“You’re not learning unless you break something”

When the first signs of the Great Recession started in 2006, Andy Ramirez’ career as a land surveyor came to a screeching halt. His cousin, who at the time worked at Northern Weathermakers, suggested Andy join the company as a driver. At first he said no, but a month or so later he agreed to the interview. Soon after, he took on the role of parts driver, responsible for delivering parts and tools to job sites.

Curious by nature, it didn’t take Andy long to develop an interest in the trade.

“I would arrive at job sites to deliver parts and start asking questions. ‘What does this do…’ And ‘What is this used for…’” recalls Andy. He realized quickly that the work sparked his interest. Encouraged by his supervisor, he started taking HVAC classes at the College of Lake County. Within two years, Andy became a certified service technician.

“There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. Talking to other technicians was helpful. Our service manager had a great attitude, too. He used to say, ‘You’re not learning unless you break something. You’ve got to blow something up, like a transformer.’ He made it easier to be successful.”

A typical day entails leaving his Lindenhurst home at 5:00 am and heading into the city. Andy handles service calls at a variety of industrial, commercial and high-end residential properties. The best part of Andy’s job? When a new customer hires Northern Weathermakers to solve a problem that other HVAC companies couldn’t. “I like to be better than those other guys,” he says, laughing. “I’m very good at diagnostics, identifying a problem, and then solving it.”

One of the ways Andy likes to unwind after hours – and feed his curiosity — is to watch YouTube. He is interested in all kinds of content, from political to tool reviews. While he was recovering from knee surgery last year, he stumbled on lawn care videos. He and his wife Melissa had recently bought their first home so the topic was intriguing.

“I decided I was going to have the greenest, healthiest lawn in the neighborhood,” Andy explains.

He’s now so committed to maintaining their beautiful lawn he’s part of a Facebook Group dedicated to lawn care. (Tip for fellow homeowners: the best fertilizer, he says, is Milorganite – it won’t burn the grass.)

On weekends, weather and time permitting, you may find Andy with friends, riding mud trails on an all-terrain vehicle, or fishing — a hobby since age 10, when he’d load up his gear on a Saturday and ride his bike to the nearest watering hole. But with three active daughters, ages 4, 6 and 9, and Bella (their four-legged “child” joined the family six months ago), Andy is also content to be at home. “It’s nice coming home to a home that’s yours,” Andy says.