Pass the Praise, Skip the Humble Pie

June 26, 2000
One of the advantages of traveling around the country and meeting all kinds of contractors is that I always come back to the office with good stories to tell.

These are the “feel-good” stories that involve businesspeople who give back to their communities with little or no accolades.

I’m convinced that we have our fair share of humble business owners in the hvacr trade. Maybe it’s the blue-collar mentality that encourages us to give “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” and then return home to spend time with family and friends.

Giving back to one’s community is natural for small-business-people. After all, it makes good sense to support those who support you. And why not? Your customers might include the guy who put in your carpeting or the woman who owns the landscaping business. You need them, and they need you.

But sometimes we forget to stop and think about our business relationships. One can easily get bogged down with the details of every project or service call and leave the rest of the world waiting while a crisis is solved.

I paid a visit to Mystic, CT recently to cover a story on a project involving plumbing and heating contractors who are members of the Southeast Connecticut chapter of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors (PHCC). These contractors were volunteering their time to install the plumbing systems on the Amistad, a recreated ninteenth-century schooner.

Walt Woycik is president of the chapter and runs his own plumbing and heating business. Walt saw this project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and encouraged his fellow chapter members to join him.

Once completed, the Amistad will sail to many New England ports and carry an educational message to citizens and students — a message that includes the spirit of cooperation among people that transcends cultural and racial barriers.

Woycik told me that the contractors were getting some good recognition from the local media as well as through trade magazines like The News. I think the local chapter has done a good job of tooting its horn with support from the Connecticut PHCC. And this entire project points out the importance of making some noise for doing a good deed.

I’d like to see other contractors take as much pride in what they do for the community as Woycik does. With a cooperative effort such as this one, the plumbing and heating industry has been able to bolster its image. Our industry has given itself a pat on the back, and the community has taken notice.

I’d like to recommend to Woycik, if someone else hasn’t already, that each contributing contractor get a special patch or medallion, maybe even a sticker that reads “Proud Contributor to the Amistad Project.” Volunteers could put one on each truck and in the office lobby.

What community project have you done that sets you apart and that you are proud of? Are you getting the recognition you deserve, or are you being a little too humble, assuming that it probably doesn’t matter to most people?

Hogwash — it does matter. Be proud of your accomplishments and let the community know about them.

Not every community has an Amistad, but each has special projects you may have been involved in. Strike down humility and raise your voice. You deserve a pat on the back and a handshake. One of these days I make it a personal goal to deliver that gesture.

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