Once on the dentist track, Bob Dak’s career has served generations of apprentices

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif.  – Bob Dak was well on his way to a career in dentistry when he decided to plunge into the unionized trades. Now, with decades of experience, he is one of the industry’s top testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) professionals.

With an associate degree in pre-dentistry, Dak intended to head to Cal State but his then father-in-law talked to him about the benefits of joining a union. He joined another union before finding the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) was a better fit in 1991.

“I liked what he had,” Dak said. “He had a nice house with a swimming pool and a big boat.”

For the next nine years, he worked as “a start-up guy.” Then in 1983, after a fire at the California-based Seafood Broiler, owner Dale Allen insisted on having a certified air balancer in his restaurant. Fire prevention and mitigation are among the key aspects of the air balance trade.

“So, I got a book and started studying,” Dak said. “And I got certified in 1983 in air balance.”

Around 1991, Dak decided to focus entirely on air balance. As he was pursuing certification, Dak found that the sheet metal union training process was a better fit. So, a he switched unions.

He began teaching sheet metal apprentices just six years later, a position he’s held for more than 20 years.

Lance Clark, administrator for the Southern California Sheet Metal JATC, said he’s never met anyone more devoted to the future of the TAB industry.

“We are very lucky to have Bob at our training center,” Clark said. “Bob teaches beginning and intermediate TAB classes two nights a week, teaches the Title 24 classes and mentors other TAB teachers. He’s the lead TAB lab instructor, proctors TAB practical tests and maintains the TAB lab certificates of standards. All this while serving as the deputy inspector for Fire Life Safety for the city of Los Angeles and working as the TAB supervisor for So Cal Testing and Balancing.”

Add to that Dak’s work on the task force for the development of the Laboratory Fume Hood Performance Testing and Green/ LEED Construction for the Sheet Metal Industry student textbook and his work teaching at annual International Certification Board/Testing Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (ICB/TABB) Conferences.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping others,” he said.

“Bob’s positive and energetic aptitude for the TAB industry transfers to everyone he meets,” Clark said. “His mentoring of students and his willingness to offer counsel as they proceed through their careers puts him in a very elite class of educators. His efforts have made him a model for at least two generations of sheet metal workers.”


ICB/TABB, a program of the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC), is the first of its kind to gain ANSI (American National Standards Institute) accreditation for certification in the TAB and HVAC fire life safety industry. The ICB/TABB program certification is a statement that the technician, supervisor and contractor demonstrate the highest level of professional expertise.

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

Those interested can visit the website at www.icbcertified.org or www.tabbcertified.org.

ANSI (American National Standards Institute), Bob Dak, Dale Allen, International Certification Board/Testing Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (ICB/TABB), Lance Clark, National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA), Sheet metal apprentices, Southern California Sheet Metal JATC, Testing Adjusting and Balancing (TAB), the International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
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