North American Technician Excellence (NATE) received some new blood at the top this year in the form of new COO John Lanier. Though he’s only been on the job for about six months, Lanier has set a vision for NATE that earned him NEWSmaker recognition.

His peers are not shy in acknowledging that Lanier has been a quick study since coming on board.

“John’s business experience allowed him to very quickly understand the operations of NATE and the influence it has on the HVACR industry,” said immediate past NATE board chairman and HVACR Workforce Development Foundation executive director Donald Frendberg. “His assessment of the organization and his many industry relationships has led to an excellent redirection of several strategic objectives. In my opinion, John is the right person at the right time for NATE and I foresee only continued success for the organization.”

In the short term, Lanier has challenged NATE to increase the number of technicians recertifying with the organization by delivering a better value proposition to technicians and contractors. The organization has a long-term goal of a NATE patch being proudly worn on every technician’s shirt.

“We will work to continue the growth in the number of NATE-certified technicians to provide quality service, installation, enhanced system performance, and energy efficiency for customers,” Lanier said.

Lanier came to NATE with a lot of executive experience, most recently serving as senior vice president of operations for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which has more than 400,000 members.

Lanier has spent the last six months getting acquainted with NATE and the HVAC industry. He said he’s been pleased with the dedication the group’s confidants have exhibited in support of NATE.

“Our partners are very passionate about the importance of training better qualified technicians,” Lanier said. “Over 16 years ago, industry leaders in manufacturing, distribution, and contracting came together to discuss concerns with the overall quality of field service and installation of HVACR equipment. From that meeting, NATE was created, and those partners are still passionate about our mission. They’re committed to our success.”

There are many issues facing the COO, including increasing the number of NATE-certified technicians and the looming shortage of qualified HVAC technicians. Lanier has jumped into both issues aggressively.

“The top two items, I’ve learned, are connected,” Lanier said. “One, that NATE offers an enormous opportunity to help the industry. And two, the NATE certification can have a grand impact on a technician’s career. As many of us know, the number of HVACR technician jobs is forecast to grow at a rate three-times the national average. Meanwhile, employers are concerned that candidates lack the training and certification needed for these jobs. From our industry competency exam to our senior HVAC efficiency analyst, NATE certifications offer technicians the chance to demonstrate their knowledge and competence and provides the industry with a standard of performance excellence.”

Other goals, Lanier said, include making NATE testing and certification more accessible as well as increasing consumer awareness.

“We must continue to work to advance NATE’s position to the HVACR industry and consumers by ensuring the certification program is relevant and accessible, increasing industry and consumer awareness of the benefits of NATE-certified technicians, and advocating for NATE with relevant government agencies,” Lanier said.

That is not to say that Lanier has it all figured out. He is still striving to improve NATE and the industry.

“We’re planning updates to our certification program that better support technicians in maintaining these important and hard-earned certifications that embody the future of our workforce and industry,” Lanier said. “And overall, we are working to simplify our processes to make it easier for all of our stakeholders to interact with us as partners in this endeavor.”

Publication date: 12/23/2013

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