My Two Cents: Finding Positives Amongst the Negatives

August 11, 2008
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OK, I think it’s time someone wrote an optimistic piece in this periodical. However, that’s not going to be at all easy. It’s much simpler these days to write about all of the negative things that are happening in our world. Let’s face it, it can be pretty difficult to be optimistic when you are surrounded by negative occurrences - especially when you have virtually no control over these occurrences.

Just look at the list of negatives facing us as contractors as well as our vendors and manufacturers. New residential construction is at essentially all-time lows. And for the replacement business, most areas of the country didn’t have any hot weather at all until June arrived. Here in St. Louis, we had more heating degree days in May than cooling degree days. Unheard of!

Much of the Midwest is suffering from tremendous flooding, which is interrupting what would be at least a normal flow of products to various marketplaces. Then each day in the mail we receive word of another price increase, many of these associated with the almost unbelievable increases in steel and steel products. And of course, who would have expected we would be excited when gasoline “dropped” to $ 3.85 per gallon, much over a dollar per gallon more than we were paying last year.

All of these are in addition to the everyday challenges that we as contractors encounter such as cheap competitors’ pricing, lack of quality manpower, and the continually increasing effect of governmental interference. Yes, so far this is a pretty optimistic piece wouldn’t you say?



PUT ON THE OPTIMISTIC HAT

Although it may be hard to look beyond all of these issues that confront us day-to-day, I believe we do need to look at the optimistic things that we do have going for us in our industry. The most important is that we have an industry that is surely going to be here for quite some time.

And not only will our industry be around, we provide a product and service which the public needs in order to have a decent lifestyle. Our products and services are not something that is purchased only when an individual has discretionary income. The public is not going to soon give up on the idea of wanting to be heated and/or cooled.

Here is another positive aspect - we do good things for our customers. We heat them, we cool them, we humidify and dehumidify them, and we provide them with clean air. We can be proud of how far our industry has come in the area of providing good positive and professional service.

This is a big change from many years ago. It’s a change that I hope you, who are the future of our industry, are prepared to carry forward. Hundreds of contractors have worked very hard over a long number of years to provide the HVAC industry with a positive image. This is a major positive we should think about.

Despite that very long list of things that we might consider to be negative, in the big picture, we have a great number of items about which we should be optimistic. Remember, too, that our attitude about the issues with which we must deal has a lot to do with our being able to successfully overcome that list of negatives.

We must continue to take positive actions even when difficult. Raising prices, cutting costs, and watching all aspects of our business are all steps which have never been more important as we seek to find the positive when there seems to be negative all around.



ON A PERSONAL NOTE

I have two very special positive things to be thankful for as I write this column. First, that my late father, who passed away some 22 years ago, encouraged me to participate in the heating and air conditioning business, a business I know will be around for many, many years in the future. Secondly, on the day we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary, that I have a wife who has been through it all with me.

You can find negative if you like - but I believe you will be much happier and more successful finding the positives.

Publication Date: 08/11/2008

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