From the Field

Aug. 1, 2012
Consumer awareness of North American Technician Excellence (NATE) continues to grow, and a recent 'Today' Show segment contributed to the ever-increasing numbers of homeowners who understand the importance of working with NATE-certified technicians.

'Today' Show Exposes Dishonest Contractors, Shows Value of NATE
Consumer awareness of North American Technician Excellence (NATE) continues to grow, and a recent 'Today' Show segment contributed to the ever-increasing numbers of homeowners who understand the importance of working with NATE-certified technicians.

The feature, which aired on July 10, focused on the competency and honesty of air conditioning repairers. Using a hidden camera to monitor the servicing of an air conditioning unit at a New Jersey residence, Jeff Rossen of NBC’s "Rossen Reports" assessed several area companies. Although the AC system was fully functional with the exception of a simple broken wire, all six companies that inspected the unit attempted to charge the homeowner for unnecessary repairs.

According to NATE sources, while the findings of the hidden camera test are disturbing for the HVACR industry, the segment and corresponding article encouraged homeowners to hire one of the country’s countless trustworthy air conditioning companies. One of the key suggestions for finding a trained and competent professional was to use the contractor locator on NATE’s consumer website:

“Although the subject matter of this segment is alarming, this issue is the background for why NATE exists — to verify the competency and conduct of NATE-certified technicians and consequently the air conditioning contractors who employ them,” says Don Frendberg, Chairman of the NATE Board of Trustees.

“As we continue our consumer awareness efforts, which are designed to help elevate the industry, we hope to educate as many homeowners as we can about the importance of working with qualified contractors who employ NATE-certified technicians,” Frendberg says.

To view the Today Show segment and read the corresponding article, visit;

Brewer-Garrett Begins Office Expansion to Meet Growing Business Needs
Training camp has started at the Cleveland Browns facility, just down the road from Brewer-Garrett Company, Middleburg Hts., OH. And, as rabid Browns fans take in the grunts and groans of training camp, they might also hear the ruckus of some new construction as they pass by this leading provider of building energy services.

Brewer-Garrett is about to begin a major renovation of its headquarters facility near Cleveland. The renovation will expand Brewer-Garret’s office facilities by 6,500 sq.ft., to accommodate the continued growth of the 50 year old firm’s engineering capabilities.

Brewer-Garrett’s leadership team is excited about its state-of-the-art facility plans, but even more eager to give back to the region by opening up new positions. Sources report the project will allow for the hiring of new employees, with an expected personnel increase of about 40%.

The team established its existing headquarters in 1991 after many years in downtown Cleveland. Over time, the company has outgrown the existing space.

“Nearly half of the sheet metal shop, as well as the existing office space, will be converted into an open office,” says Kirk Puterbaugh, a Brewer-Garrett electrical engineer. “The open office plan will make more efficient use of space, allowing Brewer-Garrett to house more employees in the same amount of room.”

Brewer-Garrett’s core business is the creation and implementation of energy conservation projects for a vast array of customers, including K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, municipal and county governments, and private commercial and industrial businesses throughout Ohio and surrounding states. With this core business in mind, Brewer-Garrett will focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in the design of their facility.

The renovation will replace and retrofit the current lighting systems throughout the facility. Because lighting consumes over 40% of all electricity used in a commercial office facility, addressing efficiency in these systems will result in significant energy reductions and reduced maintenance needs. Brewer-Garrett will use long-life products to reduce waste, and be more sustainable by using products containing very low amounts of mercury. As part of the retrofit, Brewer-Garrett will also incorporate other initiatives, such as occupancy controls on vending machines, as a simple and innovative way to reduce electrical consumption.

The mechanical and plumbing systems throughout the facility will also be significantly updated, greatly improving the comfort and operation of the facility, while saving up to 15% in energy for heating and cooling.

Brewer-Garrett expanded its energy-related services to customers about 18 years ago.

“We had always been a Design/Build mechanical contractor, working directly with our customers to provide solutions,” says Geoff Engel, vice president, finance. “The next step was to evolve the business, continuing to grow our services, and further develop Design/Build in conjunction with energy related projects.”

Brewer-Garrett has evolved its capabilities over time, to keep in step with customer needs for wide-scale energy solutions.

