We’re Rooting for Rusty in Round 2 of the ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship
American Standard and Trane Residential are sponsors.
As a kid, Rusty Barnes liked taking things apart to see how they work.
“I took stereos apart and figured out how to make speakers out of the components,” he said. “I still like knowing how things work and solving problems, and I like helping people. My job as an HVAC technician ticks all those boxes.”
Rusty is now training and service manager for Trane dealer Bradham Brothers Heating, Cooling and Electrical in Charlotte, North Carolina. He started his career in commercial refrigeration, working on ice machines and walk-in coolers, and then switched to residential HVAC when he joined Bradham Brothers in 2005—and he hasn’t looked back.
“Bradham Brothers is family-owned and treats me like family,” he said. “It’s the kind of place where we all work hard together and everyone wins.”
Speaking of winning…
Rusty recently made it to Round 2 of the ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship. He is one of only 38 professionals and 38 apprentices to make it this far. To qualify, he had to achieve the highest score that month on the online multiple-choice quiz by correctly answering as many questions as possible in five minutes. The quiz portion of the championship is sponsored by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning and Trane Residential.
“It felt great to make it past the first round,” Rusty said. “I had no idea how many people I was up against or how well I was doing compared to them. I felt like I did really well, but I was still surprised I made it to Round 2.”
It’s obvious Rusty really wanted it. He took the quiz every day for seven weeks.
“I really wanted to be part of the HVAC National Championship,” he said. “I want to advocate for the trade and show people what’s possible. The public doesn’t see the backstory of what we do—how hard we work and its importance for people’s health and comfort. The competition is good for shedding light on our stories—it gives me a voice.
“This work may not be glamorous, but I’ve done very well for myself. You can have an awesome career as an HVAC technician and go as far as you want to. The options are endless.”
Round 2 is underway
In Round 2, Rusty and his competitors are completing a brazing challenge at home in under 20 minutes. Each competitor received a parts kit for a low-side service port for a Trane air conditioner. This is where an HVAC tech connects a gauge to check the unit’s refrigerant pressure.
Competitors must film themselves completing the assembly with a brazing torch with a timer in the shot so judges can tell it was filmed in all one take and in the allotted amount of time. Rusty expects the judges will look for PPE use, time management, proper brazing techniques and if the assembly is sealed.
Round 3 is in Tampa
Rusty, Craig, Auston, and the remaining 73 competitors must submit their videos to the ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship by September 29. Only 15 professionals and 15 apprentices will advance to the final round and compete head-to-head in Tampa, Florida, on October 28 for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. The ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship will air on CBS Sports on December 15.
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