Category: News

Granite State Trade School will teach the newbies and provide continuing education for licensing credentials

By Kathleen D. Bailey Special to the Union Leader, Aug 13, 2023

Jim Fusco gestured to a PowerPoint slide depicting a natural gas tank. “Is this correctly installed?” he asked a group of intent students at his Granite State Trade School in Raymond.

“No, of course not,” Fusco answered his own question. “It’s in front of a window.”

These and less-obvious questions are explored on a daily basis at Fusco’s business, the Granite State Trade School. He’s the owner and lead instructor of a school which trains professionals for the in-demand “trades” (plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical, propane and natural gas) and helps them keep their certification and skills fresh.

On a hot July morning, the vehicles in Fusco’s parking lot represented a number of household names, at least for house owners: Heritage Plumbing and Heating. Mr. Rooter. Paul the Plumber. The trucks and vans spilled over to an unpaved overflow lot, and almost crowded that out. License plates told another story: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, even one from Maine. The natural gas professionals from three states had come to Raymond to learn about changes in their profession, and to requalify toward making their clients’ homes comfortable and safe.

Inside the building, men sat at comfortable desks, big enough for a guy to spread out, and take notes on their phones or the printed material Fusco has provided. Fusco, a genial silver-haired man, explained a PowerPoint listing the changes in natural gas installation. His two miniature poodles, Book and Page, wandered around courting scratches behind the ears.

Fusco and his wife Janice opened Granite State Trade School LLC in 2007. Fusco had worked as a licensed plumber in Massachusetts. “I’ve been a plumber all my life,” he said. He owned his own business across the border. He came to New Hampshire to work for Energy North as a trainer in natural gas and propane services.

When his position with Energy North disappeared in a merger, Fusco decided to go out on his own. He had the content knowledge and the teaching skills. He taught from facilities on the Route 28 Bypass in Hooksett and East Industrial Park in Manchester before finding the freestanding building on Old Manchester Road in Raymond. The building had formerly housed special education services, so the zoning was already in place for a school. They moved into the Raymond building in December 2013.

Fusco’s first official courses in the new digs were classes to be licensed as a gas technician in the state of New Hampshire. He moved from there to training plumbing apprentices. He now offers training in oil, gas, plumbing, heating and electrical work, both on a basic level and for continuing education for professionals in the field.

In 2007-08 Fusco taught 40 to 50 students per year. “Now it’s a few hundred,” he said. He makes use of outside instructors and is always looking for more.

On that one July morning he had 50 students, both in-house and online. While some like Leo Breton of Waterboro, Maine, drove down, others, in places like Berlin, take the course by Zoom.

Though Breton lives in Maine, he works a lot in New Hampshire, and he said he is required to take his classes in the Granite State. But it’s worth it, Breton said. “It’s very important to keep up with the changes.”

Ron Waitkus has been in the field for 18 years and has attended several of Fusco’s sessions. “Jim is very knowledgeable,” Waitkus said during a break. “He’s good at putting things in laymen’s terms. And if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll find out.”

Over 18 years, it’s become important for Waitkus to find those answers. “There has been a lot more thought about safety,” he said.

Tom Makarow works for Paul the Plumber out of Derry, and has been in the field 12 years. “It’s good to know the code changes,” he said. “The code changes frequently. It’s gonna happen.”

Many of Fusco’s students are already employed, in one of many fields, he said. They have to meet licensing requirements, so continuing education is a part of what he does. He said 95% of his students are already employed in one of the trades, adding that some high school students take more basic courses when they can fit them in. He has a separate training building in the rear for hands-on education.

Fusco recommends the trades as a career, noting, “There’s always steady employment.” The average age of a licensed plumber is 58, he said, “and there aren’t enough people coming up to fill these slots.”

Janice is a full partner in the business, running the office, taking registrations and helping Jim compile the booklets of updates needed for each continuing education session. “The state has specific requirements, and the instructors have to go every December for updates,” she said, adding that Fusco starts building his presentations a year in advance.

She’s proud of her husband, noting, “If someone calls and says, ‘Do you know such-and-such a code?’ Jim can recite it off the top of his head.”

For more information on Granite State Trade School, call 603-895-4444 or visit


New Gas Course Pricing Announced

Granite State Trade School has reduced tuition on all of its Gas Courses, and if you sign up for 3 gas courses, you can save even more. Effective as of July 1st, 2022

Register for 3 Gas Course and Save!

Companies registering 4 or more employees receive an additional discount of $ 100.00 per student.

Course Tuition Financing Available
Granite State Trade School is offering convenient financing that allows you to pay the $3,000 tuition costs over 22 weeks.

Tuition must be paid in full with no outstanding payments to receive Course Certificates.
Payments must be paid in full 1 week prior to the final exam for each course.
Any outstanding balances will prevent the student from taking the final exam.
No Discount applied to Single Course Registrations

Payment Schedule:


GSTS Voted Best Trade School in Best of 603 Contest

Thanks for casting your vote and supporting us in Manchester Radio Group’s Best of the 603 contest which celebrates places, restaurants and local businesses in New Hampshire.

Manchester Radio Group’s Best of the 603 had over 2,500 businesses, organizations, and individuals competing to be named in the top three spots of 243 categories.

During our voting, more than 50,000 votes were cast, an amazing response in the first year and a testament to how customers, fans, and friends feel about their favorite local businesses and the pride they have for New Hampshire.

GSTS adds PHCC Fast Track to Service Plumbing online course

GSTS partners with the Plumbing- Heating Contractors Association to offer online fast track training for plumbing service and repair. This PHCC Academy® course allows you to enroll at any time and learn at your own pace over 12 to 18 months.

The course provides comprehensive entry-level training*, designed for contractors by contractors, for employees who need to be job-ready with a good understanding of plumbing systems for residential and commercial applications. The course is designed to provide a path to success by involving the employee’s supervisor in their hands-on training.

Granite State Trade School graduates first class of Advanced Service Technician Specialists

Granite State Trade School recently graduated their first class of Advanced Service Technician Specialists. The Advanced Service Technician patch reassures customers that the technician working on their equipment has specialized training and will provide the highest level of expertise in working on their natural gas and propane appliances.

The course provides hands-on recognition for properly servicing and troubleshooting gas appliances as well as the proper startup and testing required by most manufacturers. Instruction is given on safely servicing, troubleshooting, and repairing natural gas and propane operated appliances and equipment. Customers look at technicians who have achieved their Advanced Service Technician status with confidence.

Jim Fusco talks about Coronavirus impact on repairs and upgrades on WMUR

Watch the video

With businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, one industry is in such high demand it needs to train and hire more workers.

Jim Fusco, owner of the Granite State trade school in Raymond, said requests have poured in for qualified people to handle repairs and upgrades.

“Putting in ultra-violet lights in the warm air and AC systems to kill off bacteria, and they’re also supplying additional filters, HEPA filters and the like, to try to keep this under control,” Fusco said.

His trade school, as a chapter of the National Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association, offers online education – another need during the pandemic.

“You want to be the best you can be, you want to make serious money,” Fusco said. “I’ve got guys who come in here who are making well over six figures and people don’t realize that there are good paying jobs in the trades.”