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FACAA and PBACCA Recognize 2021 Apprentice Graduates, Announce Expansion of Classes to Second Location

The Florida Air Conditioning Apprenticeship Association (FACAA) and Palm Beach Air Conditioning Contractors Association (PBACCA) recognized nineteen graduates of the 2021 apprenticeship program at a banquet held August 5, 2021 at The Embassy Suites in West Palm Beach, Florida. Due to the COVID pandemic a limited group of instructors, employers, friends and family members were present to congratulate and celebrate with the graduates.

Florida HVAC Insider Editor Peter Montana, 2021 Graduate of the Year Justin Parker and FACAA Program Director Steve Sparks
Florida HVAC Insider Editor Peter Montana,
2021 Graduate of the Year Justin Parker and FACAA Program Director Steve Sparks

The banquet began with PBACCA President-Elect Tony Kiser calling the General Membership Meeting to order, announcing the dates for upcoming meetings and promoting the November 19th Annual golf tournament and December 2nd Casino Night Dinner, Toy Drive and Board of Directors Election.

FACAA Program Director Steve Sparks welcomed everyone and described some of the challenges this year’s group of Journeymen faced as they completed their classes. “We lost about 40% of our program and it was a challenge doing technical training in a virtual environment for a year and a half. Nevertheless, we have 19 graduates this year, a small number by normal standards but these aren’t normal times. Thank you for sticking with us. Secondly, your families. You guys made the commitment as well to your significant others to get through 4 years of them missing evenings with you. Thank you to the contractors for adjusting their workloads and schedules so their technicians could improve their skills. Finally, we couldn’t have an apprenticeship program without the support of our sponsors.”

Steve recognized the efforts of FACAA Office Manager Rhonda Beeler and FACAA Administrative Assistant Lashonda Johnson and announced that FACAA has expanded their operation to a second location. “We are opening classes for 1st year students this year at Chuck Shaw Technical Education Center in West Palm Beach and plan on adding classes as each year’s group advances. The Palm Beach County School Board really rolled out the red carpet for us and we are excited about accommodating our northern Palm Beach contractors in a more convenient location.”

Steve thanked instructors Mike Swartz, Mike Hoosac, Patrick Mesmer, Kelly McCann, Alex Valdez and Nick DeCanto and introduced the guest speaker, Dave Stewart.

Dave started in air conditioning in 1972 when a contractor offered him 4 times the salary he was making as a teacher and has been an ardent supporter of the industry ever since. A past president of PBACCA, Dave discussed the history of the association and the development of the apprenticeship program.

“The Association began in the late 1960s as a means for ethical contractors to share ideas about doing the right things for their customers,” Dave stated. “The apprenticeship program started in the 1970s with Jim “JD” Carr and Hawthorne Sheet Metal Industries in their warehouse. Classes were held once a month, then twice a month and then once a week. A group of contractors started the formal apprenticeship program through the Association of General Contractors chapter in 1982 with classes held at the North Tech Educational Center. One of the students that went through the program was PBACCA Executive Director Pam Ripple. FACAA was formed in 2003 to specifically focus on the needs of HVACR contractors and their employees.”

Dave concluded by encouraging the graduates to take advantage of the scholarship fund honoring Maury Jacobson, one of the most influential members of the industry in south Florida and the state. “Be proud that you put in that extra bit of effort to make it through this apprenticeship program and gain this education. And use your knowledge to help someone else along.”

The graduates were introduced and presented with their certificates and gift cards donated by Tropic Supply. The 2021 graduates are Michael Bordon, Eric Burgos, Jhonny Cauti, Nathan Gonzalez, Renaldo Gordon, Jose Guerra, Ladarius Jackson, Darrell Jordan, Brandon Lemons, Frankie Martinez, Jorge Meono, Travis Miller, Grant Olson, William Pagan, Justin Parker, Anthony Piccone, Alex Rivera, Carlos Urieta, and Joshua Wong.

A highlight of the evening was announcement of the 2021 Graduate of the Year. Criteria considered in selecting the recipient include attendance, grades, attitude, participation in classes and mentoring of the other students. Justin Parker received the 2021 Florida HVAC Insider Graduate of the Year Award.