A contractor's fish story: Smell any truth here?

July 18, 2000
A conversation between a little boy and his grandfather, a former hvac contractor:

Little boy: Grandpa, what didja used to do?

Grandpa: I sold and serviced furnaces and small appliances, like air conditioners.

Little boy: Why’dja stop doin’ it?

Grandpa: Oh, I got tired of the business and what it was turning into. Besides, I wound up working for someone else and that took the fun out of the job.

Little boy: What happened?

Grandpa: In the beginning, it was just my business, “Little Minnow Heating Co.” I loved talking to people and helping them out when they had problems with their furnaces or refrigerators. I’ve always been pretty handy with tools, so I thought it would be a good idea to open my shop and put an ad in the paper.

Little boy: What happened next?

Grandpa: Well, after the war, people started putting air conditioners in their homes. A businessman in town, whom I met through the Chamber of Commerce, was doing pretty well selling window air conditioners out of his home and servicing them too. We talked about getting together and later we became business partners. We called our new company “Perch Heating & Air.”

Little boy: Then what?

Grandpa: Business was going real well. Homeowners were adding condensing units to their systems and calling it “central air.” It kept us real busy. We had to hire people to run the office, sell to customers, drive the new trucks, and service every customer. Problem was, we didn’t really know how to run a business. We were good with our hands but didn’t care about the other stuff.

Little boy: What did you do?

Grandpa: We really didn’t have to do anything. Some guys wearin’ fancy suits and smelling like expensive aftershave kept calling on us, wanting us to join their big company. It wasn’t one of the local businesses, heck no. They came all the way from another state. They were real professional and knew all about the business. We thought about it and thought about it and decided it would be best for us and our employees to join up with ‘em. So we became part of the “Carp Air Group.”

Little boy: Is that when you quit workin’?

Grandpa: Nope. Everything seemed to be going real well. Our employees got some real good benefits and training. We had some fun picnics and attended some great trade shows and meetings. We met other people who belonged to Carp Air. It seemed to be one big happy family.

Little boy: Were you happy Grandpa?

Grandpa: Sure, for the time being.

Little boy: But you weren’t happy later?

Grandpa: You see, I was still running the business but the people in Carp corporate decided to sell the whole business to someone else. Turns out they sold the business to the company who’s been selling us furnaces. They were real nice people, too. We became “The Grouper Group.”

Little boy: Gosh, I’m getting confused Grandpa.

Grandpa: You are? What about me? I didn’t know who I was workin’ for or what to think. It took me quite a while to figure out the whole thing. And by that time, there was another change coming.

Little boy: Is that when you quit, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Nope, this was getting too interesting to quit. I had to see how this was going to play out. Turns out the Grouper people decided to sell to a company that provided gas and electric to our homes and businesses. We became “Shark Gas & Electric LLC.” They owned some other businesses like “Great White Energy Services” and “The Hammerhead Energy Marketing Group.” They wore a lot of hats.

Little boy: Wow, those sound like cool names!

Grandpa: Everything was cool, for a while. Until . . .

Little boy: Until what Grandpa?

Grandpa: Until we sold again, to another company. Then we became “The Whale Big Box Company, Inc.” They owned businesses clear across the ocean.

Little boy: Is that when you quit?

Grandpa: Yep, life was becoming too confusing for me. I’m a simple mechanic and all of this new-fangled way of doing business was too much for me.

Little boy: Do you like bein’ retired Grandpa?

Grandpa: Nope, I’d rather be workin’ somewhere. I’ve always liked helping folks. That’s what most of us guys in the heating and cooling business are known for. Who knows — maybe I’ll go to work at that new hardware store. I’d love to sell parts and give advice.

Little boy: Grandpa, I’m tired of talkin’ about your work. How about we go fishin’ first? Maybe we can catch some real big ones.

Grandpa: OK, but haven’t you had enough fish stories for one day?

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