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TSTC Alums Find Success as Independent Contractors 

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 TSTC HVAC Technology alumni Carlos Ortega (left) and Javier Garcia are the founders of Apex Automation LLC, a La Feria-based industrial and commercial automation company. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)
TSTC HVAC Technology alumni Carlos Ortega (left) and Javier Garcia are the founders of Apex Automation LLC, a La Feria-based industrial and commercial automation company. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

Texas Border Business

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HARLINGEN, Texas – When professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning services are requested by businesses, Javier Garcia and Carlos Ortega are ready to provide their skills.

The two graduates of Texas State Technical College’s HVAC Technology program founded Apex Automation LLC in 2022.

The company offers industrial and commercial automation that is used in such places as hospitals, educational institutions and federal buildings.

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“The automation service we install is commonly used by businesses up north,” Garcia said. “Many Rio Grande Valley businesses have noticed how it can be beneficial for their business. The great part about our installation is that the staff of the businesses can monitor their automation system from a computer, laptop, tablet or an iPad.”

Ortega earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus in 2016, and Garcia earned the same degree in 2017. They met each other again in the professional field one year later.

“We were both working on an air handler job for different companies,” Garcia said. “I told Carlos that I wanted to start an HVAC business, and he agreed. Over the next three years, we both gained more field experience. That topic arose again when we crossed paths at another job site in November 2021. Then three months later we established Apex Automation in La Feria.”

Ortega said their knowledge about electricity has made them valued contractors.

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“In the HVAC program, we took the basic electricity course,” he said. “It taught us how electricity is a core component and how to properly use equipment. For example, 24 volts of alternating current or 10 volts of direct current are vital in direct digital controls systems.”

Ortega added that providing great customer service is essential.

“We have shown that with hard work, determination and the proper training, a person who works in this industry can become successful as an independent contractor,” he said.

Garcia and Ortega credit their success to their training at TSTC.

“I enjoyed the theory, the hands-on assignments and the class structure,” Ortega said. “It allowed me to absorb the education.”

“The instructors were helpful and taught us the best approaches to our training,” Garcia said.

Jorge Cabrera, TSTC’s HVAC program director in Harlingen, said Garcia and Ortega’s achievement means that the college is fulfilling its mission to place more Texans in great-paying jobs.

“There is great value to see our two graduates do great things as professionals,” Cabrera said. “That demonstrates that when you apply yourself, anything is possible.”

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers in Texas can earn an average annual salary of $48,720, according to onetonline.org, which forecast the number of such positions in the state to grow by 21% from 2020 to 2030.

At the Harlingen campus, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and certificates of completion in HVAC Technician, HVAC Technology, and HVAC Residential Service Technician.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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