08 Feb 2022

Trade Talk | Rick Nadeau on HVAC Trends, Training, and Technology


On this episode of Trade Talk, Rick Nadeau the Director of Training and Technical Services for Samsung shares some of his insights on HVAC trends, training, and technology. Rick has been in the HVAC industry for 36 years and is a thought leader when it comes to HVAC. 

Here's a breakdown of what you'll learn:

  • How he got started in the HVAC industry
  • What it’s like working for Samsung
  • Wind-Free™ Technology
  • Trends over the last couple of years dealing with COVID and ways Samsung has adapted
  • What’s involved with Samsung’s Mobile Training Centers
  • HVAC trends related to support and technical training



Connect with Nick and Rick:

Nick Ahrens

Rick Nadeau, Samsung


Read the transcript:

Nick Ahrens: Hi there. I'm Nick Ahrens, the National Accounts Manager here at JB Warranties. And we're here with another episode of Trade Talk. Today we have Rick Nadeau, the Director of Technical Services and Training at Samsung HVAC. Rick thanks for being here. Would you tell us a little bit about how you got started in HVAC and introduce yourself?

Rick Nadeau: Sure. My name is Rick Nadeau. I'm the Director of Technical Services and Training at Samsung HVAC. We're actually out of Roanoke, Texas. Actually got started in the HVAC industry about 36 years ago. So been in the HVAC industry for quite a long time. Started as a mechanic. I went to trade school. I was really into the hands on aspect of the HVAC industry.

Rick Nadeau: And then quickly realized I'd like to do more with this. I went back for my engineering degree. Worked as a mechanical engineer. And then worked with several companies, manufacturers, over the years. And now I'm with Samsung.

Nick Ahrens: Excellent, excellent. Well thank you for being here. Can you tell us a little bit what it's been like working with Samsung. With all that experience, you've got to have some great insight working there?

Rick Nadeau: Yeah, Samsung really just a great company when we look at Samsung in general. And before I even started with the company, I think I had five of their TVs. Just loved the technology and quality of the products. It really stands out. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've had one issue with any of those products.

Rick Nadeau: Same thing holds true on the HVAC side as well. And so how do you take the products that we're familiar with from a consumer perspective and move that into the HVAC industry. Very interesting. So I really enjoy Samsung. Love the brand. And again, a lot of those things that they do from a quality perspective, an innovation perspective carry over very nicely to the HVAC industry.

Nick Ahrens: Definitely. And I think some of the new technology that's in the Samsung HVAC, like the wind free technology, talks to those innovative things that Samsung's doing. Can you expand on that? Tell us about the wind free a little bit?

Rick Nadeau: Sure, yeah. We talk about wind free ... And when you look at HVAC, one of things about the HVAC industry not a lot of change over the years. But Samsung has really stepped it up with a couple of innovations. One is the wind free technology that you mentioned. And that technology is carried over in a lot of products, whether it's residential or even commercial products as well.

Rick Nadeau: And it addresses one main customer pain point and that's around draft on the occupant. And I think we've all been in the situation where we've been sitting in a restaurant, for example, and all of a sudden the AC kicks on and you feel that cold draft on you. You're uncomfortable. You may want to move. Maybe you have to put a sweater on.

Rick Nadeau: And Samsung has really addressed that with the wind free technology. And the way it works is when you approach set point or when the system approaches set point, the louvers will actually close off naturally. And all that air diffuses through many holes in the fascia panel.

Rick Nadeau: And therefore, you can still maintain space temperature. But at the same time, you've essentially mitigated the draft on the occupant. So great technology and can be used in a lot of those draft sensitive applications as well.

Nick Ahrens: Definitely great. So it's obviously been an interesting couple of years in this industry and around the world. What have you seen as far as trends when it comes to after market support? Training trends when it comes to supporting people during COVID and supporting your contractors?

Rick Nadeau: Yeah, and from my perspective, support is key. You can have the best products in the world which I believe Samsung does and the most innovative products. But unless you have that support infrastructure in place, it's very difficult to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and keep folks coming back for more. At the end of the day, it's about that experience throughout the life cycle of the product.

Rick Nadeau: So from perspective it's critical that we provide a high level of support even through COVID, for example. We have leverage technologies such as Go to Assist and some of those things which allow us to monitor equipment remotely. And be able to effectively diagnose from a remote perspective.

Rick Nadeau: Prior to COVID, a lot of times you'd end up at a job site to really look at the data and analyze the system and so on. And now one of the positives that came out of COVID is really our ability to leverage these technologies to be as effective, if not more effective, than we were prior to COVID.

Rick Nadeau: So it's all about leveraging technologies and still being able to provide that high level of support regardless of the circumstances.

Nick Ahrens: Absolutely. And that makes sense just the infrastructure being there. It has to be there or you're just going to fall flat because people won't be able to get the support they need if you can't be in person, right?

Nick Ahrens: So one of the things that Samsung has done is created these mobile training centers, I believe, over the last few years. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And how that's addressed this need to be remote?

