Pompetti's Challenges â€˜Graying' Theory
This isn't a made-up quote or wishful thinking - these are words from the mouth of Jamie Pompetti, president of Pompetti Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. of Media, Pa. Pompetti is the 30-year-old leader of the small family business which includes his father James, mother Janice, and brothers Jim and Chris Van Dyke. Two 23-year-old helpers, Nick Sacharok (a cousin) and Zach Stanton, round out the staff.
Not only does the family do quality residential service and installation work (photos of their jobs can be viewed at www.pompettihvac.com) but they also debunk the trend of the HVAC trade "graying."
Jamie said one of the first things young people should do is stop believing everything they hear from the older generation.
"Too many of the older guys in this trade tell us younger guys to get out of it," he said. "They constantly complain their aches and pains are not compensated by the pay.
"To reverse the graying of our trade will take education. Not only education at the trade school level, but education at the business level also."
Nick said uneducated people tend to bring down the reputation of the HVAC business, contributing to the aging process of the trade. "The industry needs to have better schooling with more standards and licensing to weed out all the people who make it harder for the knowledgeable people to make a living," he said. "We need younger generations to see that office jobs do not always bring big bucks and that the trades can provide a good living."
Family Tradition LivesMany small businesses got their start with a vision by a single member, which was passed down through future generations. It is not unusual to see HVAC companies run by third-, fourth-, or fifth-generation owners. There have to be reasons for longevity, e.g. pride in workmanship, love for the trade, or an obligation to carry on the family name. All of these are factors in the Pompetti business.
"It is important for us to keep this business alive not only because it helps us to provide for ourselves and our families, but also because it gives us a comfortable and self-fulfilling place to do so," said Nick.
"We certainly do uphold tradition in our company. The business plan set by my dad 17 years ago has proven to be a successful one."
But upholding the family tradition is not always the norm among small businesses across the United States. Sadly, according to Jamie, the tradition is disappearing.
It's All About Developing A NicheHow contractors approach their market and the quality of their work often are enough to set them apart from the competition, which can be very intense.
Jamie added this about creating a niche. "In all honesty, everyone providing HVAC service is our competition, be it another company, the big box itself, or a homeowner going into the big box to purchase an HVAC product and doing it themselves," he noted. "We have geared our company towards using finer products to try and establish a difference from the next guy.
"The majority of our forced-air jobs (above 90 percent) are multi-stage heating and cooling equipment with many of the bells and whistles. For example: zoning, fresh air exchangers, humidification, and air quality control through high-efficiency filtration. We also have a strong focus on hydronic heating, particularly radiant and steam heating."
The Future Of PompettiWill there be third and fourth generations to carry on the tradition started by James Pompetti 17 years ago?
"I have one son who is two-and-a-half years old and one daughter who is one," said Jamie. "It would be such an honor to work with one or both of my children someday. The family business experience for me has been great.
James can't help but beam with pride as he talks about the company today, hoping that it continues into future generations.
"Being the â€˜dad' in the business, I have watched - with pride - how Jamie and Nick have grown over the years. They know their business and what it takes to produce a masterpiece."
Publication date: 10/24/2005