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West/Pacific Report:

October 27, 2000
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Arizona Contractors Fight Prop. 202, Nevada Utility Bows Out of Service Arena, California IHACI Trade Show Set for Nov. 15 and Colorado Contractor Searches for Techs


Arizona Contractors Fight Prop. 202

It will be interesting to see what happens with Proposition 202 in Arizona. Many ACCA members in the state are working together with the construction industry, economic councils, government officials, developers, and labor concerns to defeat the proposition on Nov. 7.

In the eyes of Karen Krause, chair of the ACCA Government Relations Committee, Proposition 202 will enact strict, 10-year growth boundaries for Arizona communities. According to Krause, industry experts are predicting heavy job losses, curbs on business expansion, reductions in state revenue, and slower economic growth.

“The grim forecasts may include a certain amount of scare tactics, but the experts agree that Proposition 202 will make sweeping changes to Arizona development and construction,” wrote Krause. “The Sierra Club initiative may have curtailing urban sprawl as its main objective, but the end results may be devastating to the mechanical contracting industry.”

Arizona ACCA members also donated more than $50,000 in labor and equipment in helping expand the Sojourner Center in Phoenix. The mechanical systems in the new, 16,000-sq-ft building were built with donated equipment and materials from many manufacturers, contracting firms, and individuals.

Helping to make the project a success were Norman S. Wright, Thorpe Insulation, Kunka Engineering, Arizona Trane, Associated Engineering, PAR,Inc., John Mansville, W.D. Manor Mechanical Contractors, Sigler Reeves, and American Refrigeration Supplies.

The Sojurner Center is a multi-service family agency that provides shelter for battered women and their children. A new facility was built to help serve its cause. Last year the center had to turn away 923 women due to lack of space.

“We were very pleased with the involvement by our members,” said Carol Goguen, executive director of ACCA. “We were pleased but not surprised at their generosity. In fact, in a recent survey, our members told us they wanted to do more for the community. I think this project shows that our members are truly committed to making a difference.”

Nevada Utility Bows Out of Service Arena

Southwest Gas is out of the pilot light and furnace repair business. That’s good news for Southern Nevada Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Service Contractors Association (SNARSCA) members.

The gas company announced that it would no longer service residential furnace repairs nor provide pilot light relights. Southwest Gas instead is referring customers to SNARSCA. Last year, Southwest Gas ran 10,000 calls for pilot light service and furnace repair.

Association president Mar Dille said that the association is happy with these results, and that the SNARSCA board of directors has designed a referral program that is both fair and impartial. It has set up a phone number that is being given to all Southwest Gas customers who request service. That number will be answered by a person who will take the call and refer three a/c companies to the customer. According to Dille, the companies being referred will rotate on every call.

California IHACI Trade Show Set for Nov. 15

The 21st annual Hvac/R/SM Product and Equipment Trade Show, produced by the Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries (IHACI), will be held Nov. 15 at the Pasadena (CA) Convention Center from noon until 9 p.m.

“If you want to know what’s going on in the industry, you need to be at this show,” said Walt Shelton, IHACI’s president, as well as of Leisure Services, a division of Sentry Mechanical. “It gives contractors a great opportunity with other industry people, as well as a chance to check on the latest innovative ideas.”

In addition to the array of new products, services, and technologies filling the exhibition hall, this year’s show will feature free business-related seminars throughout the day, including:

  • “Eight Ways to Increase Your Bottom Line,” presented by Wayne Morrison of Bryant; discussions will consist of how lowering your price could sabotage your business, how learning new strategies can increase profits, how your P&L can make you money, and how to take your business to the next level.
  • “Working with a Mult-Generational Workforce,” presented by Margo Freewalt of Bryant; discussions will include understanding and managing a multi-generational workforce, their assets and liabilities on the job, and key principles you need to assist with recruiting and managing individuals.
  • “Air Balance Manual J and D: How Technical Skills Can Enhance Your Company,” presented by Douglas Beaman of Douglas Beaman and Associates; discussions wil include how a better understanding of Manual J can provide a competitive advantage in bidding changeouts, and how Manual D can be used to improve and ensure system performance, as well as how air balance can be used to diagnose and resolve problems.
  • For more information, contact Susie Evans at 818-551-1555, or visit IHACI’s website at www.ihaci.org.

    Colorado Contractor Searches for Techs

    David Corteste, corporate president of Cortese Sheet Metal, Inc., Pueblo (CO), needs help, and he wrote The News in hopes someone can pass along some helpful suggestions. He read The News’ recent three-part “Why Techs Leave” series and notified author Joanna Turpin that it’s not easy keeping techs happy in his area.

    “We have not had any luck recruiting service technicians,” he wrote in his e-mail. “We have placed classified ads in newspapers throughout Colorado. People do not even respond to the ads, let alone apply for a job.

    “I have tried nation-wide services that have databases of techs who are looking for new jobs. There were two techs who came to our city [at different times] to be interviewed. Both were from Texas. Both agreed to terms and conditions, and were hired. Within a week, they decided to stay with their old jobs.

    “My experience with nationwide services is that most of the techs are just trying to find out what wages, salaries, benefits, etc. are throughout the United States.

    “We have a small family-owned business. The company has been in business since 1962. Dad started the business, and did most of the service work, excluding refrigeration work. (It was subcontracted). He was a good technician and had good common sense, but with today’s technology, he would have a hard time.

    “Dad died in 1996. We never had to look for service techs until about five years ago. When Dad was in business, air conditioning systems we installed were 85% evaporative coolers and 15% refrigerated air conditioning. Our markets and climate are changing. We now sell approximately 80% refrigerated, and 20% evaporative. So I am dead in the water without good service techs.

    “I would like to have three service techs. We have one employed now. The service technician now does service work, including certified refrigeration work. The problems are: How do I find good, qualified techs, and how do I keep them?

    “When placing ads in newspapers, do you have any suggestions as to how to write the ads that ‘get techs to call’? I have stopped stating wages and/or salaries. Now I ask what the tech is looking for in a wage.

    “I cannot compete with places like Las Vegas, which offers wages of $40 per hour. However, I am willing to pay a good service technician what he/she is worth. Do you have any specific plans (templates or blueprints) of companies who offer profit sharing? Also, do you have any suggestions of how to effectively compete for service technicians? Any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated.”

    The News prints Cortese’ plea so maybe a few readers can help him. He can be reached by e-mail (sheet57@rmi.net), business phone (719-561-8729), or fax (719-566-3079).

    Publication date: 10/30/2000

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