NEMIC created the TABB Hall of Fame in 2003 to recognize and honor deserving individuals for their dedicated service to the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau of the sheet metal industry. As it states on the plaque, “Greatness is not where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.” The following is a list of past winners who have made significant contributions to our industry:
Robert “Bob” Dak’s career in the sheet metal industry began in 1974, but it wasn’t until the late ‘80s — when he founded his own certified air balance company — that he realized the best air balance training was provided by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) and joined Sheet Metal Workers Local 102 (now a part of Local 105 near Los Angeles).
With experience and a Long Beach State teaching credential, Dak became an instructor at Local 105, and throughout his career, also taught at International Certification Board/Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (ICB/TABB) conferences and courses for the International Training Institute.
During 46 years’ experience in the industry, Dak helped pioneer California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards – Title 24, the National Energy Management Institute’s (NEMI) HVAC Fire Life Safety program, served on task forces for the development of Laboratory Fume Hood Performance Testing and Green/LEED Construction for the Sheet Metal Industry student textbook and mentored countless apprentices.
Dak’s impending induction to the 2020 TABB Hall of Fame was announced near the same time as his retirement in early 2020. As per tradition, the ceremony would have taken place during the 2020 ICB/TABB Conference, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been an honor, and a fantastic ride,” Dak said during an interview about his career. “It went by fast. It’s been fun.”
Davor Novosel came to testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) from the development and design side, applying his knowledge to his position as chief technology officer at NEMIC. He learned the TAB approach, bringing a unique perspective to the craft. As a member of the technical committee, Novosel brought innovation and his ability as a quick study to the betterment of the group. He believed in using reference-published standards to elevate certification and bring credibility to every stamp issued. Novosel was officially presented with his award at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 in St. Louis.
Pat Pico entered the apprenticeship in 1989 after leaving college, where he was studying computer science. Once he graduated in 1994, he taught beginning computer classes at Local 104, his home local, and two years later he became the training coordinator, a position he held for nearly a decade.
He left teaching to open his own business and returned after the economic downturn, working for the International Training Institute (ITI) to certify testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) labs across the country and as a full-time instructor at Local 104. During that time he also helped create the California Mechanical Acceptance Test curricula and trained proctors in the TAB certification process, as well as helping write tests for the new TAB labs. A subject matter expert, Pico was also instrumental in the two-year process of creating the new TAB curriculum with the ITI.
Upon being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Pico said, “Now, it’s my role to pass on information to the next generation.”
As president of U.S. Test and Balance in Hopewell Junction, New York, Bill Carr leads a growing network of teams providing quality service to large commercial and industrial projects located across the United States and overseas.
A founding member and past technical chairman of the Controlled Environment Testing Association (CETA), . He also has served as a senior member of the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) since 1989 and has presented a number of papers related to laboratory and cleanroom ventilation.
Carr entered the sheet metal apprenticeship program at Sheet Metal Workers Local 38 in Brewster, New York, soon after his honorable discharge from the military in 1970. He opened U.S. Test and Balance in 1993 and became known for traveling for work, including overseas trips. He said he felt the support of his brothers and sisters in the union throughout his career, whether he was at home, on the road, or during the three months he spent working in Baghdad in 2007.
“Only TABB has all these tools,” Carr said. “Every day is like Christmas. Every day, I open a box. There are so many things to ramp up our experience.”
A highlight of the 2016 awards ceremony in Las Vegas was the induction of Roy Ringwood into the TABB Hall of Fame. Ringwood is a former testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) tech, TAB supervisor and business manager and president of Sheet Metal Workers Local 105 near Los Angeles. He is also a founding member of the International Certification Board (ICB). He was welcomed by existing Hall of Fame members, including Don Viningre, Denny Kapowitz, Vincent DelVacchio and Jack Webster.
“Roy always thought of his men first,” said Richard Rivera, past national president of SMACNA and president of Key Air Conditioning Contractors. “I would not be here today if it weren’t for Roy. I am truly grateful for his leadership and to call him my friend.”
Upon accepting his induction, Ringwood said, “This means so much to me. TAB and the HVAC industry were always my true loves. This award is the best award I have ever received.”
