'Best Contractor' Takes ISL by Storm

Roger Grochmal
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - One of the reasons Roger Grochmal is the current NEWS' "Best Contractor to Work For" from Canada is that he keeps his workers involved in the business, whether it is at the company home in the Toronto area or 1,500 miles away in Colorado Springs.

Grochmal, owner of Atlas Air ClimateCare and a NEWS' contractor consultant, brought 13 members of his staff to the International Service Leadership (ISL) meeting in early May. Atlas Air is one of several contractors in the Ontario-based ClimateCare organization that belong to ISL.

The NEWS sat down with the 14-person contingent to find out why it was so important for so many employees to attend one function. They all felt the time away was worth the company investment because they got the chance to meet other contractors and employees and will take the knowledge they gained from their meeting back to Atlas Air.

They also felt that being at the meeting validated what they normally hear from the owner after he returns from a business meeting. "It's one thing hearing your boss say it, it is another to see it yourself," said Rhonda Campbell. "It means more to other people in the company [back home] when one of us said we learned it. It validates what we do."

The ISL meeting was divided into sections which involved all different aspects of an HVAC business, including technician training, sales, customer service, and business management. Everyone had a chance to understand his or her role in the company and how important each is. "Every employee is actually a customer service rep," said Campbell.

Grochmal believes in educating his employees in another way, too. He opens up the company books to them. His employees like the idea of knowing what the company earns because everyone has a stake in a profitable company. A profitable Atlas Air guarantees their employment.

Conversely, a happy group of employees makes Atlas Air more profitable. Spending a few days in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, learning and socializing, is one way to keep employees happy. "It shows that our boss cares about us," said Erich Humbal. "He wants you to be a big part of the company."

Grochmal's son Michael, also part of the group at the ISL meeting, noted, "The social aspect of this meeting cannot be lost, either. We do a lot of talking among ourselves and learn more about each other while we are here."

The group also attended each function wearing matching Atlas Air shirts, a uniform look that strengthened the solidarity of the group. "I feel proud to wear our merchandise," said Humbal. "It is a team thing."

So why does Grochmal put so much stake in his attending ISL meetings? "There are operational processes already in place here," he said. "ISL has proven that these processes work."

And what about the other 60 employees who couldn't make it to Colorado Springs? "We have to get everyone to buy into this [education] and prove it to the employees who didn't come," said Michael Grochmal.

Publication date: 05/22/2006

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