Rex Boynton
GALLOWAY, N.J. - North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is forging strong ties with the wholesaler sector of the HVACR industry, and that is proving to be of mutual benefit to both the tester of technicians and a sector that has daily contact with the techs - the distributors.

That became apparent during a NATE presentation at the recent Combined Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting and Spring Business Meeting of Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).

In introducing the NATE presenters, HARDI Northeastern Regional Director Richard Nelson told his fellow wholesalers, "NATE is the way to go. Problems at the counter are often due to poor technicians in the field." That can be dealt with, in part, with more training and a means to measure that training as with the NATE exams, he said.

"Wholesalers are leaders," stated NATE President Rex Boynton, who noted that wholesalers are the "top sales producers" of exams among testing organizations used by NATE.

He told the audience that wholesalers account for 31 percent of test sales, and, as of the time of the conference in mid-May, some 56 wholesalers were set up to offer NATE tests. During the first quarter of 2004, there were 82 test sessions conducted through supply houses, he said.

He pointed to the ability of supply houses to offer the training needed to prepare a technician to take NATE tests. "This is something you can do for customers," Boynton said.

Boynton noted that HARDI member Randy Tice of APR Supply Co., Lebanon, Pa., is currently serving as NATE chairman. Tice has become NATE certified, Boynton said.

Boynton asked wholesalers to urge their own personnel to gain NATE certification, "especially those who have contact with customers." He encouraged personnel to promote NATE to customers.

He said more supply house owners and managers should consider having their locations become NATE testing sites. He urged that training offered at such locales be done in such a way as to be recognized by NATE, since continuing education credits can be used for NATE recertification of individuals who had originally passed one or more of the NATE exams.

Patrick Murphy, vice president of certification for NATE, updated the audience on what he called "electronic protocols" to better monitor the wide range of NATE activities.

The latest technology allows wholesalers, for example, to check the status of testing, order exams, view those orders, and schedule test sessions.

Results of exams can be viewed in a statistical way to see strengths and weaknesses and determine where reinforcement is needed.

There is also an option, Murphy said, for online testing, in which a proctor can create a test session, for example, for a technician who is at the deadline for recertification. Also, test takers can, in confidence, view their own results to help them assess individual strengths and weaknesses.

Publication date: 07/05/2004