Don Frendberg
Don Frendberg, NATE chairman

In an effort to take North American Technician Excellence (NATE) to a higher level, Don Frendberg, NATE chairman, announced a restructuring of NATE personnel and an Administrative Services Agreement with the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

Under the new structure, Frendberg will now be directly involved in the promotion and leadership of NATE, and Peter Schwartz, NATE president, will focus on strengthening NATE’s relations with governmental and nongovernmental organizations. To temporarily fulfill the duties of Pat Murphy, who announced his resignation as vice president of certification, Warren Lupson, AHRI’s director of education, will serve as director of certification and will handle the technical and certification administration needs of NATE.

In addition, AHRI will be providing administrative services to NATE to enhance its operational efficiency. “This agreement does not constitute AHRI taking over the management of NATE. It is a proximity thing more than anything else. I am very thankful that they are willing to do that,” Frendberg said.

NATE was founded and funded by the HVACR manufacturers in 1997 to improve installation and maintenance of equipment so as to reduce warranty claims and increase customer satisfaction. It was aided by AHRI (then ARI and GAMA) until it became self sufficient, at which time the associations stopped providing the administrative services.

Stephen Yurek
Stephen Yurek, AHRI president, CEO

“Maybe that was too soon,” said AHRI president and CEO Stephen Yurek. “We should have continued through this growth phase and transition to provide the basic administrative operational support services so that NATE could continue to focus on testing and marketing and sales and really getting the value out to installers and contractors and technicians in the industry,” he added.

“These changes were initiated by the NATE executive committee,” Frendberg said. “We are doing very well. We had a successful year last year — it was very profitable. But there was a need going forward to focus some people to their strengths. Peter is very strong in developing alliances and working with other organizations and we wanted to capitalize on that.”

NATE currently has 32,000 certified technicians and the group looks to continue to grow that number.

“I think NATE is going to be much more aggressive in the marketplace and really be out there to promote the value of NATE and raising public awareness of what NATE is and what it means to the industry,” Yurek said. “Part of it is seeing where we are going as an industry. When you are looking at the whole house and whole building, there are some things that need to be done with the NATE certification to take that into account and expand in to reflect a broader awareness of energy efficiency and environmental impact.”

AHRI sees a lot of opportunity for NATE to work with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. NATE has had recent success including achieving 17-024 ANSI accreditation late last year.

“That is a huge accomplishment. NATE is strong, but together we are trying to make it stronger. This shows the continued commitment of manufacturers to NATE and the fact they are looking to ensure NATE is as strong as it can be,” Yurek said.

Publication date: 01/30/2012