Denny Kapowitz, project manager and TABB-certified supervisor at TNT System Solutions near Austin, Texas, has been in the testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) field since 1976, when he started in Columbus, Ohio, with a small TAB company. Since that time, he has worked on projects nationwide, including a large naval air station in northern Florida. Kapowitz moved to Austin in 1998 to work on the final stages of TAB at the Bertram Airport and has made it his home ever since.
Since 2006, Kapowitz has served as an instructor at the sheet metal training center at Local 67, where he teaches TAB.
“I have been enjoying my opportunity to pay it forward and share my experience with the next generation,” Kapowitz said after being inducted into the TABB Hall of Fame. “I tell them that if they are a good quality testing, adjusting and balancing professional, they’re going to have a job.”
More than 40 years ago James Rosier started his career as an apprentice in the sheet metal industry. In 1989 he opened his own company, Equal Air Balance, an independent testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) firm in Orange, California, that specializes in air balancing, sound testing, duct pressure testing and building commissioning.
Rosier’s goal was to consistently provide his clients with a properly balanced, functional and efficiently operating HVAC system. To achieve this, his company adopted the Total Systems Balance concept. By applying this concept, Equal Air Balance has been able to consistently meet the requirements of the owner, engineer and occupant. As CEO, Rosier felt the greatest challenges he faced were the increased competition in the testing and balancing field and the lack of qualified TABB-certified technicians.
Upon receiving his TABB Hall of Fame award, he gave this advice: “For the younger people in the group, there’s nothing better than being involved. The more you know, the better you are.”
Don Viningre, retired operations manager at Gowan Mechanical Inc. in Houston and HVAC Fire Life Safety certified trainer, used information created by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) with great success. Over the years, he formed solid relationships with Texas hospital facilitators as a trustworthy contractor who put patients first.
Viningre worked in HVAC Fire Life Safety before many across the county knew what it was. He made it his mission to connect with hospitals and commercial buildings to illustrate how fire life safety saves lives, just as sprinkler systems save property. Cross training his technicians to be HVAC Fire Life Safety-certified was a first — yet important — step. If testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) technicians also earned HVAC Fire Life Safety certification, they could fix a malfunctioning fire or smoke damper while they were out on a TAB call.
He also encouraged company owners to study up on their area’s fire codes, including NFPA 80 and 105; join hotel and hospital facility management organizations; create relationships with manufacturers and fire alarm contractors; and study specific requirements for health care facilities. For a contractor, a few steps and a small investment can mean more work for employees, who can build a career in fire life safety, Viningre said.
“Be an advocate for safer, reliable fire life safety systems,” he added. “You need to be a believer. You can make money. Be the expert. Let them know you know what you’re doing. We have the tools in our toolbox. You just have to add a little knowledge to that toolbox.”
Phil Gillespie (1940-2012) served as executive director of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Association (SMACNA) of Central Indiana, Lafayette, and Fort Wayne Area Sheet Metal Contractors Association from 2000 until his death. His career began in 1958 as an apprentice with Sheet Metal Workers Local 41, graduating in 1962. In 1967, he was employed as a detailer at Brad Snodgrass, Inc., rising through the detailing, estimating and administrative departments to become president of the company in 1992. After leaving Brad Snodgrass in 1997, he joined Sink and Edwards as a project manager for Conseco Fieldhouse and other construction projects.
Gillespie served as counselor for SMACNA of Central Indiana (INSMAC) for 13 years; while serving a third term as president of the association, he was asked to become the chapter’s executive director in 2000. He taught in Local 20’s training program for 17 years and was an instructor in the contractors’ school for 20 years. Gillespie also served as the chapter president of INSMAC as well as the TABB affiliate manager for Indiana. He was inducted into the SMACNA College of Fellows in 2005 and was named chapter executive of the year and chapter legislative advocate of the year. He was chairman of the board of the Indiana Construction Education Council and past president of SMACNA’S Chapter Institute. He received the State of Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award from Governor Mitch Daniels in 2008.
Gene Kennedy set out to be an electrical or mechanical engineer when he entered college, but he took a chance and it changed his path. In 1961, at age 20, Kennedy left college to get married and took a summer job that eventually led him to the sheet metal industry. The right answer to the right person at the right time led him to the fabrication department at Haines Company, and he stayed on the bench for the next seven years.
