The HVAC field offers hands-on work, job security, the ability to start your own business and so much more. For students preparing to enter the field, there is certainly plenty to look forward to.

In their bios, the Mission: HVAC students told us a little bit about why they chose this field. So, for their first mission, we asked Derick, Jacob and Michael to learn about why others chose the field. They could choose a professor at their school, an HVAC technician or anyone else in their professional network.

Read on to see what they learned during their first interviews, along with some thoughts about what’s in store for their futures.

Derick: With Pride and Effort, the Rest Will Come

Derick---Peterman-Logo2Kenny Collier is a very knowledgeable person.

He has been in the HVAC profession for 21 years and got into the trade by a friend’s recommendation. Though he is currently employed by Peterman Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for the last 3 years and counting, and is their lead installer, his career path that led up to this job opportunity was quite rocky – not once, but twice, the companies he worked for were bought out, resulting in his unemployment.

I’ve had the pleasure of being Kenny’s apprentice for the past year, and patiently watch how he does his work. Kenny pays close attention to every detail when it comes to doing installs. He always takes the time to listen to my questions, shows me exactly what I need to do, and then allows me to try on my own.

He tells me to take pride in my work. Pride is something I grew very familiar with while serving in the military. Day in and day out, I see why pride is important when doing installs at a customer’s house.

He also told me that this trade demands you put in the effort and try your best – and the rest will come. Kenny is always very encouraging and makes me feel confident that I have a very bright future in the HVAC profession – especially since I know he’s given me the training I need to excel.

Jacob: Past, Present and Future

Mission HVAC 2016 - Mission OneFor my interview, I chose to speak with my instructor at Catawba Valley Community College – Jody Lail. He has been in the HVAC industry for more years than he knows simply because it is a family business. It goes all the way back to the “Hey, hold this” days of when he was helping out his father on jobs. Although he can’t provide an exact number, it’s safe to say it’s over 25 years in the field.

Jody’s father started out working on furnaces before you had to be licensed, and learned about air conditioning when it was still a new thing. Over the years, he’s seen some changes in the industry, particularly around refrigerants and all of the safety aspects (personal and environmental) that go with them. Plus some changes to the systems themselves – the biggest being the switch from contactors and relay to solid state circuit boards. He even suggested electricity is a priority topic to learn since it’s the cause of so many issues within the functionality of a system (I took his advice and completed a few extra electrical classes).

So, what does the future look like?

Jody sees the ductless mini-split systems becoming more popular, but he also stresses the need to stay current on traditional heat pumps. As efficiency continues to improve, HVAC pros will need to keep up with any changes.

He also expressed some concern about the quality of installations, particularly the overuse of flex duct. Making sure you do correct calculations and use quality ductwork and materials are what will make or break a business.

In general, he sees the demand for HVAC technicians continuing to increase as fewer people are getting into the trades and the Baby Boomer generation retires out.

Michael: Taking the Risk Does Pay Off

For my first mission, I interviewed Kenny Brown. He been an HVAC technician for two years and is part of a growing new HVAC business.

Kenny worked in the fast food industry for 10 years before deciding to take a new career path. He has always been handy, working with plumbing, construction and roofing on the side to sharpen his skills. Two years ago, he decided to take a risk, start HVAC School at Athens Technical College and begin working in the HVAC field. He wanted to have the ability to spend more time with his family and grow a business where he can have equity.

He truly believes there is a great opportunity to grow a business where there is such a great demand. And, being in the restaurant business, he is able to talk to the managers and relate to their needs on a daily basis.

Kenny enjoys working in the HVAC field as it broadens his opportunity to be successful. Being a father of four children, this field offers numerous ways to grow his future. Not only does he work on air conditioning, but he also offers preventative maintenance programs for restaurants and residential customers. He believes in offering a full range of services in order to keep his customers satisfied, relating to different aspects of their business.

Kenny continually stressed the need for balance between work and family time. The HVAC field, even with numerous hours worked some weeks, can be flexible when time off is needed to be with family. The chance to grow a company and work with customers, along with establishing a successful company for his family’s well-being are the biggest reasons he decided to work in the HVAC field.