“We had always been involved in industrial plants, and particularly in computer rooms,” explains Greg McDonald, service general manager. “From a service standpoint, if a customer’s production, revenue, and profitability is related to its mechanical systems, that’s where we do our best work.”

Brewer-Garrett’s successful projects have included work for Cuyahoga Community College and The Timken Company. It recently managed the installation of an 11,000-ton chilled water plant at Cleveland State University.

To ensure that the new space does indeed get filled with warm bodies, McDonald says Brewer-Garrett offers regional training as a way to grow its ranks of younger talent.

“The contractor has to make the training happen,” he says. “We have a great relationship with many training firms that provide technical training, especially the local Polaris Training Institute’s HVAC staff. As part of a school-to-work program, I bring one or two students in each year to begin to learn the business. They work full time in summer, and in the fall, become apprentices while attending school.”

The office expansion is being handled by Brewer-Garrett’s own in-house engineering and energy services department. — Terry McIver

ABC Supports House Vote to Repeal Healthcare 'Takeover'
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Repeal of The Affordable healthcare Act (H.R. 6079) by a vote of 244 to 185.

"We are extremely pleased that a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives reaffirmed its commitment to fight against this wildly unpopular takeover of our nation’s health care system," says Geoff Burr, ABC vice president, government affairs.

"This law increases taxes on employers and employees, and drives up health care costs for everyone by increasing insurance premiums while reducing benefits.," Burr says. "It's time for Congress to consider practical, common-sense solutions, such as allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines, offering small business health plans, expanding access to health savings accounts and making benefits portable in order to reflect the unique nature of the construction industry workforce," Burr said.

"We call on the Senate to find the courage to follow today's action in the House and repeal the entire health care law," Burr says.

While some state governors have declared they will not abide by Obamacare, a full repeal by the U.S. House, Senate and executive branch rests in the outcome of the November elections.

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MCA Chicago Provides Safety Kits to Members, to Help Support Workplace Safety Awareness
Safety is not a blue-sky topic for the Mechanical Contractors Association Chicago. Right "out of the box," MCA Chicago is providing its member companies a combination of tools to reinforce a safe workplace culture.

A box designed in the shape of a small safe holds instructional materials, paycheck stuffers, a record-keeping guide, hard-hat stickers, safety glasses and vest.

"MCA Chicago member companies continue to work with Local Union 597 Chicago Pipe Fitters to strengthen safety on the jobsite. The latest psychological research shows that if workers perceive their union places a strong belief in a safe workplace, the workers are more highly motivated to work safely," says MCA Chicago Executive Vice President Stephen L. Lamb.

"Living our lives and working each day with safe practices at our core allows us to enjoy higher productivity, produce less waste, and ensure our costs are competitive," Lamb says.

MCA Chicago will also pilot a new leadership training program in the fall of 2012 with LU 597.

Designed by Colorado State University under the auspices of CPWR —The Center for Construction Research and Training and funded by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health —the pilot will develop leaders among the LU 597 journeymen and apprentices to promote a safety culture. Initial research by the university shows that overall leadership training is highly effective at creating commitment to the organization and the safety of its members. In its third year of development, the pilot will also be tested in Denver. Once the pilot is complete, it is expected the program will be condensed and offered at a national level as part of United Association apprentice training.

An MCA Chicago member company recently received local and national recognition for its efforts to improve occupational safety and health for its workers. BMWC Group Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., was one of nine MCA Chicago companies who had no recordable accidents for calendar 2011. They received the MCA Chicago Safe Workplace Award in the one million-hour plus category.

BMWC also received the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Safety Award for contractors with more than one million work hours. Designed and implemented with a consultant, a behavioral-based safety system used by Chicagoland field workers reduced jobsite recordable injuries by 60% in its first year of use.

In other news, The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has revised its Model Hazard Communication Program to simplify compliance with OSHA’s updated standard on hazard communication. Under the revised standard, contractors must comply with a new Globally Harmonized System for hazard communication. This system replaces traditional chemical hazard classification and identification practices.

