Above / Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman and CEO Brien Sheahan; Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico (with big scissors); Melvin D. Williams, Nicor Gas president; and Hank Lingenfelter, Southern Company Gas executive vice president, participated in today’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Nicor Gas Training Center on Ferry Road.

June 11, 2018 / Nearly 100 folks gathered today for the official opening of the new Nicor Gas Training Center, located at 1616 Ferry Road.

Speakers included Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, members of the Illinois Commerce Commission and Nicor Gas President Melvin Williams.

Naperville City Councilman Patty Gustin and Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nicki Anderson attended the presentation that included an overview of the past, present and future of Nicor, cited by Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman and CEO Brien Sheahan as “the most diverse public service division in the United States.”

And everyone in attendance learned about Nicor’s community spirit, growth, job training and employment opportunities.

Since 1954, Nicor Gas has been delivering safe, reliable natural gas service to Illinois customers. Today safety is top of the mind more than ever.

This morning’s tour of nine stations, inside and outside, included classrooms in the new state-of-the-art training facility that will prepare employees for today’s jobs as well as the changes that come with advanced technology. Nicor instructors highlighted a variety of career opportunities available to dedicated employees seeking to advance. Mindful that the industry always is evolving, Nicor officials said they encourage the next generation to learn more about energy and to explore the diverse career opportunities in the energy industry.

Spacious indoor training classrooms, outfitted with necessary equipment, tools and supplies, are dedicated to seven areas of learning.  Greg Konwinski, a Nicor inventor and the day’s tour guide for the “Purple Group,” explained that every room was named to honor a past President of the United States and his association with energy.  For instance, the first call center training room is named for President Jimmy Carter. (This editor recalls that early in Carter’s administration from 1977-1981, the President donned a sweater to urge consumers to conserve energy and reduce fuel consumption.) 

Stops at each station included information as well as demonstrations on some of the training that is required for all new employees. 

‘Every Job, Every Day Safe’

During a quick visit to the Break Room, Konwinski pointed to the big screen monitor that was playing a looped video titled “Every Job, Every Day Safe.”

“The award-winning video was recognized for its production and content,” Konwinski noted, as he led his group to the next training area. 

Other classrooms provided instruction for meter reading, utility specialists, medic and first aid; welding for steel pipes; a fusion lab; system operations; a pipe fitting lab; and the appliance lab. The appliance lab was an exhibit of residential stoves, water heaters and heaters as well as commercial stoves, stove tops, pizza ovens and baking ovens, each with a unique gas hook up.

One of two outdoor field stations showcased crane training, leak fields and fire suppression. The other one titled “Industrial Bionamics” included a slip simulator, a unit to teach how to prevent slips and falls. Slip-falls are the biggest injury to Nicor workers, the instructor said.

Whether working in the field for Nicor Gas or not, that outdoor training exercise provided knowledge everyone can use to reduce slip, trip and fall injuries. Note: When walking on icy sidewalks or other slippery conditions, use slow “marching steps” to help avoid slip falls, the instructor said. “Science supports it,” she added.

Safety emphasized in every demonstration

The safety of employees, customers, communities and pipelines is Nicor’s highest priority, and training is a key component to keeping everyone safe, Nicor President Williams said in his opening remarks.

Nearly 50 percent of the energy workforce will retire in the next 5-10 years, according to the Center for Energy Workforce Development. It is essential that that knowledge is transferred to newer employees.

At the new training center, which happens to be adjacent to Nicor Gas’ Naperville headquarters, Contact Center employees and field employees will learn how to serve customers in an efficient, safe and caring manner.

Nicor Gas is one of seven natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company. Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the City of Chicago. 

And as the energy business grows and changes, new positions are being developed and the need for training increases.

Nicor Gas has hired more than 1,000 new employees in the last four years with plans to hire more this year.

For more information about Nicor or career opportunities, visit www.nicorgas.com.

Jennifer Golz, Manager, PR & Media Relations, Corporate Communications, contributed to this story for Nicor Gas. (PN Photos)