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An Industry's Great Divide

June 5, 2006
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Throughout history there have been walls that separate, imaginary curtains that isolate, and our own industry has occasionally fallen victim to its own divisions. After World War II the city of Berlin was divided in four sectors. The American, British, and French sectors were part of the western system while the Soviet sector was part of the communist system in the East. The Berlin Wall that surrounded West Berlin was built in 1961. It divided friends, families, and cultures until it was opened by East Germans on Nov. 9, 1989, and completely torn down by the end of 1990.

The Great Wall of China began as independent protective walls for different states when it was first built, and did not become the "Great" wall until the walls were joined together to fend off northern invaders.

There have been other no-less foreboding barriers in our world that effectively do the same thing - restrict the free flow of intellectual progress. The Iron Curtain was an ideological barrier during the Cold War generation. The bamboo curtain was another intangible barrier between 1949 and 1972 that kept China inside a cultural quarantine.

The HVACR industry, in the largest sense, has necessary divisions that sometimes cause well-meaning efforts to bear too little fruit. There are dozens of organizations, associations, alliances, and networks within this industry. All provide valuable services to the respective memberships and some, upon occasion, even work together on causes for the common good.

However, there are some greater goals that simply can not be achieved through the efforts of the one - and not even through the joint efforts of the well-meaning few.

THE SUM IS GREATER THAN THE PARTS

There are many issues that are simply too complex to be tackled by any one group. However, if any of these could be resolved think what a tremendous impact for the HVACR industry. For example, what if the workforce shortage were no longer a problem? Many contractors admit that the only thing preventing them from taking on more project work is the lack of trained technical staff.

What if the negative image of HVAC contractors among consumers were a thing of the past? The national television networks' annual sting operations have become commonplace for summertime viewing. It is time that a better message about the HVACR profession should be sent throughout the land.

Alas, without a united front, an effective national image campaign is nothing more than a pipe dream.

INDUSTRY NEEDS A NEW LOOK

This industry is long overdue for an independent resource that would represent the collective needs of all. Contractors, distributors, manufacturers, associations, union shops, nonunion shops - all would benefit. There is a tremendous advantage to establishing a separate body that can undertake comprehensive initiatives related to industry relations and other far-reaching goals.

Other industries have successfully forged alliances to promote shared goals and lobby for the common good. One has only to flip through the pages of almost any consumer magazine to be reminded of the current "Got Milk?" campaign. The milk moustache has nearly become synonymous with celebrity success for professional athletes and Hollywood types. Remember the "incredible, edible egg"? How about "the other white meat"?

Yes, ‘but this could never happen in our backyard', you might say because of all the various agendas. Sure, there are biases and proprietary concerns for the dozens of parties affiliated with each of the milk, poultry, and pork industries. However, far-sighted individuals in these and other industries joined forces to promote the interests of all; and, did so without diluting the effectiveness of the respective individual organizations. Why not in HVACR?

Do you ever wonder what would happen if the walls came down?

NOTE: Chinese history proves that it was only when a dynasty had weakened from within that invaders from the north were able to advance and conquer, regardless of the protection of the Great Wall.

Mike Murphy, Editor-In-Chief, 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), mikemurphy@achrnews.com

Publication date: 06/05/2006

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