The Model Hazard Communication Program is available for download from MCAA’s bookstore, at

MCAA Gives $1 Million to Education & Research Foundation; Will Aid MCAA Student Chapters
The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has approved a $1 million contribution to the Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation (MCERF). The Foundation is MCAA’s 501(c)3 non-profit institution, which underwrites a growing number of university-level education programs designed to attract high-potential college graduates to the mechanical contracting, service, and related manufacturer-supplier industries.

This September, MCERF will commence a program of generous scholarships and a push for academic excellence among MCAA’s 45+ student chapters across the U.S. and Canada, to ensure both the supply and quality of talented professionals entering the mechanical contracting industry.

Haberberger’s Work is Excellent in Eyes of MCA
Haberberger, Inc., a full-service mechanical contracting firm located in St. Louis, MO, was recently honored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA) with a 2012 Outstanding Mechanical Installation Award. Haberberger was recognized for its process piping work at Pepsi Beverages Company, located in North St. Louis County. The firm has been honored with the mechanical installation award 22 times throughout the past several years for a variety of projects.

Haberberger’s work at the Pepsi Beverages Company included installing stainless steel process piping and utility systems. The project was led by General Foreman Tim Waldorf and Project Manager Todd Kramer. Read more at

In other Haberberger news, the firm recently completed work at four Hazelwood School District elementary schools in St. Louis.

The Haberberger company was recruited to work on projects at Armstrong Elementary, Hazelwood; Brown Elementary, Florissant; and Larimore Elementary and Twillman Elementary, located in Spanish Lake, MO. The projects began in early June, and all were completed ahead of schedule and in time for the 2012-2013 school year.

Haberberger’s team replaced the school buildings’ conventional HVAC systems with new, Daiken variable refrigerant volume (VRV) systems. Sources report these new systems are well-suited for larger buildings, and require significantly less energy than conventional HVAC systems. They use the efficiencies of a heat pump system while offering the flexibility offered by variable air volume (VAV).

Haberberger’s team was led by project manager Tim Schneider, and foremen Ken Bailey, Dave Brightman, Kevin Hartmann, Scott Martin, and Tim Waldorf. Haberberger worked with Vogel Heating and Cooling and Fletcher Mechanical to complete the mechanical work.

The construction manager was Ameresco.

NYSERDA Inks Training Pact with Oil HeatCares, Community Power Network
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has signed a $290,000 contract with Community Power Network of Olmstedville, Essex County and Oil Heat Associates of Long Island, to develop and deliver energy efficiency skills training to oil heat technicians across the state.

The training is designed to fill the gaps between HVAC and oil industry certifications and the Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification, which is a requirement for participation in NYSERDA’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.

"Home Performance with ENERGY STAR has been a way for residents to lower their energy use, reduce costs and increase the comfort of their homes for more than a decade," says Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA.

"This training program will give technicians the skills they need to provide more comprehensive home assessments and a higher level of service for oil heat customers." More than 2 million housing units in New York state are heated with fuel oil or kerosene, according to the latest edition of NYSERDA’s "Patterns and Trends" report. That is almost 30% of all occupied household units statewide.

Among the 39 most populated counties in the state, those with the largest percentage of housing units heated with oil are located in:

  • Long Island Suffolk, 60% of households are heated with oil
  • Nassau, 44%
  • Hudson Valley Putnam, 66%
  • Sullivan, 60%
  • Dutchess, 54 %
  • Ulster, 53%
  • Westchester, 45 %
  • Orange, 36%
  • North Country (Clinton), 42%.

The training includes 24 sessions on whole building science, energy efficiency, combustion efficiency, advanced oil tank installation, and combustion and air venting. Training will begin this summer and continue through the fall, and restart in the spring, at the end of heating season. Upcoming training sessions are scheduled in the following locations:

  • Rochester, at Superior Plus Energy, 1870 South Winton Road, Suite 200, on August 14-15
  • Syracuse at F.W. Webb, 158 Syracuse St., Syracuse, NY, on August 16-17
  • SUNY Canton, September 6-7
  • Albany at Sid Harvey Industries, 8 Jupiter Lane, September 11-12
  • Suffolk Community College, September 14 and October 5.