Rick Nadeau: Yeah. We have a mobile training center. We actually have three main training locations. Two fixed. One is in Roanoke, Texas. And the other in Santa Fe Springs, California.

Rick Nadeau: And then both of those are very good representation of the products that are sold within those local markets. And we can conduct anything from product training to advanced diagnostic training at those facilities.

Rick Nadeau: One of the things we saw a need for was the ability to bring training to the people that need it when they need it. Because at the end of the day, we understand that when mechanics need to take training, it's not just lost time, but it's lost revenue opportunity.

Rick Nadeau: They're aware from the office, the travel expense, all those things. So it's very important that we have the capability of bringing the training to people that need it when they need it. On time training so to speak.

Nick Ahrens: Right, right.

Rick Nadeau: And one of the things we're able to do is develop a mobile training center. And this is essentially a 24 foot box truck that has the ability to expand. We have all of our product represented on there. But residential and commercial as well.

Rick Nadeau: And the beauty of it is we have the ability to perform the same level of training that we would at our fixed locations on the mobile training center because it's equipped with a generator. On board generator.

Rick Nadeau: We can operate the equipment simultaneously and it's just a really neat thing. We have the ability to bring it to any location. We've been focusing mainly in the east right now just because of the population density. And it's very difficult for folks to get around in those areas. So we bring it to those folks.

Rick Nadeau: Have an event. It's really exciting because one of the things I've found. Even from the standpoint of articulating the value of the products and showing and demonstrating the innovation, how exciting is it when you can actually see the product.

Rick Nadeau: And that to me is so much more impactful than just looking at it in a brochure. And it really makes an impact when folks see it. So whether we use it for showcases or whether we use it for actual technical training, gives a lot of flexibility.

Nick Ahrens: Well and I'm sure that technical training on the front end, right? Being able to do that helps the after market support as well, right? Because if you can train with the information they need right off the bat, they don't have the issues down the line.

Rick Nadeau: That's correct. And from the standpoint of obviously the technologies require a certain level of training and knowledge for folks to be effective. And the training that we develop is really focused on those things. What are the critical things that you need to do as a mechanic or as a person operating the equipment to get the most out of the product or to make sure that it's gets installed properly the first time.

Rick Nadeau: Because at the end of the day, if you can go ahead and install the system. You've gone through all the steps properly. You push the button. It starts off. You can't get much better than that. The customer's thrilled to death. They now have cooling or heating within the space. And you don't have to worry about going through and addressing any potential issues there.

Rick Nadeau: So the training really provides that level of knowledge that's needed to be effective as an organization to be able to install the products.

Rick Nadeau: And that's across the industry. Regardless of what you're installing, having that level of knowledge to be effective is only going to help certainly the brand. But also you as a mechanical contractor in a local market to expand your business as well. If you're successful, everybody's going to be successful.

Nick Ahrens: We definitely being a warranty industry, we know that making sure the system's working and right when the customer wants it is a great way to keep them happy. And not working right is a way to keep them unhappy.

Nick Ahrens: So that's great. It's wonderful all the training that you all are implementing to really support your contractor base. Are you seeing any other trends as far as what's going to be happening in the future moving forward with your support, with support in general for this industry and technical training?

Rick Nadeau: Yeah, I think where we look at support, as I mentioned previously, we have learnt a lot with COVID. And some of the things we did very quickly because we knew there was still that inherent need to train folks and get them up to speed even during COVID.

Rick Nadeau: We actually migrated all of our core curriculum, the installation training, the diagnostic training, product training over to an online on demand format. The beauty of that is you can watch and take the training right at your home, right at your computer.

Rick Nadeau: And again, getting that knowledge in the hands of the people that need it when they need it. Maybe it's the night before they go out to a job site to do an install. How great would it be to watch a very quick training, whether it's a video or a training program that's going to provide the guidance you need to be effective during that install the next day.

Nick Ahrens: Absolutely.

Rick Nadeau: Or because it's done in a modular format, if you're the electrician and all you really need to know is how do I connect the wires to this piece of equipment, you can watch a five minute training module and be up to speed and be effective at what you do as well.

Rick Nadeau: So right sizing the training for the audience is also very critical. And I see a lot of organizations moving in that direction. You've also seen a lot more webinars that are being conducted. Obviously leveraging Microsoft Teams and some of those things to really be effective and provide the training.

Rick Nadeau: And there's a lot of technologies out there that allow us to do that and continue to provide training. But you'll see webinars as we progress forward. And I don't necessarily think it's going to go back to quite the way it was.

Rick Nadeau: We know more than we did previously. And we're going to continue to leverage those resources. Because my goal particularly in the tech support side and the support side in general is how do we, if there is an issue, how do we address it quickly? How do we respond quickly as an organization? How do we address the problem, get that system up and running as quickly as possible?

Nick Ahrens: Right.

Rick Nadeau: And that's really my goal. And we're going to leverage those technologies. If we can do it remotely, wonderful. If not, that's when we get out to the job site and really support from a local perspective. But boy if we can get it done quickly and get it online. As you know in the warranty side as well, that's very important.

