Always Maintaining his Cool

Keith Simpson and Cam Stone

Careers in trades are rapidly becoming some of the best opportunities for the future. As baby boomers reach retirement age in those occupations, companies need to find replacements of highly-skilled, talented employees.

Based on research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for other occupations. Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth, therefore creating good job opportunities for HVACR technicians.

Companies are confident they will find qualified graduates at Forsyth Technical Community College because some of those baby boomers trained here. Keith Simpson, Service Manager at Professional Air Systems in Rural Hall, N.C. said, “When I graduated from Forsyth Tech in 1980, HVAC jobs were scarce. Now I’m recruiting at the college because we need more skilled technicians and I know the level of instruction they receive.”

One of the students Simpson recruited, Cam Stone, received his diploma in HVAC in 2018. A graduate of North Davidson High School, Stone knew he wanted a career in a field where he could have “hands-on” experience. He applied to the HVAC program at Forsyth Tech and eighteen months later he had a certificate. He was hired as an HVAC technician before he graduated.

“When Cam started the class, he had the ‘it’ factor,” said Dwight Cornelison, program coordinator for Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration. “I wish I had 20 more students like him; he listened and put forth the effort.”

Simpson agreed. When he gave out applications in Cornelison’s class, he only selected one, Stone. He looks for talent and specifically students who are willing to learn from other technicians the way the company wants the job completed.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is working with the team,” Stone said. “With this job, we have each other’s backs. Sometimes the situation can be dangerous as we are working with high voltage. It’s not only HVAC, it’s plumbing and electrical controls. You have to respect each other and the equipment.”

“I like learning something new every day and I want to go as far as I can in this field,” Stone said.