Max Martinez’s journey from a recent graduate to a successful technician at Pro Refrigeration in Mocksville is a testament to the transformative power of the  IGNITE DAVIE College Promise. The program not only benefits students, but provides invaluable employees to our local businesses, fostering a brighter future for this community.

The 2022 graduate of Davie County High School (DCHS) initially had plans to attend a four-year college but was persuaded by some of his peers and elders to pursue a trade free of charge through IGNITE DAVIE. 

IGNITE DAVIE is a place-based last-dollar scholarship, meaning students must live in and attend school in Davie County. All eligible high school graduates, regardless of financial need or academic ability, can continue their education and training to open the door to better career opportunities and increased earning potential.

Martinez opted for the one-year HVACR certification at Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC). The program exposed him to various trade options, preparing him for a career working with heating, ventilation, air conditioning, or refrigeration systems. He also obtained his EPA 608 Technician certification, allowing him to handle refrigerants directly.

Pro Refrigeration’s state-of-the-art facility in Farmington designs and manufactures heat exchangers and chiller systems tailored to the needs of its clients.

Martinez was impressed by how immersive the DDCC HVCAR  program was. “The school is giving you all the resources. Our teacher would bring in different companies to the classroom… there are so many different opportunities they showed us even in just the heating and air world, and in refrigeration,” he shared.

He also appreciated the program’s emphasis on both industrial and residential perspectives, giving students a broad understanding of their potential career paths.

Jay Kimura, the manufacturing manager at Pro Refrigeration, is another avid supporter of both the IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program and DDCC’s HVCAR program. To Kimura, Martinez’s ambition and the practical skills he gained from DDCC made him a standout candidate. 

“During the interview process, Martinez was very confident and concise and was able to describe the various things he’d done in the classroom, what he was learning, and what his goals were going forward. He was able to give me a rundown of what his vision was. It was a very easy hire.”

Beginning with his hire at Pro Refrigeration in June 2023, Martinez’s journey within the company has been notably swift. Pro Refrigeration manufactures industrial chiller systems for the food and beverage industry. Each product is custom-built in-house based on the needs of the client.

Martinez’s tasks at Pro Refrigeration’s manufacturing plant off Farmington Road vary daily, from building coils and mounting metal frames to ensuring the functionality of refrigeration units in the testing area. 

His one-year goal was to start assisting with service calls in the field, which he achieved in just three months. His three-year goal is to be able to work as a service technician in the field independently. At year five, he hopes to be a full refrigeration technician, capable of meeting any challenge. 

Speaking to his progression, Kimura noted, “I think the biggest thing with Martinez’s growth is his want and work ethic. He hasn’t been afraid to jump into some of the positions we’ve asked him to fill, which makes a world of difference. He’s a true team player.”

Max Martinez checking the electrical connections of a chiller system as Jay Kimura looks on

Martinez first heard about IGNITE DAVIE while in middle school. Teachers continued encouraging students to consider the program throughout his time at DCHS. The program’s impact became apparent at the end of high school.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I was going to do. And this was like a light in the dark,” said Martinez. 

He was particularly motivated by the prospect of not having to stress about financial aid. Thanks to IGNITE DAVIE, his classes at DDCC and the Section 608 certification exam were completely free. 

IGNITE DAVIE – Building a Pipeline of Talent

Kimura emphasized the importance of programs like IGNITE DAVIE in introducing students to various industries. “For me, I think it’s just exciting to see the students be involved in trades because the trades are a dying breed. And the trades will always help students through life, no matter what,” he said.

The hands-on experience and exposure to different fields help students make informed decisions about their future careers, ensuring a well-prepared workforce and pipeline of young talent for local businesses.

“If you say in the classroom, you can pursue CNC programming, for example, kids are going to think, ‘well, what’s CNC programming?’ But when you get to see the actual laser running and see metal get cut, it’s an eye-opener, Kimura described.

“The big thing with manufacturing is, you need folks. You need employees, and with the younger generation being introduced to what jobs there are, the different factories, the different employment opportunities, it’s key. It’s not just Pro Refrigeration. This program helps build the interest of the students as they’re making those career decisions.”

For Martinez, the answer for anyone interested in IGNITE DAVIE is clear – “Do it. It’s a great program. If you’re in high school and you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life, do IGNITE DAVIE; go to DDCC for a couple of years and get a trade or associate degree. Free school? You can’t beat that.”

Kimura agreed that IGNITE DAVIE is an excellent opportunity for all students, whether they are interested in a trade certification, associate degree, or want to get a jumpstart on a four-year degree without incurring debt. “If their heart is in it, they’re going to succeed. They will make a very good living at what they do and a life for themselves. To have a program that pays for your schooling is second to none.”

You Can Help Support Davie County Students

Max Martinez is one of the many students within our community who have benefited from IGNITE DAVIE, but none of this would be possible without you. IGNITE DAVIE not only provides financial support for students, but fosters an environment where students grow, learn, and quickly become self-sufficient in their chosen fields. IGNITE DAVIE benefits more than high school seniors; it benefits you. Once it’s permanently endowed, it will help business owners, teachers, parents of elementary schoolers, grandparents, students who want to work with their hands, first-generation college students, and students who wish to attend a 4-year university— in some way or another, it benefits our entire community!

To make IGNITE DAVIE sustainable, the Davie Community Foundation is helping to raise the final $250,000 of the $3 million endowment goal. Once achieved, the endowment will provide annual earnings to cover program costs indefinitely. To add your support, visit and select IGNITE DAVIE from the dropdown list. To learn more about the IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program, visit

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