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"We're very excited about this statewide training initiative for oil heat technicians," says Sue Montgomery Corey, President, Community Power Network of New York State, Inc. "In many New York communities, oil heat is the predominant home heating source. Helping oil heat technicians boost their professional skill will help oil heat customers to achieve greater efficiency with their heating systems, which will help them reduce their carbon footprint and improve the affordability of their home energy," she says.

The training contract, which was awarded via competitive bid, follows a decision by BPI, a national developer of standards and credentials for Home Performance contractors, to recognize certifications by three industry groups North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES).

BPI has established new eligibility criteria for HVAC contractors to achieve BPI Accredited Contractor status. To obtain BPI accreditation, the company must employ at least one person who has both the BPI Building Analyst certification and one of the recognized industry certifications, or have two employees, one with a BPI Building Analyst certification and another with one of the recognized industry certifications. This move by BPI has been welcomed by the industry because it simplifies the requirements for HVAC contractors serving the oil heat industry to become BPI-accredited contractors.

“This program will benefit oil heat customers by improving the technical competence of service technicians throughout the state,” says John Levey, President, Oilheat Associates Inc.

For information, contact Community Power Network of New York State, at 518/251-2525; email: [email protected].

Kurt Knipp is the new chief operating officer at ESD (Environmental Systems Design, Inc.),Chicago, IL, an international leader in consulting-engineering design of high performance building systems.


Wolff Bros. Supply, Inc., an HVAC distributorship in Medina, OH, will host a hands-on, multi-station outdoor workshop and training arena for its HVAC, geothermal and drilling customers on September 11.

The “big tent” event will include hands-on workshops for, introduction to geothermal, directional boring, vertical drilling, horizontal loop and pond loop applications, load-sizing, and geothermal equipment expertise.

More than 200 professional attendees from Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Michigan are expected.

On September 11, registration and breakfast will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., followed by group station breakout sessions. Six key, hands-on work stations for attendees will be provided in 50-minute intervals.

Attendees will also learn about ClimateMaster’s loop design software, GeoDesigner.

This Class is certified by the State of Ohio for 7 Continuing Education credits.

The event costs $150/person. This fee includes breakfast, lunch and dinner with beverages. To RSVP, or for more information, contact Mary Roche at Wolff Bros. Supply at 330/764-3361.


To the Editor:

"Over the 35 years I’ve been in business I’ve used trade magazines for my continuing education. They have been invaluable to me, and we’ve been able to continually take our business to the next level.

"Recently I haven’t been as diligent in reading because a lot of the info (and rightfully so) is for small business challenges that we’ve worked through over the years.

"However, during a recent week at the shore, sitting under my umbrella and enjoying the ocean sounds, I spent some quality time working through my magazines and books.

"The June issue of Contracting rose to the top. From Michael Weil’s editorial to Rob Falke’s reminders, to the observations from the 2012 Executive Roundtable, and other articles, I was challenged, encouraged, and envigorated to keep pressing forward during these challenging times. I inserted several PostIt notes in the pages as reminders, and wrote a couple of pages of notes. I also want to contact Mark Sahd, a local expert that I had never heard of.

“Keep it up. These are challenging times but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the oncoming train that we’ve dealt with over the past few years.”
— Joe Ranck, Robert H. Ranck, Inc. Lancaster, PA

Honeywell’s mobile applications for HVAC contractors and refrigeration system engineers are now available on iTunes for the iPhone platform. An Android version will be announced when available.

With the R-22 Retrofit app, refrigeration engineers can compare refrigerant properties such as capacity, efficiency, and global warming potential. The pressure/temperature (P/T) app enables technicians to select a refrigerant and get the data they need to perform the task.

2001: In "Keeping It Cold With Style," Gary Hall provided a look at the changes in food refrigeration systems. He mentioned that with the advent of computers came more user-friendly refrigeration products. Expansion valves evolved from hand-operated to thermostatically-controlled, to computer controlled electronic TXVs. Defrost termination switches, fan delays, electronic timers, and thermostats, were more easily monitored and operated through a simple computer interface. Hall wrote that refrigerated case manufacturers were being challenged with preserving contents, but making them attractive and accessible to consumers. Today, the “open cases v. closed cases” debate continues: it’s energy savings weighed against easy access to products.

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.