The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 25, 2016 5:51 am

Company lays out cash to train in trades

Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

You’ve seen the signs around town. Korte Does it All! Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electricity, the works. 

The company founded in 1965 by patriarch Jerry Korte grew from one guy riding around in a truck to 100 people today. Korte’s headquarters on Stellhorn Road is a gleaming affair with a lobby, conference rooms and plenty of space.

On the second floor, a viewing gallery looks out over a well-stocked warehouse, just in case a customer’s hot water heater has exploded or a heating system just conked out.

Technicians fan out in the region, their trucks tracked by a GPS system that keeps them connected to job after job. And now that the cold has come, and it’s the season of burst pipes, customers will be glad to know there’s a weekend crew, taking emergency calls.

But worrying over his inventory of generators or water heaters or expanding his already successful business isn’t what keeps Jerry Korte up at night.

No, it’s the state of the trades. "We just want to get more of them (high school students) interested in it. They (students) don’t even know where to go to get into the trades," Korte says. 

He pores over publications like the Airconditioning Heating and Refrigeration News, a Troy, Michigan, publication that inspire him to expand the trades.

Headlines like "Five Ways to get Five Star Recruits into HVAC" get him thinking. Why not have a "National Signing Day" when a young man or woman announces he or she wants to get into plumbing or electrical?

"We don’t have near as many coming in as retiring," Korte said. "We have 4,000 journeyman plumbers in Indiana and a third of them are going to retire in the next three years."

As far as apprentice plumbers, almost none. "I’m talking here to South Bend, you’re lucky if you get 10 every year," he says, exasperated.

Korte was instrumental in getting the ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) training program started at East Allen County Schools two years ago and approves of the initiative at the Career Academy at Anthis that will soon offer courses in HVAC and plumbing, besides the current offerings in homebuilding, electricity, masonry and finished carpentry.

The field is wide open and there is a need in all the trades. 

What were they thinking when they cut out the trades in high school 15 years ago? he asks himself over and over. 

"No shop classes, no home ec classes. God, people need that stuff now," Korte says.

About a year ago, Korte did his own bit to help the cause. On the second floor of his Stellhorn Road sprawl, there is the Jerry A. Korte Technician Training Center. There isn’t one aspect missing there for the trades – mockups of kitchens, toilets, tubing, water heaters, circuit boards, generators, the gamut.

New hirees, East Allen students and Korte suppliers have used the facility, which he said cost him about $50,000 to $60,000 to create.

"If we don’t do it ourselves, we hire trainers to come in and do it," Korte said. 

He’s also open to other groups training at the lab, as he calls it.

"We’d work with them," he said.


• Some scholarships have deadlines this month and next. The combined value of the awards is more than $1 million. For more information on the scholarships, go to and search by name. 

Elks National Foundation Legacy Awards, $4,000. 250 Awards. Deadline: Friday. For the 2016 contest, any child or grandchild (or stepchild, stepgrandchild, or legal ward) of a living Elk who joined the order on or before April 1, 2013, or a charter member of a lodge that was instituted on or after April 1, 2013, is eligible to apply.

The applicant must be a high school senior. 

Courageous Persuaders Scholarship, $3,000. 14 Awards Deadline: Feb. 11.

Compete for scholarship dollars and a chance to air a commercial on TV.

Create a 30-second commercial to warn middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking or the dangers of texting while driving. Students can enter separate videos in both categories. The competition is open to high school students in grades 9-12. 

Points Scholarship Award, $10,000. 10 Awards. Deadline: Sunday.

Applicants must be at least 13 years old and enrolled or will enroll in a college or university in the U.S. and a legal resident of the U.S. or Puerto Rico.  

You Deserve It Scholarship, $1,000. One Award Deadline: Feb. 15.  

Applicants must be a U.S. resident, 16 or older, and enrolled now or will be enrolled in a qualified high school, college or university in the United States.   


• Local retailer United Art and Education is sponsoring a Teacher of the Year Contest. The winning teacher will receive a $250 gift card to United Art and Education. Any student is encouraged to write a short essay (250 words or less) explaining why their teacher is outstanding and turn it in to their nearest United Art and Education retail store. Entries will be accepted through April 1.

The winner will be announced during Teacher Appreciation Week in early May.

To print an entry form to accompany an essay, go to

Indiana Tech

• Indiana Tech will begin offering a bachelor of science in child development this fall at its Fort Wayne campus and online.

Students will receive a grounding in psychology courses that will provide an understanding of theory and practices related to working with children and adolescents.

They will also receive basic instruction in educational courses to provide them with an understanding of the psychosocial and physical development of children. For more information, contact Joshua Francis at or go to


Students and parents who have a favorite teacher can nominate the individual for Teacher Honor Roll. Send nominations to The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email

To submit an item, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne IN 46802-0088; fax 461-8893 or email at least two weeks before the desired publication date.

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