In 2015, we launched the Mission: HVAC program as a way to shed some light on the skilled trades gap, as well as highlight the hard work associated with pursuing an HVAC degree. We followed three students from Athens Technical College in Athens, Georgia, who delivered a fresh perspective and positive approach to a variety of HVAC-themed missions.
We are happy to say the Mission: HVAC program is back for a second year – with three new students from different parts of the country. Like their predecessors, these students will put their classroom learnings and real-life experiences to the test. Over the next few months, we’ll give them a series of themed challenges that will require them to conduct research, interview HVAC pros and meet with industry experts, and then compile that knowledge into posts for this website.
In reward for their dedication to the Mission: HVAC program – and for completing all 10 challenges – each student will receive $5,000 to put toward the cost of their education.
So…let’s meet ’em:
Derick Chandler: Ivy Tech Community College
Derick Chandler attributes his success in life to his beautiful wife Kara and two-year-old daughter Kaydence. A resident of Columbus, Indiana, Derick is a student at Ivy Tech Community College, where he’s pursuing a career path in the HVAC trade.
Derick’s career started in August 2006 when he joined the United States Navy upon graduation from high school. After boot camp, he was assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in San Diego, California, as a Boatswain Mate. Upon serving on The Reagan, he did three WestPacs and two Surge Cruises. After 3 years, he made a job change to Aviation Ordnance and worked for the G-1 flight deck, where he was responsible for keeping track of and building bombs that were issued to the air wing. After 5 years on board The Reagan, his rotation for shore duty sent him to Sicily, Italy, to be stationed at Sigonella for 3 years. Here, his duties included keeping track of the ammo needed by ships on deployments.
After a successful military career, Derick decided to come home full-time to be with his wife and daughter, and was honorably discharged in 2014. This leap also started another chapter in his life: the pursuit of an HVAC degree.
Derick chose Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus, Indiana, where he’s working toward an Associate’s Degree in Industrial Maintenance. He chose this field because he loves working with his hands and helping people. He figures, what better way to help the community than make sure they have heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer. He decided to start in fall 2014, giving himself enough time to adjust to civilian life and spend some much-needed time with his family.
Today, Derick is a full-time student, as well as full-time employee – serving as an HVAC apprentice – at Peterman Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. His dedication and diligence is what earned him his position – he spent several months calling different HVAC companies just trying to get his foot in the door before finally coming across Peterman, which welcomed him in with open arms.
In May 2015, Derick also chose to enter the military once again, this time as a reservist in the U.S. Air Force because he missed the comradery.
When he’s not in school or at work, this laid-back family man enjoys spending time with his wife, playing with his daughter, and watching the Colts and the Pacers. Derick aspires to graduate from Ivy Tech and continue his education as far as he can take it – perhaps something that could lead him to become an officer in the Air Force or continuing to move up in the ranks at Peterman.
Bottom line – he wants to succeed in life and in the HVAC field.
Jacob Hall: Catawba Valley Community College
Jacob Hall has always worked in or around the construction industry in one form or another, either doing projects for himself or as a regular day job. His previous employment has included masonry, general carpentry, timber framing, log building, drafting and the heavy equipment industry. While he enjoyed and learned from each of these experiences, none offered the ability to become a recognized, licensed tradesman.
Along these same lines, Jacob believes the HVAC industry provides job security that others don’t. Jobs in either service or installation require a relatively local technician and as such can’t be outsourced. Options in residential, commercial and refrigeration (including small appliances) can even be further divided into service and/or installation, providing several different avenues for employment.
So, he’s pursuing a future in the trades by attending Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, North Carolina, where he’s taking HVAC and electrical classes to round out his Associate’s Degree in Architectural Technology.
Michael Dermer: Athens Technical College
Michael Dermer chose a career path in the HVAC field not only because he’s handy, but also because of the potential for continued business growth – it’s unlimited, he says.
Michael began his career in the fast food industry, where he spent 28 years of his working life. Among his roles within the industry were as a supervisor, business consultant and training consultant. He also started his own company, TrustBusinessGroup, two years ago, which is designed to assist companies with service providers they can trust.
Now he’s a student at Athens Technical College in Athens, Georgia, where he’s looking to enter into the HVAC field. It’s a career path that promises the ability to grow his own company, as well as the flexibility to spend time with his children. Once he graduates, he wants to continue to grow his company and assist new students in attending school.