Harold Nelson leads a training class
Harold Nelson, runner-up in The NEWS’ inaugural Best Trainer contest, has more than 27 years experience as a trainer with Mingledorff’s Inc.
Harold Nelson is one of those HVACR guys who knows everyone. Serving 27 years as technical support manager with Mingledorff’s Inc., and an additional 13 years of industry involvement prior to that, Nelson has seen and heard just about everything the industry has to offer.

His four decades of experience and knowledge make him one of the most well-respected trainers nationwide, and the runner-up in The NEWS’ inaugural Best Trainer contest.

Breaking into the Business

While attending high school, Nelson came across a joint-enrollment program at a nearby technical school. “From the very first day, I knew that HVAC was right for me. It was a perfect fit,” he said.

In 1972, he earned his associate’s degree from DeKalb Vocational Technical School and entered the field as a service technician for a local Trane contractor in Stone Mountain, Ga.

“During this time I had to find a mentor that would help me build my knowledge in the HVAC industry. I found that person in Charles Curry,” said Nelson. “I also found that my education in the HVAC field had to continue outside the formal education from DeKalb, so I continued to attend as many classes as I could to gain additional knowledge.”

In 1985, he was hired by Mingledorff’s Inc. as a technical service manager.

Knowledge is Power

Nelson said he is dedicated to teaching individuals the proper information and processes.

“I try to keep a quick pace, and remind those in attendance that we’re all here to learn,” he said. “My training sessions always include hands-on activities and lab time, so that people aren’t fixed to a chair for six hours at a time.”

The more training sessions he holds, the more knowledge he is able to share.

“My agenda is always full. My team will host more than 200 training sessions this year,” he said. “We used to train exclusively in the spring and fall, but we found that there are ways for us to share information 52 weeks a year. With online content, our information is available 24/7.”

When he isn’t teaching, Nelson can be found researching his next lesson, which he calls one of his favorite aspects of being an HVACR trainer.

“In this industry, everything is constantly changing and you have to do your research. It’s important that you learn the ins and outs of the subject matter before you attempt to teach it,” he said.

Nelson continues to gain knowledge about the industry from the many affiliations and associations he aligns himself with, which include NATE, AHRI, Georgia School Plant Maintenance Association (GSPMA), RSES, the Alabama Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Educators (ACARE), and the Council of Air Conditioning Refrigeration Educators (CARE).

As more and more baby boomers inch closer to retirement, Nelson acknowledges that a gap in skilled tradesmen exists, but said it is his responsibility — along with other trainers nationwide — to educate the next wave.

“It’s getting harder and harder to recruit talented individuals. For years, HVAC has been portrayed as a not-so-glamorous industry; our image lacked glory,” he said.

“But, with smart controls, software upgrades, and the advent of technology, our industry is changing. We’re hoping to welcome some brilliant minds, which will help keep the industry competitive and competent.”

Highly Regarded

Five years ago, Whit Perry, instructor at Northwest Mississippi Community College, Senatobia, Miss., met Nelson at an HVACR instructor workshop. He has since become a valuable resource and a great friend.

“Many distributors are very stingy with their material, but Harold is always willing to share the information we need to be better informed on Carrier’s equipment,” said Perry. “He’s there every time we need him, has a positive attitude, and I don’t think I would be the educator that I am without his knowledge and support.”

David Kesterton, president, Mingledorff’s Inc., said Nelson’s commitment is unmatched in the HVACR industry.

“Harold is an excellent trainer and is very dedicated to this profession,” said Kesterton. “He is very enthusiastic and holds a lasting relationship with all his students.

“He often operates on about four hours of sleep, and it’s not unusual to find him driving down the road at 4 a.m. to arrive in time for the start of his next class,” he said. “Whatever he does, he’s all in, all the time.”

Kevin Livingston, air conditioning technology instructor, Oconee Fall Line Technical School, Dublin, Ga., said Nelson has been crucial to his students’ success.

“Harold visits twice a year as a member of our advisory committee, which he’s been a member of for more than 20 years. He also provides countless hours of information for our air conditioning program,” said Livingston. “Harold speaks with an understanding that all students can understand, which always gains great feedback from our attendees. He always responds to our questions or follows up to any action needed and has been a great resource for our staff and students.”

Publication date: 11/12/2012