Indiana sheet metal worker, business owner inducted into TABB Hall of Fame

Jim Larsen, owner of Mechanical Test & Balance Inc. in Crown Point, Indiana, was recently inducted into the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB) Hall of Fame.

The TABB Hall of Fame was created by the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) in 2003 to recognize and honor deserving individuals for their dedicated service to TABB and the sheet metal industry. Sheet metal workers skilled in testing, adjusting and balancing, or TAB, balance the air flow in buildings, ensuring temperature consistency, smoke/fire damper functionality and indoor air quality, among other aspects.

When Larsen received the call he had been nominated, he was “stunned.”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Larsen said. “I never saw it coming.”

Unlike many of his predecessors, Larsen didn’t take a multi-generational path into the sheet metal industry. His father and uncle were ironworkers, so he followed in their footsteps for the first 20 years of his career. In 1997, Larsen was recruited by a friend who owned a mechanical contracting company in Northwest Indiana.

“I had never even heard of testing, adjusting and balancing,” Larsen said with a laugh. “The first time my friend took me to see a large air-handling unit, I thought it was a semi-trailer.”

Larson was tasked with creating opportunities and building relationships to increase demand for TAB in Northwest Indiana. He threw himself into the assignment, bouncing between field work and traveling to places like Tennessee and Iowa for training. By the early 2000s, he had become certified by TABB, after passing an exam at the Detroit testing facility. He spoke to community members about TAB and was appointed to the boards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Sheet Metal Workers Local 20’s training center in Indiana.

After four years of successful growth, Larsen saw the next step was to buy Mechanical Test & Balance Inc. There were ups and downs, but after all the hard work and sacrifice Larsen is an outspoken advocate for the entire TAB industry.

“Figuring out a building is like solving the best puzzle,” he said. “It’s a rewarding situation for those of us who never quit. I tell young people, ‘You’re getting into one of the best fields out there. If you can master TAB and service work, you can get a job anywhere.’”

Larsen promotes the industry every chance he gets, giving talks and presentations to any group or individual that shows an interest. One trait he shares with the other Hall of Fame honorees is a willingness to help.

“If I can assist anyone, even a competitor, it’s the right thing to do,” Larsen said. “If I can make things easier for them, maybe they won’t have to go through all the challenges that I did.”

TABB, a program of the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), is the first of its kind to earn ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board) accreditation for certification in the testing, adjusting and balancing and HVAC fire life safety industry. The TABB program certification is a statement the technician, supervisor and contractor demonstrate the highest level of professional expertise. Certification is gained through the International Certification Board (ICB), which is the platform for industry-recognized certifications, and meets some of the highest standards for technical excellence and expertise.

TABB is one way NEMI identifies and develops market and educational opportunities for members of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).