirees that they forgot about a meeting. I can now easily provide them with a reminder service and increase participation. “The AT&T Messaging Toolkit is a good investment for us,” explained Hodges. “As I use it more, it continues to prove its worth.”

For Hodges, the value of using the AT&T Messaging Toolkit can be summarized in two ways: support and success. “I’m here to help these young people be successful in their careers,” said Hodges. “In our union, whether retired or just starting out, we’re here to support each other.”

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