“In those days, you had to make everything,” Kennedy said. “There was no buying fittings and such.”
As the industry evolved, items such as fittings were being manufactured and no longer needed creating in the shop. Gene landed in the service department, completed a refrigeration course and started to recognize problems between refrigeration and airflow in the field. Around the same time, he ran into John Christie, the TABB Hall of Fame’s first inductee in 2003, who suggested he take the second testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) course ever offered in Chicago. From then, he was hooked.
“Every day my feet hit the floor, I couldn’t wait to get to work. I know that sounds geeky or corny, but that’s the way it was,” Kennedy said. “You had to understand so much stuff.”
He went to work for Aero Testing and Balancing in 1992 and stayed there until he retired in 2008. In all, Gene worked three places during his career, including the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI).
Kennedy was taken aback by his induction into the TABB Hall of Fame. “There are so many people who are knowledgeable in TAB; I’ve always felt I was at the tail end of these people. I’ve been driven by some of those names already in the hall of fame.”
Mary Coffey was born into a sheet metal family, with a father and three brothers in the trade — but it took 30 years for her to follow in their footsteps. Women weren’t permitted in the labor unions of the 1960s, and by the time the 1970s rolled around and rules changed, Coffey was two years too old to apply for an apprenticeship. At the age of 31, Coffey went to work for a contractor who tested employees for apprenticeships, and she surpassed the requirements and earned her journey-level status. Soon afterward, at the insistence of her father Coffey took a testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) course.
“I’m so glad I did. I loved the first night of the class. It fit with me,” Coffey said.
During her distinguished career, Coffey was a business owner, supervisor, and instructor for Local 19 and also served as a certification exam proctor and subject matter expert for the ICB/TABB. Coffey blazed a trail as the first woman to be certified in numerous certifications offered by the International Certification Board (ICB) and TABB. She had a passion for empowering other women, and often donated to Women for Women International, and organization dedicated to helping marginalized women in war-torn countries learn life, business and vocational skills.
Upon being inducted to the TABB Hall of Fame, she said, “I would prefer that being the first woman at anything wasn’t a big deal. Being a woman should be secondary. Being a female doing something shouldn’t be special.”
When Vincent Del Vecchio began his apprenticeship in the sheet metal industry in 1970, he thought duct work was all there was for him. Ten years later, he was introduced to testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), and his outlook quickly refocused to a complete understanding of HVAC systems and their functions. The new spark propelled Del Vecchio to take two years of TAB night courses through Local 19’s Journeyman Upgrade Program.
Once he graduated from the program, Del Vecchio spent 17 years as a technician and supervisor at Independent Balancing Company in Philadelphia, his native home town, and also became the first TABB contractor in the entire country. In 1997, he created Keystone Balancing. Twelve years later, he refocused his career outlook once again — in the “twilight of my career,” he said — to Keystone TAB Consulting. Working with local contractors, Del Vecchio helped clients meet energy-saving requirements through conversions to low-flow fume hoods.
Upon his induction into the TABB Hall of Fame, he said, “How did I get in the same category as John Christie and Tim Perry? I didn’t know I fit that level of amazingness.” Del Vecchio also showed appreciation for the life four decades in the industry has allowed him. “To be able to get into a trade, a career, I could raise a family with for 40 years, I’ve been blessed.”
The year 2008 was big for Richard “Dick” Wing. He was inducted into the TABB Hall of Fame in May and retired on his 65th birthday that September. But to Wing, the word “retire” was subjective. In 2009 alone, he traveled to six locations across the nation as a TABB instructor with the Association of Energy Engineers/Certified Building Commissioning Professional (AEE/CBCP) Commissioning Certification Course.
The former U.S. Army sergeant spent 28 years as general manager for Wing’s Testing & Balancing Co., where he scored one of the highest scores nationally on the TABB Certification Exam. Since 1985, Wing conducted technical sessions for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Connecticut chapter. Proving again and again that “retirement” is just a word, Wing continued to add to the more than 40 speaking engagements in his career, employing his wife, Sue, as his manager.
