North American Technician Excellence (NATE), Arlington, VA, will recognize five “Top Techs” during HVAC Comfortech 2009.

NATE’s Top Techs for 2009 are:
• Tom Bush, HCE Systems, Norton, VA
• John Drye, MJ Hayward Mechnical/Electrical, West Lebanon, NH
• Keith Kane, Thermal Services, Inc. Omaha, NE
• Bob Millen, Adams Electric, Pratt, KS
• Thomas Neary, Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning
Rochester, NY.

Comfortech 2009 — Succeed. Grow. Dominate.— will be held in Nashville, TN, Sept. 23-26. hvaccomfortech.com.

To be honored as a Top Tech, the technician must be a practicing technician in the field, and must hold NATE’s senior certification (Efficiency Analyst); and at least four other NATE certifications.

“On behalf of NATE, we congratulate these five technicians who have worked hard to continually master their HVACR skills and who have helped to raise the level of professionalism in the industry,” says Rex Boynton, president of NATE. “We encourage all technicians across the country to follow their lead and take steps to seek certification.”

With approximately 40 years of HVAC experience, Tom Bush holds five certifications plus Efficiency Analyst. Currently employed at HCE Systems, Inc., in Norton, VA, Tom’s experience includes designing HVAC and mechanical systems and working for design/construction firms. His formal education includes studying Mechanical Engineering for three years after high school, as well as graduating Summa Cum Laude from the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program at Mountain Empire Community College. He is also recognized as a master HVAC technician and master electrician in Virginia and as a Journeyman HVAC mechanic in Kentucky. In addition to NATE, he is a member of RSES.

“NATE is unique because it’s been accepted industry-wide. I’m certain this industry-wide acceptance is due at least in part because of the high standards which NATE has established in the certification process,” Bush says.

“Technicians and contractors across the country have learned that the NATE tests are difficult but fair. NATE certification separates the professional technician from others in the industry and I recommend that all service and installation technicians take the NATE exams and become certified in their area of HVAC work.”

With five NATE certifications plus an Efficiency Analyst designation, John Drye works at MJ Hayward Mechanical/Electrical in West Lebanon, N.H.

He has been in the commercial HVACR business for three and a half years. Prior to working for MJ Hayward, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps where he received his initial HVAC training and EPA certification. Still in the Marine Reserves, John works for the Marine for Life Program. In addition to NATE, he is also a member of RSES.

“Taking the NATE tests has helped me become a better technician by showing me which areas I need improvement in,” Drye says. “And, not only does the NATE Certification demonstrate to customers that a technician is both knowledgeable in their field and takes the time to troubleshoot and repair problems correctly, the Gas Furnaces test is also accepted by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s office when applying for the service technicians gas license.”

Keith Kane started at Thermal Services, Inc., in Omaha, NE, more than 23 years ago as an apprentice installer. His vast experience has taken him from installation to residential service to lead technician. Next, he moved to commercial service where he works today. Kane currently holds four certifications plus Efficiency Analyst. He is also a member of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES).

Having attended Iowa State University and Iowa Western Community College, as well as having taken several factory and vendor classes, and classes at Thermal Services, he values NATE as an avenue to learn and grow as a technician: “All of the studying and preparation for the NATE exams helped me to clarify what I knew and learn more in areas where I was weak,” he says. “This helped me improve my ability to troubleshoot and repair equipment.”

Bob Millen of Adams Electric in Pratt, KS, has been in the HVAC business since 1975. He spent 12 years working with ammonia at packing plants doing all aspects of refrigeration maintenance, another two years installing commercial refrigeration cases in grocery stores for Nash Finch Company and the rest doing commercial and residential service. Millen holds a Master Plumbing license for the city of Pratt, Kan., a State of Kansas Water Well license and a city of Wichita, Kan. mechanical Journeyman License.

Millen holds six certifications plus Efficiency Analyst. “NATE is important in showing just what you have to offer the customer in knowledge and experience. Customers have a standard in which to compare service technicians,” Millen says. “To be NATE-certified when your competitors are not is one more feather in our caps and one more reason our customers can feel confident when they call us for a service call.”

Thomas Neary is a member of the service department leadership team and the technical supervisor for the field staff at Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning in Rochester, NY. After graduating from SUNY Canton and Oswego with degrees in computer science, Tom decided he wanted to do something mechanical rather than electronic – to work with his hands. So, he began a 13-year career with a small HVAC company. He moved to Isaac 21 years ago. In addition to NATE, Neary is a member of the Council of Air Conditioning Refrigeration Educators.

Neary has earned nine NATE certifications. “NATE certification is important to me because it helps to validate the four-plus years I have dedicated to Isaac University and the on-going training we do here at Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning. Probably the greatest reward of being NATE-certified allows me to distinguish myself as an HVAC professional. With the complexity of the systems that are coming out and the need for a more holistic approach to HVAC systems, I am better prepared.”

For more information about NATE, visit natex.org.