• NATE Celebrates 15 Years of HVAC Certification Excellence

    Sept. 4, 2012
    North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012 by offering 15% off of all NATE merchandise for the remainder of the year.

    North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012 by offering 15% off of all NATE merchandise for the remainder of the year.

    Founded in 1997, NATE is the nation’s largest industry-endorsed, non-profit certification organization for HVACR technicians. NATE was created by the HVACR industry and has thrived over the past 15 years as a result of ongoing support from all areas of the industry.

    • Manufacturers and distributors support NATE certification because it encourages proper installation and service of equipment by knowledgeable technicians.

    • Contractors support NATE because certified technicians have the knowledge to do the job right the first time and certification offers a valuable point-of-differentiation to customers.

    • Technicians support NATE because certification allows them to showcase their skills and expertise to employers and customers.

    • Educators and trainers support NATE certification because they benefit from a uniform standard of knowledge that allows them to better prepare the technician workforce of tomorrow.

    • Utilities support NATE certification because properly trained and tested technicians can assure the correct installation and servicing of sophisticated HVACR equipment that saves energy and money when operating at peak efficiency.

    • Consumers support NATE certification because third-party accreditation assures them that a knowledgeable, well-trained and highly experienced technician will install and service their home heating or cooling system.

    Today, nearly 30,000 technicians hold an active NATE certification, with 20% of these technicians holding multiple certifications.

    “Over the past 15 years, NATE has been committed to elevating the industry by certifying technician excellence,” says Don Frendberg, chairman of the NATE board of trustees. “NATE is the only certification organization developed and supported by the entire HVACR industry, and our ongoing efforts will ensure continual quality service and installation.”

    NATE achieved a milestone in its development in December, 2011 — when it was accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

    To purchase discounted NATE merchandise in honor of the 15th anniversary, visit the NATE Store. NATE is offering 15% off all items, including apparel, hats, chevrons, patches, decals, and accessories through December 31, 2012, with promo code “15ANN.” For more information about NATE,visit natex.org.

    50 Great Years for E. Smith —Anyone for 50 More?

    The E. Smith Heating & Air Conditioning Company, Marietta, GA, got its start in 1962, during the early days of residential HVAC. Now, 50 years on, the company leadership team is looking back with pride, and forward with great anticipation of 50 more.

    Company founder Earl Smith entered the HVAC business in the late 1950s, working in sales for two Atlanta distributors, one of which happened to be an early Bryant distributor, before Bryant was acquired by Carrier in 1974.

    In the early 1960s, Smith decided he wanted to control his own destiny. Everything he saw of HVAC, especially in the simmering residential sector, told him HVAC was a good place to start and grow a business.

    With a small amount of capital, he and his wife Rachel opened the doors to the company in March of 1962. They progressed by way of that classic division of labor so often seen in the oldest HVAC companies: Earl sold by day and designed systems by night, while Rachel took calls and handled the billing. One technician helped Earl with the installations.

    Eventually, Earl developed good relationships with home builders in Cobb County, which was just starting to boom with new subdivisions. His timing was perfect. Those spanking new homes would now feature spanking new, and innovative heating and air conditioning units.

    E. Smith later added a light commercial installation business, which grew steadily, endured the recession of the early 1970s, and now flourishes.

    President Barry Abernathy has led the E. Smith company since 1997. He joined the team in 1981, after earning an HVAC degree from Georgia Technical College, and some experience with commercial HVAC manufacturer’s representative. He eventually married Earl and Rachel’s daughter, Debbie, who today handles E. Smith’s marketing and public relations.

    E. Smith’s residential service extends over a 15-mile radius. Its commercial installation business now includes Alabama, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina.

    E. Smith recently surpassed 45 years with the Carrier brand. It has been named a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, received two Carrier President’s Awards, and is one of only 15 companies to be inducted into the Carrier Hall of Fame.

    E. Smith employs 45 people, and operates 26 trucks. Its 12 field technicians are certified through North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

    E. Smith is fiscally conservative, without a speck of debt to hold it down.

    “If we have expansion plans we’ll finance those from our operations, rather than take a loan from the bank. We operate on our own cash flow 99% of time,” Abernathy says.

