Charlett Hardaway said she can’t quite believe it’s been 15 years since she signed on at the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC). After earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, she was hired on March 20, 2006, as a certification systems coordinator, and in 2014 she was promoted to certification systems manager.
As the key contact person for supervisor and contractor certifications, Hardaway oversees the process for sheet metal workers seeking any of the certifications offered by the International Certification Board (ICB). The ICB has the first and only testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) and fire and smoke damper and smoke control systems certification programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Hardaway also sets up the annual ICB/Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing Bureau (TABB) conference and all the meetings — a part of the job she said she misses quite a bit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events.
“I miss attending our conferences and being able to connect face to face with our certified professionals,” Hardaway said. She finds the most rewarding part of her job is connecting with members and being able to help them with their certifications.
The past year has been unusually challenging as she and her husband, Darcell, both navigated working their jobs from home while supervising school and daily needs of their young children, Jordan, 7, and Jade, 2. Like many Americans, they found themselves working from home far longer than they originally expected, and they made it work — often by putting in more time past regular work hours.
With the opening of the new headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, on Feb. 1, a centralized Funds location shared with the International Training Institute (ITI) and Sheet Metal Occupational Health Trust (SMOHIT), Hardaway has been able to ease back into working at an actual office.
“I love it. It’s really nice, a very modern office,” she said. “Though it feels huge and bare because everyone works on alternate days.” She anticipates the headquarters will fill up as restrictions are eased and work life returns to normal.
Over the 15 years Hardaway has worked in certifications at ICB, she has seen the market growth as reflected in the number of certifications available. Membership has increased, and the skill sets members bring to the table have grown. The industry is headed in the right direction, she said.
“Certifications have expanded tremendously. We probably had seven certifications 15 years ago, and now we have 25,” Hardaway said. She predicted that certifications will continue to expand, especially with the increased awareness of the role school ventilation plays in the control of airborne illnesses.
Looking back, Hardaway said she appreciated the guidance of TABB Hall of Famer Jack Webster and all the NEMIC staff members of the years of her employment.
“Charlett’s knowledge of the certification processes and the policies guiding those processes are a great value to our team,” said Dave Bernett, NEMIC administrator. He praised her professionalism and insight, ability to set and meet deadlines and great rapport with clientele, but the bottom line is always character. “Above all, Charlett is a good, kind and caring person and someone I am proud to serve with on the NEMI-NEMIC team.”
Hardaway’s family history prepared her for working with the unionized trades, as her father, Charles Henson, was a sheet metal worker and served as the business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 100 in Washington, D.C., while she was growing up. She recalled being surrounded by the culture of sheet metal from a young age.
“My parents are my first inspiration,” she said. “They instilled in us, to be successful in your life, have a great education, work hard and accomplish what feeds your heart.”
Her father has since retired as assistant director of jurisdiction with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, but Hardaway was not the only family member inspired to enter the sheet metal industry — her nephew Darius Henson is currently apprenticing at Local 100.
In her spare time, Hardaway keeps fit by doing Zumba remotely with teammates on an all-woman county kickball team she helped found — though last season was cancelled, she looks forward to games starting back up soon. She lives in Maryland with her husband and children, and the couple will soon celebrate their 10-year anniversary.
The National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) is a not-for-profit organization jointly funded by the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). NEMIC identifies opportunities, seeking to create or expand employment for SMART members and programs that assist SMACNA contractors.
For more information on emerging market opportunities in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry, contact the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) at https://www.nemiconline.org or call 800-458-6525.