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 Bob Millen, lead service technician, Adams Electric, Pratt, KS.

Bob Millen of Adams Electric in Pratt, KS, has been in the HVAC business since 1975. He has experience working with ammonia systems, commercial cases, refrigeration maintenance, and residential service. Millen holds six NATE certifications, plus Efficiency Analyst.

To Millen, certification isn't what makes a technician great — for that, he'll take common sense, the desire to continuously learn, and what he calls the "gumption" to be willing to tackle and figure out tough problems in the field.

"You can have a technician who gets straight 'As' in vo-tech school, but that doesn't mean he's going to be the best guy out in the field," Millen says. "What's important is common sense, the ability to apply what you've learned, and maybe just a little stubbornness to not let a vexing problem get the better of you."

Millen says he views certification as an important means of demonstrating to both customers and employers a technician's willingness to go the extra mile.

"You don't have to be certified to work in Kansas, so NATE certification is a way to show that you have the knowledge, and that you've gone a step above the average technician. It makes you stand out from the crowd. It's one more thing that I can show that I did that the guy down the street didn't do," Millen says.

"NATE's important in showing just what you have to offer the customer in knowledge and experience," he adds.

"Customers have a standard in which to compare service technicians. 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."