Gary Hodges (left) is presented with an award from NATE President Rex Boynton. Hodges came in first during the North American Technician Excellence Certified Technician Competition.

Gary Hodges, service manager at Carthage Heating and Cooling in Carthage, Miss., took first-place honors as the nation’s top home comfort technician during the ninth annual Certified Technician Competition.

The competition was conducted by North American Technician Excellence Sept. 10-13 in Atlanta. He was one of seven finalists whose skills and knowledge in the home-comfort field already placed him in the top 1 percent of technicians in the country as measured by NATE testing and certification.

 “It’s a real honor to win this award because it reassures me that I can apply my knowledge to everyday heating and cooling problems. I definitely credit the NATE series of tests for helping to prepare me for this competition,” Hodges said after winning the competition.

Hodges won the competition by achieving the best combined score from a series of timed, hands-on events that simulated various heating and cooling challenges.

Started in 2000, the Certified Technician Competition serves as a means of recognizing the knowledge and skills necessary to service heating and cooling systems.

 “NATE  certification benefits not only professional technicians and contractors, but also consumers,” said NATE President Rex Boynton. “Certification provides assurance that a technician excels in the knowledge and skills necessary to be among the best in the heating and cooling industry.” 

Hodges, who has earned numerous NATE certifications, says that certification also adds credibility to the industry.

“The exam proves that a technician fully understands HVACR,” he said. “NATE certification improves confidence among contractors and customers and benefits the HVACR industry. It’s a great asset for the entire industry.”