Aire Solutions Service Tech Makes a Bid for the HVAC National Championship
A chance at redemption for Auston Pickard.
Last year Auston Pickard made it to the ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship finals in Tampa, Florida. This year he’s looking for a repeat performance—except now he thinks knows what he needs to do to bring home the $40,000 grand prize. Auston is an HVAC service technician at Aire Solutions in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and he works on a lot of Trane equipment.
Flash back to 2022
Auston’s coworker and friend sent him the link to the 5-minute online quiz that is Round 1 of the HVAC National Championship, sponsored by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning and Trane Residential. He says when he took the quiz, he didn’t really know what it was—he had no idea he was entering the HVAC National Championship. He just thought he was taking a fun quiz about HVAC.
“I took the quiz on my phone in a restaurant while I was waiting to have dinner with my family,” Auston said. “I wasn’t giving it my full attention and, at the time, I thought I could have done better. Never did I expect to receive an email that I’d made it to Round 2 of the competition—I didn’t even know what it was yet!”
To advance to Round 2, Auston had to have one of the highest scores—and he only took the quiz once. He was one of 38 professionals to complete the brazing challenge in Round 2, and then only one of 15 professionals to make it to the finals in Tampa. (The apprentice division also had 38 apprentices in Round 2 and 15 apprentices in the finals.)
What happened last year in Tampa?
“At the last minute, competition organizers changed how they wanted us to start due to unforeseen circumstances around material supply, and it really threw me off,” Auston said. “I spent too much time working on the drain line—I was hyper-focused and I wasted a lot of time that could have been spent elsewhere.”
What will he do differently if he makes it to the finals this year?
For one thing, Auston recognizes that, although he started his career as an installation technician, he’s been working as a service technician for the past five years, troubleshooting customers’ systems and solving problems—and not installing new systems.
“So, I’m going to start practicing with used equipment and do some mock installations,” he said. “I’m going to set up a spot where I can take a system apart and put it together as if I’m installing it for the first time. I think it’s wise to practice my approach, since this isn’t something I do every day.
Of course, none of the contestants know what this year’s HVAC National Championship finals will be like, but Auston hopes they will include some troubleshooting this year.
“Last year’s competition was such an unknown because it was in its first year—we were all on a level playing field,” Auston said. “I hope my experience in last year’s finals gives me a chance at redemption.”
Auston submitted the video of his brazing challenge in late September and hopes to hear soon that he’s made it to the final round.
Who are you rooting for in the HVAC National Championship?
Check out these profiles to see who we’re following in this year’s competition:
More on the ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship
With the first two rounds of the competition complete—a 5-minute online quiz and an at-home brazing challenge—competitors are eagerly waiting to find out who will make it to the final round in Tampa, Florida, on October 28, 2023. To be among the first to find out who wins, tune in to the broadcast on CBS Sports on December 15.