Nick Ahrens: Right, right. Yeah it definitely, it's a competitive advantage. And just when you're describing those modular training units, that really if ... I mean even on the sales side of it. If they need to learn a little bit more about a particular aspect of the product to give that homeowner or that building owner the information that they need to make the right decision, right? So that the sales and the service side of it, that's really impactful overall. And it's going to open up more business for all these contractors.

Rick Nadeau: Yeah, and it's interesting you mentioned the homeowner. Because I think one of the things we do have a tendency to focus on as manufacturers is the installation and the troubleshooting and the diagnostics. But also we want to make sure that the end user gets the maximum benefit from the product.

Rick Nadeau: And we're actually in the process of recording videos that'll go on to YouTube and certainly in our learning management system as well. But that are available to the end user. And again, how do you get the most out of the equipment? How do you maintain it effectively to maximize performance throughout the life cycle of that product?

Rick Nadeau: How do you operate the remote controls to get the most out of that as well? How do you leverage the wind free technology to mitigate that draft that we talked about? So there's a lot of things that we're going to focus on from a user perspective. How do you use that equipment and get the most out of it and the most efficient operation out of it as well?

Nick Ahrens: Yeah. And that's great because, in my opinion, educating that consumer, that homeowner is only going to make the contractor's job easy, right? Because if they see oh if I just maintain this equipment, the contractor come in and describes hey you've been taking great care of this. We don't have to make any repairs.

Nick Ahrens: It's a lot better relationship moving forward and anything that does come up, they may be a little bit more knowledgeable and understanding when the contractor says hey, we need to fix this. We need to just take care of it and get you up and running again.

Rick Nadeau: Yeah, and at least they understand how something should work, right? And then oh the video said it should be doing this. It's not quite doing it. Well let me call the contractor, get him out and see if we can't figure that out.

Rick Nadeau: But gives them a nice baseline to go from. This is how it should be functioning. It's not. Let's figure out what we can do there.

Rick Nadeau: And really the other thing that's when I look at the Samsung products is now it's ... I've thought about as we're talking. We look at the Samsung products and not only the innovation, but I look at maintainability and service ability as well. So two very key components of it because we want to make sure that we minimize the amount of maintenance that's required, again, to maximize performance.

Rick Nadeau: And there's very little, particularly with these technologies, very little maintenance that's required on them.

Rick Nadeau: And that, to me, is exciting. I come from a background where there was a lot of maintenance on equipment, whether it's a chiller or those type of things where you need to clean tubes on a regular basis, change oil. These systems, again, very little maintenance associated with them which is nice.

Rick Nadeau: And the other thing that jumped out at me when I first started with Samsung was really the focus on serviceability. And as a mechanic myself, starting in the industry as a mechanic, serviceability was key because when obviously the more serviceable it is, the ease of access to things. The quicker you can fix a problem.

Rick Nadeau: And also it's a lot easier on you as well. You're not bending over and in these odd positions to get to certain components on the system.

Nick Ahrens: Right, right.

Rick Nadeau: And one of the things that was amazing to me is when I looked at one of the products in the back. I actually disconnected a board and there was probably about 15, 20 connectors that went to this board. It was the main board on it.

Rick Nadeau: And after I did that, I'm like ooh, how am I going to get the new board in. And I was like okay, this might be challenging based on my prior experience with other manufacturers, right? Where what wire goes where? I didn't mark anything.

Rick Nadeau: And I said, well let me pop it in place. So I put the new board in and I started looking at the connectors. And I said oh this one's red. And oh yeah, there's a red one on that board. It's the right size. Click click. Within I would say 30 seconds, I had all the connectors connected back up and that piece of equipment was functional again. And I was just like wow, that's amazing.

Rick Nadeau: And really the thought to do that. The color coding of the connectors and really the different size where they could only fit in one place makes it impossible to mess up, right?

Rick Nadeau: And that's great from a technician perspective. I don't have to worry about marking what goes where. Don't have to focus on that. So that was another thing that really is neat. And most manufacturers don't think of that. That's an afterthought. But it is important as we're discussing.

Nick Ahrens: Right. And when you say it's important, it's also, for a manufacturer as large as Samsung, that's no easy undertaking either. So it was a strategic decision to make it like that, right?

Rick Nadeau: No question. The brand and that is very [inaudible 00:16:41]. I mean Samsung is a well known global brand. And it's important that that reputation is there. And if it's easy to fix, easy to operate. Innovative, simple to fix, you're going to have that loyal customer base coming back.

Rick Nadeau: Because quite honestly, their experience has been outstanding, both from the new product install to ultimately the experiences they've had after the fact as well.

Nick Ahrens: Yeah, any service needs or anything like that. That's wonderful.

Rick Nadeau: Yep.

Nick Ahrens: Well, Rick, thank you so much for the time today. We really appreciated learning about your history and a little bit more about Samsung. We appreciate it. You all have a great day.

Rick Nadeau: Thank you.