From Williamsport to Boston, states including Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, and Canada, one local heating business can add China to the list of places work has taken the mechanics.
Brad Forney, a mechanic for Steam Specialists, 2948 Heshbon Road, visited Dalian Bingshan Metal Technology Co., Dalian, China. The company needed help troubleshooting and fixing a hot air make-up unit that takes air from the outside, heats it and brings it into the building.
It was not a fancy website or Facebook page that gathered attention, since Steam Specialists does not have either of them. They previously worked for Coward Environmental Services Inc., who recommended them to the international company.
At a business meeting, Brad Forney, back row left, and Rick Miller, back row right, pose with the engineers of Dalian Bingshan Metal Technology Co., Dalian, China. During the trip from Oct. 23 to 29, Forney and Miller showed the engineers how to fix any problems with a hot air make-up unit.
"There were 12 guys," Forney said. "The engineers were very smart, very intelligent. They were the nicest people in the world. All they wanted to do was please us."
While he taught the engineers how to use the equipment, Forney, and fellow mechanic, Rick Miller, learned the culture of the area over dinner.
"They asked us, 'Do you want to go to an American restaurant?'" Forney said. "'No! I want to see what you want to eat.'"
Even when they did visit a Pizza Hut, the experience varied completely from its American counterpart. Forney said they served a lot of Chinese food in the restaurant, as well as liqueurs and alcohol.
Miller noticed the people were friendlier than he was used to seeing.
"You could smile at everyone and they would smile back," he said.
Their hosts did not allow Forney and Miller to carry their toolboxes or open the doors.
They went to a bar for a Halloween party, where they kept receiving drinks and toasts. They learned how to say 'thank you' in Chinese and how to use chopsticks, which came as a challenge.
Wherever the mechanics went, they noticed how crowded the area was.
Forney described Dalian as about the length of Jersey Shore to Hughesville, but with six million people in it.
"Dalian is not a real big area," he said. "We could have walked to North Korea. It's a major growing population. The high rises are going up everywhere."
Heidi Yu, manager of the sales department for the metal technology company, served as an interpreter. With 12 engineers to talk to, and just one interpreter, communication became difficult at times.
"They were treating us like little babies and we were doing the same," Forney said. "(Yu) could speak so well."
Anytime Yu did not understand something, Forney said her iPhone went back and forth to solve the communication problems.
For Miller, the trip was his first out of the country and the first time he landed in a plane because he used his first plane ride to go skydiving.
Forney does not expect to be invited back to Dalian to work because his task was teaching the company engineers how to use the air make-up unit, which they now can do.
"If they ever asked us to go back to help, I absolutely would," he said. "They probably won't though. ... It's time to go somewhere else."