    E. Smith’s family-philosophy has helped it keep quality employees.

    “Employees have stayed with us for 10 to 30 years, and many have retired while working for us,” Abernathy shares. “We don’t have repeat turnover, ‘bad apples,’ and constant retraining.”

    Some contractors send cookies to thank customers, but E. Smith gives back in other ways, expecting nothing in return but honest opinions.

    “Customers who purchase an HVAC system receive a small gift, and an invitation to evaluate the service online. This helps with our quality control and allows us to show appreciation to our customers,” says Debbie Abernathy.

    “If a customer refers someone to us and they make a purchase, we reward them both through our referral bucks program, sent with a personal ‘Thank You’ note. We also provide discounts to those participating in our Energy Savings Agreement program —from which they receive the peace of mind of a well maintained system at an affordable rate. If a repair is necessary it’s provided at a reduced rate as well. Lastly, we partner often with local non-profits and try to raise awareness and funds for them,” she says.

    E. Smith Heating & Air Conditioning will hold an open house on October 9th, at the Earl Smith Strand Theater in Marietta. The theater was recently renovated, and renamed in honor of Earl Smith’s fundraising efforts to restore it to its 1930s art deco glory. The E. Smith team installed Carrier Weathermaster rooftop units, and installed more than 1,000 feet of ductwork.


    (See page 28 for E.Smith’s “Tools of the Trade” selections.) — Terry McIver

    Jerry Kelly Company Helps Employ Developmentally Challenged Workers

    Jerry Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning, St. Louis, MO, has found a way to obtain office promotional support, while it helps disadvantaged people.

    The company — the 2006 Contracting Business.com Residential HVAC Contractor of the Year —announced a partnership with Valley Industries, Hazelwood, MO. Valley Industries employs and empowers adults with developmental disabilities through specialized project needs, such as collating, packing, assembly, parts cleaning, distribution, and counting. Employees will package promotional items for Jerry Kelly HVAC.

    “We’re proud to work with a company that creates job opportunities for those with developmental disabilities,” says founder Jerry Kelly (see p. 38). Read more at bit.ly/jerrykellyvalley.

    World Energy Congress to Meet

    The World Energy Engineering Congress will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 2, at the Georgia World Congress

    Center in Atlanta, GA. The event — described as the “premier event of the energy engineering industry” — will feature seminars on energy policy, high performance buildings, and energy management best practices for the federal, commercial, institutional and industrial marketplace, and more.


    This month in CB history...

    1995: In “Building Controls, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” Dick Starr, president of Enterprise HVAC and Controls,” provided a concise history of the building controls capabilities, and where it was taking the HVAC industry. “Such interoperability will enable contractors to be more competitive, even in new construction markets,” Starr wrote. “From a change perspective, contractors could find themselves becoming teammates with systems integrators (the Nintendo kids). Likewise, control manufacturers will no longer devote a large portion of their R&D to third party interfaces. More time will be spend on client value instead of protocol protection.”

    There’s an App for that!

    The Carrier Rooftops app is a new mobile app that assists customers with the selection of light commercial rooftop equipment. The app, called the first of its kind in the

    commercial HVAC industry, enables contrators to perform on-the-spot selection of rooftop units for replacement or new construction and estimate the potential energy savings that can be realized with Carrier Weather Series rooftop units. The free app is available for download at carrier.com, the Apple App Store, and Google Play App Store, for the iPad tablet, and iPhone and Android smart phones.

    Nexstar Network to Debut Customer Care Program at 20th Anniversary Super Meeting; Non-members Welcome

    The Nexstar Network will unveil a new, 60-week Customer Care program for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors during its 20th Anniversary Super Meeting, Oct. 11-13, Las Vegas, NV. The program is designed to address every employee touch point in a residential service business, including accountability processes for all departments in a business. The meeting will also include:

    • Money-making sales techniques for all trades

    • Strategies for enhancing on-line reputation

    • Accountability processes for all company positions

    • A strategic partner tradeshow filled with products and services to enhance contractors’ businesses.

    Typically for members only, this event is open to a limited number of non-members who wish to experience Nexstar as a V.I.P. For additional information, call 888/240-STAR, or email to, [email protected].