Doug Powell, president of National Switchgear, is a PEARL director and has overseen the development of the technical certification program for the past two years. National Switchgear also is a field-service company and has several NETA-certified field technicians. Tappe began as a shop technician in 1993 before moving to sales, where he works today.

“By taking the PEARL technician certification exam, it keeps me up to date on the latest safety and technical issues related to reconditioned electrical gear,” Tappe says. “This information makes me a more successful salesperson, too, because customers can tell when you understand their equipment and the problems they are having. It makes them more comfortable and solidifies the relationship. I look forward to taking the Level 2 certification when it’s ready.” According to Powell, Tappe won’t have to wait long. PEARL expects to roll out the Level 2 exam at its national conference in Cleveland in May 2015.

More than making Tappe a better sales representative and technician, the certification program will be an important part of PEARL’s efforts to make the electrical industry safer for everyone. “PEARL is stepping up and saying, ‘We’re committed to the electrical industry, quality, and safety and holding our members to the highest standards,’” Powell says. “It’s about more than having a technical standard to guide the reconditioning of electrical equipment, which PEARL has had for more than a decade. We need to prove to the industry that the people following the standard have the knowledge and expertise to recondition the equipment properly. This goes hand in hand with our efforts to get ANSI acceptance of the PEARL reconditioning standard and our ongoing discussions with NEMA about how to guarantee the safety of reconditioned electrical equipment.”

By the end of October, PEARL hopes to have certified another six technicians, assuming they all pass the independently proctored exam. By the end of the year, PEARL aims to have a study guide available, and eventually offer computer-based training (CBT) courses online for technicians wanting to increase their expertise.

“PEARL’s Technician Certification program is a boon to the industry as a whole, but it’s also a benefit to each company that employs a certified technician,” Powell says. “When you reduce warranties, improve shipping estimates, and reduce reconditioning times through greater expertise at the technician level, you improve your bottom line too. And it helps with career-path development. When a technician comes to you and says he is willing to do the work to prepare for the exam and pay for it, if necessary, then you know this is a person to watch in your organization.”

About PEARL:
Founded in 1997, the Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL) creates, collects, and disseminates information, policies, procedures, and standards to ensure the proper recycling and reuse of electrical power equipment. Its 70-plus corporate members must meet strict technical, safety, and operational requirements.

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