Today, I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Mr. Tom Tebbe, National Programs Director with HVACExcellence.org. Tom has a history and depth of knowledge of the HVAC industry that are truly remarkable. As two southerners from neighboring states, we had a lively discussion by telephone. Below are my notes from the interview.
Question: What is your “elevator statement”, mission, or goals for HVAC excellence?
Tom: My personal view is that we are committed to excellence in education and training. We want to create a more qualified and competent workforce for the HVAC industry. To accomplish this, we take a progressive approach to all levels that affect the outcome: HVAC Program accreditation, Credentialing of instructors, student outcome assessments, and certifying field technicians. In other words, training only the technicians is not nearly enough.
Question: How does your mission benefit home and building owners?
Tom: It helps the owner of a home or building considerably, because the HVAC technician on their site will provide a higher quality installation of new AC and heating equipment or repair service. Work from properly trained and qualified technicians delivers more comfort and lower utility costs, and fewer repair bills for the owner. Today, this is even more important than in the past, because modern AC and heating equipment must be sized correctly, installed to manufacturer’s specifications, and then maintained regularly to achieve optimum comfort, performance, energy efficiency, and life.
Question: I recall that you taught HVAC-Refrigeration at the college level. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Tom: I was involved in teaching and administration at the private and college level. My goal was to provide students a solid foundation in the fundamentals of HVAC theory and electrical knowledge. Other areas we emphasized were communication skills and customer relations. To be effective in the field, technicians not only have to be technically competent in HVAC equipment–they also need to explain their work in a way that is comfortable and effective to the owner.
Question: From your perspective, what is the most useful fact a home or building owner should know about air conditioning and heating?
Tom: There are many things I could say. However one single bit of advice does stand out: Know the reputation of the contractor. They should be selling themselves – their reputation and integrity of the installation, maintenance, and repair services – not just the equipment. Any contractor can sell equipment, but the best ones sell quality of installation.
Question: On the HVACExcellence website, I see some green initiatives. Can you tell us about those?
Tom: We have two initiatives that have been running for several years, and they will be featured at the upcoming conference in March. The first one is the Green Awareness Certification Program for Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing. Like the technical skills that comprise HVAC, this knowledge overlaps to contractors in these industries. The second existing program is the Combustion Analysis program for heating systems. We also have a new Energy Auditing Pilot Program, a Level 2 program, that we created for the U.S. Government. This pilot program will be introduced at the conference and be rolled out later this year.
Question: I read that you have an event coming up in the spring. Can you tell us about that?
Tom: Sure. This is our National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference. It’s being held March 14-16 in Las Vegas. The Green Mechanical Council will be part of the conference too. There will be a keynote speaker and 40 breakout sessions covering a variety of topics, including both existing and emerging technologies and legislative topics. The theme is Green is the New Gold, and some have described it as a “train-the-trainer boot camp”.
Links to topics covered in this interview