“My philosophy over the years has always been, ‘It’s more important to be honest in what you’re doing,’” he said. “I’m the messenger, not the magician.”
A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Erik Emblem (1952-2015) served as a journeyman, foreman and superintendent in the sheet metal trade since the late 1960s, working on notable construction and industrial projects across the American Southwest. One of Emblem’s career highlights was serving his fellow workers as the manager/financial secretary of Sheet Metal Workers Local 49, for West Texas and New Mexico, from 1980 to 1999.
TABB and its Hall of Fame wouldn’t exist without Emblem, who, as the executive director of the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), helped to set up TABB as one of his first major projects. With that, the first certification program synchronized all components of the HVAC industry and is now recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a first-rate testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) program.
Emblem was the fifth person inducted into the ICB/TABB Hall of Fame. “I was humbled by the induction because the people before me were really pioneers, and I didn’t think I had reached the level they had,” he said. “They were out there doing the work. Those people were really, in my mind, the hall of famers.”
Tim Perry is an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) member, certified by the State of California as an energy management technician and by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited National Energy Management Institute as a supervisor in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), sound and vibration and building systems commissioning. Perry is a past president of Northern California’s National Environmental Balance Bureau (NEBB) and was certified as a supervisor in air and hydronic balancing as well as in sound and vibration.
Prior to retiring in 2003, Perry had more than 27 years of field experience in TAB and had designed and installed several specialized pneumatic and electronic control systems for use in biological laboratories and semiconductor fabrication facilities.
He received his teaching certificate at The Ohio State University and has been a member of California’s Foothill / De Anza Community College District faculty since 1993. Perry teaches all aspects advanced HVAC Systems TAB, both locally and at the national level.
Sheet metal work runs in Tom Wilton’s family, as his grandfather, father and five of his seven brothers all made careers in the trade. In 1965, at age 21, Wilton followed in their footsteps. A New Jersey native, he soon found work on would become an icon in United States history — the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a project he worked on for six years.
“When I started, neither tower was above the ground yet. They were still six stories underground,” he said. “I thought they’d be there forever.”
Wilton worked for three years as a draftsman and then as a welder before he was introduced to testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB). He became the eighth person in the United States to be nationally certified in TAB and earned certifications from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) as an energy manager and commissioning agent as well as in light efficiency, air conditioning service and indoor air quality.
While he worked full time, Wilton also went to night classes for eight years to finish two bachelor’s degrees at Rutgers University. He finished his vocational education and psychology degrees at age 34.
In 2002, Wilton was hit by a drunk driver, causing him to lose full use of his right arm. His “unplanned retirement” at age 58 made him believe he was out of the game for good, but after he received the proper training, he began teaching TAB on the local and international levels.
Wilton said he misses the challenge of the work he used to do, which included TAB for the Immigrant Bank Building, one of the first certified green buildings.
“That was an accomplishment to lead a project like that and receive an EPA green building award,” Wilton said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Shortly after Jack Webster began his apprenticeship in 1966 in Columbus, Ohio, he realized his true passion was in education. In the mid-1970s, he took a special interest in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), and his career took off in an unplanned, but satisfying, direction.
In 1986, Webster went to work for the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) training technicians to perform energy audits, and he propelled himself from the local to the regional office and, finally, to the national office in 1994. In 1997, he went to work with the International Training Institute (ITI) to establish the training necessary for the HVAC service industry. He returned to NEMI in 2000 and was appointed the director of certification, then assisted in the creation of TABB.
Webster spent his career teaching the next generation, but he didn’t finish his own higher education until 2005, the year he retired. “It only took me 44 years to graduate,” he said. Since then, he’s been busier as a retiree than he was as an employee. He feels now, as he did at TABB’s inception, that it’s his job to “keep the program moving forward.”
“It’s still gratifying to be involved in the industry,” he added. “I started in ’66, and I think once you’re involved in this part of the industry, it never leaves you. I’ll continue as long as I think I can contribute.”
John M. Christie (1936-2010) dedicated more than 30 years of his career to Aero Testing and Balancing Systems Inc. A mechanical contractor in Franklin Park, Illinois, he was a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 73 for 50 years. He was the founding member and director of the Chicagoland Testing and Balancing School.