Patrick Boldt was feeling the pressure.
Sure, he was vying for a $25,000 first-place check. Sure, his HVAC unit fell over as he started the final competition. Sure, he was in front of the TV cameras.
But two of his biggest fans had big plans.
“You’re done, Daddy? Now can we go swimming?”
Three-year-old Loretta had been cheering on her father, with her sister Aria by her side. They’d watched their dad compete against four other apprentice HVAC technicians, and they knew he had finished before anyone else.
But did that mean he’d won?
After that lovely mid-afternoon family swim in Tampa, Fla., Patrick did indeed find out he had won the 2023 ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship, capturing the $25,000 top prize in the Apprentice Division.
Johnathan Helms of Portville, N.Y., finished second, taking home $15,000, and Billy Dahmen of Niles, Mich., won $5,000 for his third-place finish.
How they got there
The ServiceTitan HVAC National Championship involved four rounds of competition, starting with a 5-minute digital quiz presented by Trane and American Standard, with questions provided by North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Nearly 10,000 tests were taken to identify the best in the field.
In the second round, the top 38 professionals and 38 apprentices were sent an at-home kit to test their skill and workmanship. The technicians had to record videos of themselves putting together an HVAC device in under 20 minutes, and then send in the device and video to be judged.
The top 15 apprentices advanced to the semifinals in Tampa in October, where they had to complete unique HVAC projects in less than an hour, judged on quality of work, completion, time and safety. The top 5 advanced to the hour-long finale.
This was Patrick’s second trip to Tampa; he finished third in the inaugural competition.
“He knew what to expect this time,” said Alissa Boldt, Patrick’s wife. “He switched companies this year and also switched mostly to the commercial side from the residential side. That’s helped him round out his skills, and it also helped here.”
The #1 newsletter for the trades.
A worst-case scenario
The finalists didn’t know what their task would entail until just before the competition started.
“My worst-case scenario would be to position (components) under an artificial roof,” Boldt said, just before the finalists meeting began.
His worst-case scenario became his reality — that was, in fact, the setup Boldt and the other finalists were given.
And it just got better from there. In the opening minutes of the final, Boldt’s unit toppled onto the floor.
“Well. I just lost,” Boldt said he thought — and then quickly snapped out of that, focusing on the task at hand. “How do I get this set up again, and now I have to start over with the whole set-up. Basically, all my worst fears realized.”
“But that also made me start sprinting around,” he said. “I really picked up the pace, at one point sliding across the floor. But you know … in a safe way.”
In the end, the competition balances speed and accuracy.
“Thankfully, I had a lot of experience with construction beforehand,” Boldt said. “But in this instance, you’re fighting yourself, along with everyone else. You’re not just trying to end the day. You’re trying to beat everyone else to the finish line.”
Path to the championship
Boldt started in the trades in 2021, after serving as a United States Marine for 7 years.
“I wanted to get into something else,” Boldt said. “I did heavy equipment work in the Marines and didn’t want to do that full-time after getting out.”
He went to technical school to learn the trades, and is now based out of Lima, Ohio.
“I love that no two days are the same on this job,” Boldt said. “I always have to figure out new ways to do it. I get to travel across the state of Ohio, not just be stuck in an office all the time. I love that.”
Next year’s HVAC competition is set for West Palm Beach, Fla., in September. It’s already on the Boldts’ calendar.
“He’s very determined,” Alissa said. “He wants to make this an annual occurrence.”
More HVAC Championship Coverage
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.