ACHRNEWS

CEO: NATE Is at a Crossroads

December 6, 2010
NATE President Peter Schwartz delivers the keynote address at the RSES conference.

TUCSON, Ariz. - “I believe that NATE is at a crossroads in its evolution within our industry,” the new president and CEO of North American Technician Excellence told an audience of several hundred technicians and manufacturer representatives.

Peter Schwartz’s keynote address at the 73rd Annual Conference of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) in November was one of his first major statements on NATE’s future since his taking office a few weeks earlier.

“NATE has done an exemplary job in establishing and solidifying its base - with systems in place to manage the testing, certification, and re-certification of professional technicians; the buy-in of the industry at all levels; some identifiable consumer acceptance; and a critical mass of designees upon which to build,” he said.

In looking to the future, he said, “With the emergence of sustainability and energy conservation as front burner consumer and regulatory priorities, NATE is in a unique position to effect positive change that will benefit both the industry and end users exponentially.

“NATE, in my estimation, is poised to assume an expanded role in the emerging efficiency and sustainability equations.”

THE RSES TIES

His address at a major RSES event had significance because RSES has been a training arm for individuals preparing to take NATE exams. In an announcement also at the conference, RSES Educational and Examining Board Chairman Roger Hensley said the latest updates by RSES of NATE preparation manuals included core essentials, heat pump and air conditioning, and air distribution. He also said prep materials for gas and oil heating became available at the time of the conference, with hydronics and commercial refrigeration to be released in early to mid-2011.

In addition, RSES members used a town hall meeting to discuss ways to promote NATE exams in the context of ongoing learning. Ideas related to encouraging those entering the industry to take the Industry Competency Exam (ICE), followed by a number of NATE exams, and then moving onto the Certificate Member (CM) and Certificate Member Specialist (CMS) exams available to RSES members.

Schwartz also noted the tie with RSES. “I believe we should advance our collective efforts for a united HVACR industry to do all we can to promote both NATE and RSES certifications and our respective designees from a value added standpoint.”

NEW WAYS

In his address, Schwartz said, “I have always felt that a professional organization has a covenant with the industry that it serves to rigorously seek out new ways to provide the information and assistance needed for participants to make the right decisions in business.

“To me, the role of CEO is one of dissecting the status quo, indentifying and validating movements and transformations within the marketplace, and responding to those changes in a relevant and effective manner.”

He said a theme for NATE going forward is “make NATE easier to do business with.” He noted, “NATE should investigate mechanisms to further standardize and simplify the process of sitting for our examinations. This strategy should encompass researching the benefits of accelerating our online testing capabilities and increasing the use of the web to help candidates managing the process of preparing for and achieving their certification/recertification via dashboards and process checklists to name two examples.”

The new president and CEO promoted “accelerated marketing and branding” as a way “to drive a substantial increase in the number of NATE-certified technicians and elevate the significance of NATE certification on a national basis.”

Among developments the industry will see during 2011, he said, are “new collateral pieces, electronic marketing, expanded participation in regional trade and industry events and direct to manufacturer, distributor, contractor, and customer marketing.”

He noted the hiring of a third party to do a “complete makeover of the NATE website which to date has been more information rather than benefits driven; and redirect our efforts at search engine optimization.”

He noted, “Our target audience is a soccer mom in Downers Grove, Ill., who specifies a NATE-certified technician when she calls her local HVAC contractor for service. When we begin the hear stories such as those, we will have begun to accomplish our mission.”

Publication date: 12/06/2010