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However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there is a growing shortage of qualified hvac technicians. “It is essential we reverse this trend. If it is important to consumers, it should be important to the industry,” said Rex Boynton, president of NATE.
The partners’ goals are twofold: to increase the number of certified hvac service technicians, and to increase public awareness of the value of NATE testing and certification. These will be parlayed into a more positive public image of the hvac service industry.
“Everyone has a role to play in improving the industry’s image,” said Scott J. Boxer, president of Lennox Industries. “Although the vast majority of hvac companies are honest and working hard to serve their customers, good training and good education will make a big impact in our industry.”
According to Boynton, “There are many advantages to NATE certification. Certified technicians do the job right the first time, and they stay in the industry longer than noncertified ones. Consumers want knowledgeable technicians they can trust to install and service their home comfort systems, and they have that with a NATE-certified technician.”
“We must never forget the technician is the face of this industry to the consumers,” said Boxer. “Everyone benefits when the technician does a good job.
“Unfortunately, due to unfavorable reports in the media, there is a lack of trust and respect of technicians among some consumers,” he said. “I’m confident we can work with NATE to help turn these unfortunate perceptions around.”
NATE and Lennox said they will promote testing at a variety of hvac events throughout the year. To become NATE-certified, a technician must pass both a core exam and a specialty exam. The core test covers fundamentals of math, customer relations, electricity, heat transfer, and comfort. Specialty exams include air distribution, air conditioning, heat pumps, gas heating, and oil heating. Testing information and dates will be available on the entities’ websites (www.natex.org and www.lennox.com). NATE-approved testing organizations also are located throughout the United States and Canada.
One of the reasons for the low number of certified technicians is the fact that many dealers are unwilling to train technicians because they are concerned those technicians might leave after training. However, “Untrained labor can be a recipe for disaster,” Boxer said.
DEALER WEBSITE INCENTIVESBoxer said he has challenged Lennox dealers to promote their NATE status. In 2002, Lennox will identify a dealership as being NATE-proactive if one or more technicians have been certified.
“Certification implies a good reputation, and when the certification is from an independent third party, that is even more powerful,” Boxer said.
Dealers with more than 25% of their technicians NATE certified will be listed on the Lennox Dealer Locator listing on the company’s website, along with a NATE certification logo. Dealers with more than 50% of their technicians NATE certified in 2003 will have two logos with their listing.
If they have more than 75% of their technicians NATE certified in 2003, they will be identified with three logos. Dealers who employ certified technicians also will be listed on NATE’s Consumer Contractor Connection on its website.
“NATE certification can be a powerful marketing tool, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do for our customers and our industry,” Boxer said.
Publication date: 03/04/2002