At HVAC Comfortech 2009, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) recognized five "Top Techs" from across the country. This month, Contracting Business is pleased to introduce you to Keith Kane, commercial service technician, Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, NE.

Honesty, integrity, and hard work sound like old-school buzzwords of how to achieve success. Thankfully, those concepts still work today, and those were the words Keith Kane chose when asked what has led to his success in the HVAC industry.

Kane started at Thermal Services, Inc., Omaha, NE, more than 23 years ago. No stranger to hard work, Kane started out as a farmer. He studied engineering at Iowa State University, then earned an agriculture degree from Iowa Western. When farming struggled in the 1980s, he found himself as an apprentice installer at Thermal Services. Kane move from installer to residential service to commercial service, where he has spent the past 22 years.

"Many companies don't push their technicians to become better," he says. "But Thermal Services is always pushing for excellence. Integrity is very important to the company, and the feeling here is that the NATE certifications are a good way to demonstrate that we are a company of integrity." Today, Kane holds four certifications — Air Conditioning, Air Distribution, Air-to-Air Heat Pump, and Gas Furnace — in addition to Efficiency Analyst.

"NATE is 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 said. "It helps technicians pinpoint areas where they need further training. It gives them direction so they can improve themselves."

In addition to honesty and integrity, Kane says a good technician needs to have the desire to be constantly learning. "I see systems becoming more and more complex. Constant study and training is going to be more important in the future than it is now," he says. natex.org