Heavy Metal Summer Experience 2022

Aug 22, 2022 |

High School Students Learn the Trades at Heavy Metal Summer Camp!

Mechanical Contractor Hermanson Company Offers Trade Experience to Underserved Teens


After six weeks of hands-on experience in piping, plumbing, and sheet metal, nine Auburn School District students in the #HeavyMetalSummerExperience program celebrated their graduation at Hermanson Company in Kent, WA on Thursday, August 4, 2022.

Co-founded by Hermanson Company and Western Allied Mechanical (Menlo Park, CA), the Heavy Metal Summer Experience (HMSE) is a free program for underserved high school students to gain exposure to all aspects of mechanical construction. Hermanson is committed to promoting awareness of career options for students and creating more diversity within the building trades workforce.

“Our job is to give the students experiences to explore and let them find what they’re great at and where their natural genius is,” said Rick Hermanson, CEO of Hermanson Company. “This allows kids to find what success looks like for them and learn that the building trades offer great careers, pay well, and creates the awareness that there are alternatives to college.”

With shortages of skilled tradespeople entering the industry, programs like HMSE are part of a national movement to help young people discover rewarding careers that shape the skylines of their communities. In its inaugural year in 2021, HMSE was launched at Hermanson in Washington and Western Allied Mechanical in California. This year, the program has grown to 11 hosting companies in five states across the country.

Author, TV Host, and Hermanson’s Director of Oregon Operations Nick Kasik joined the graduation celebration as a guest speaker. He shared his personal experience as someone who has built his career working in the trade industry and now promotes the trades and vocational career options.

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“These trades careers can take you places you can’t imagine if you just let it. My life has truly been an adventure, and no other career could have taken me where it’s taken me or allowed me to see what I’ve seen. It can be the same for you,” shared Kasik. “Be different, go into the trades, and allow them to take you somewhere different,” he concluded.

Over the course of the free program, these hard-working students attended training sessions hosted by Hermanson craftspeople, toured local apprenticeship centers, and learned about what a career in the trades can offer. Students showed off their skills and pride in craftmanship by creating various projects, including sheet metal lanterns, welding belt buckles, toolboxes, and more. They also toured the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 66 and Local 32 Plumbers and Pipefitters, where they met instructors and learned more about joining the trades.

“This opens the doors and shows kids that may not be able to afford college you don’t have to work minimum wage jobs. You can survive and thrive,” said Cindy Wright, whose daughter Alex graduated from the program. “We went from ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do after high school’ to ‘I’m going to join this union.’ It’s been huge.”

Thanks to generous donations from partners and sponsors, like Milwaukee Tool, Northwest Sheet Metal Workers Organizational Trust, HMSE provided each student with work boots, standard construction industry personal protection equipment (hard hat, vest, safety glasses, and gloves), and a complete toolkit. The tools and boots were theirs to take home at graduation. The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s (SMACNA) Western Washington chapter also supports the program through funding and administrative support. 

The six-week Heavy Metal Summer Experience summer career camp will return to Hermanson in 2023 when a new class of high school students is introduced to what careers in the trades can offer. Parents and students interested in attending or learning more can contact Jana Burbank at

For companies interested in hosting a HMSE camp at their facilities, please visit the Heavy Metal Summer Experience website at

Hermanson Company is a full-service mechanical contracting, engineering, and service company with over 700 employees in Washington and Oregon. 




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Interested media are more than welcome to attend any future session, and HMSE will be happy to provide partners for interviews, as well as access to photos and videos from past camps. If you wish to come to Hermanson Company for one of the sessions, please get in touch with Hermanson Communications Manager via email at