BENNINGTON -- Founded in 1997, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians.

Headquartered in Arlington, Va., NATE is the certification organization governed, owned, operated, developed and supported by the entire HVACR industry.

NATE certification tests represent real world working knowledge of HVACR systems. Developed by a committee of industry experts nationwide, the NATE exams represent HVACR topics pertinent to contractors, educators, manufacturers and utilities alike. All of the NATE tests are rigorous, multiple-choice, knowledge-based tests and validate a technician’s knowledge.

Bennington Cooling and Heating, the area’s oldest air conditioning company, has looked at the NATE certification program for some time. Currently the company technicians must maintain four different Vermont State licenses which cover aspects of electricity, plumbing, fuel oil and propane gas necessary to work on air conditioning and heating equipment. The company is hopeful that it can get its local legislators to support a law which would adopt NATE certification in lieu of the confusing system now in place for licensing air conditioning technicians.

Since, submitting to NATE testing for certification is voluntary, the leaders of Bennington Cooling and Heating decided that they should be the first in Bennington to do it. Richard Albert the CEO and his father Jerry Albert who is the president of the board of directors recently traveled to Troy, N.Y., where the closest NATE testing was being offered. The orientation and actual testing took two days. Recently, Bennington Cooling and Heating received word at its offices at 303 Depot St. that both Alberts have successfully passed the testing and are now NATE certified technicians.

Richard Albert, said, upon learning that he earned certification from NATE, "This certainly means more to me than all the State licenses that I maintain. NATE is more representative of the type of work we do here at Bennington Cooling and Heating."