Instagram, TikTok, and podcasts took center stage at the HVAC Tactical Awards celebration Sunday night in Atlanta as Ben Poole, founder of HVAC Tactical, took to the stage to announce the year’s top industry influencers.

“This entire night revolves around just celebrating each other,” Poole said. “There’s a wealth of knowledge in this room. There is nothing that we cannot do with the amount of people and the amount of brain power in this room. Blue collar people have not been celebrated enough. In fact, we’ve been downright looked down upon for the last 20 to 30 years. And I’m sick of that bullshit. So we’re going to fix that. We fixed it in Vegas, we’re gonna fix it again tonight, and we’re gonna keep on fixing it for years to come.”

The event’s theme was “Blue Collars Goes Black Tie,” and one of the speakers called it the Grammy of the HVAC industry ― reminiscent of back when the Grammys were first getting started. 

After red carpet photos and a glamorous cocktail hour at the Southern Exchange Ballroom in downtown Atlanta, several hundred attendees in suits and tuxes and sweeping, sparkling gowns took their seats to enjoy a steak dinner and the highlight of the evening: the awards ceremony. As a punchy highlights reel played on the big screen at the front of the ballroom, showing clips from the nominees’ social media pages, last year’s winners introduced this year’s three finalists for each award.

The winners were:

  • Lady of the Trade Award: Brandi Ferenc, @chlrchk
  • Hidden Gem Award, for outstanding content: Jeffrey McFadden, @jeffry__pipes
  • Picture Perfect Install Award: Ben Thomson, @hvacstrong
  • Lifeline Tech Award, for the technician who is always there to pick up the phone and help solve HVAC problems that seem to stump everybody: Matt Waxer, @the_hvac_doctor
  • Mentor of the Year Award, for the HVAC professional with the best videos of helpful tips and tricks: Trevor Matthews, @refrigerationmentor
  • Most Organized Truck Award: Michael Adamczyk
  • Best Social Content Award: Pat Finley, @commercial_kitchen_chronicles
  • Best HVAC Podcast: Gil Cavey, @hvacuncensored
  • Behind the Scenes Award: John Palmer, @thehvacjerks
  • Influencer of the Year Award, for building trust and community through leadership that raises the bar for the entire industry: Craig Migliaccio, @acservicetech
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Joseph Groh of The Joseph S. Groh Foundation, which helps tradespeople and their families who have been impacted by traumatic injuries, as Groh himself was at a relatively young age.

Fitting for a celebration of social media in HVAC, the event was livestreamed on HVAC Tactical’s website.