At HVAC Comfortech 2009, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) recognized five “Top Techs” from across the country. To be honored as a Top Tech, technicians must be working in the field, and must hold NATE's senior certification — known as Efficiency Analyst — and at least four other certifications.

For the next five months, ContractingBusiness.com will present a profile of each of these “Top Techs,” who represent NATE certification at its best.

Thomas Bush is senior service technician for HCE Systems Inc., Norton, VA.

Bush attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, and studied mechanical engineering for three years. He then started a 28-year engineering career. “I was mainly involved with the design and specification of HVAC and mechanical systems for commercial buildings,” Bush says. “Later, I moved into HVAC and mechanical systems for industrial projects, such as automobile, industrial, chemical, and waste-to-energy plants. Eventually, I began to supervise the design of these systems and moved more into construction supervision and trouble shooting. I was involved with projects all over the U.S. and overseas.”

Bush became interested in residential and light commecial work, and took a job with a local HVAC contractor. He attended Mountain Empire Community College, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the HVACR program. He passed the Virginia exams and became a licensed master HVAC technician and master electrician. He holds NATE certifications in the installation and service of air conditioners, heat pumps, oil furnaces, gas furnaces, air distribution systems, and an Efficiency Analyst designation.

Bush says the elements that go into making a “great” technician depend largely upon whom you ask. A homeowner, for example, may have a different list of priorities than a contractor. However, in his opinion, there are two characteristics that would be on everyone's list: knowledge and experience.

“This is where certification comes into play,” Bush says. “NATE certification distinguishes the professional HVACR technician from others in the industry. It makes it easy for homeowners and others requiring HVACR service or installation to ensure that they're getting qualified technicians.” natex.org