The folks at Noritz, a manufacturer of tankless water heaters and other gas products, know that getting plumbers and contractors on board with the benefits of installing tankless systems can be a challenge. That’s why Noritz America Corp., a division of the 61-year-old Japanese company, offers a multitude of training courses through its own Noritz University.

“The tankless industry is a specialized industry, one that requires expertise,” says Scott Isaksen, applications engineering manager at Noritz’s U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif. “Changing people’s mindset is not a quick process. It’s especially hard for [the average plumber] who’s had the same 50-gallon tank-type water heater on his truck for years.”

Noritz has found training courses to be the best vehicle for spreading the tankless gospel to plumbers and contractors. “The demand is there,” Isaksen says. “People want to be able to see a Noritz engineer face to face and have that engineer show them how a tankless water heater works.”

Last year, the company offered 300 training sessions, which were attended by more than 3,000 people. Sessions are held at all of Noritz’s five showrooms and at the offices of wholesale distributors, contractors, and engineers. “We’ll meet people in an alleyway if that’s what they want,” Isaksen jokes.

Those who attend classes receive continuing-education credits and can also be promoted to a higher level in the company’s ProCard program. Members of this program are also rated by their amount of experience installing Noritz heaters and can rise to “qualified installer” and “power installer” status. It pays off when consumers enter their ZIP code in the online Find a Distributor form. ProCardmembers with high status rise to the top of the list.

Noritz sees a new generation of plumbers hungry for more technical information. “The apprentices and sons of older plumbers are learning a new way of doing things,” Isaksen says. “Tankless water heaters are a huge growth industry with lots of room to grow and become a profitable business for plumbers. Some take a class because their boss told them to show up, but as long as they have a relatively open mind, they’re sold by the time they leave.”