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Manufacturers and engineers do it; Contractors should do the same

July 19, 2000
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Manufacturers are certainly not afraid to contact The News to let us know about their newest products, upcoming media events, and/or how their equipment was important in a successful project. Because they have an agenda (which is 99.9% never hidden), manufacturers are not shy — period.

The same can be said of hvacr engineers. They definitely have opinions and, for the most part, they are not afraid to voice their views. Ever been at an ASHRAE forum? Those who vocalize are usually engineers. “Timid” is not in their vocabulary.

In fact, both parties are not afraid to brag. Coming from a publication geared to the hvacr engineer, it was not unusual to get submitted material from both manufacturers and engineers (or their respective firm).

Engineers, you see, know the value of marketing. After completing a unique or special project, many realized that if they took the time to put on paper the details of that project, more often than not their accomplishment would be printed in some way, shape, or form.

That’s not to say engineers are great writers. That’s where we came in. It required the editors and staff to follow up with the engineer and make the copy “readable.” In truth, it was a win-win situation for both, as editors and writers are always looking for copy and story angles. Meanwhile, engineers do like positive publicity.

Are you listening contractors? There is a lesson here.

Speak up: it's ok

After talking to a few contractors recently, one of the comments made was that this publication has catered moreso to the manufacturer instead of the contractor. They said it has printed far too many manufacturer-driven articles, features, and notices, instead of focusing in on the wants and needs of the contractor, be s/he large or small.

They were not afraid to tell me that they could care less what Manufacturer X is doing to increase sales. Or that Manufacturer Y had a factory open recently in Lexington, VA. Or that Manufacturer Z has promoted four executives.

This type of information does not help the contractor, they said. They expressed an interest in reading about ways to improve their business, read and learn about new products, and gain needed industry knowledge — in addition to retiring at age 60 or earlier (like all of us).

For instance, contractor Pat Jackson of Northfield, OH, recently faxed The News, wanting to know more information regarding tech compensation. (And, here’s betting that he’s not alone.)

“I am interested to learn any unique or different ways of compensating technicians — i.e., a percentage of the invoice or gross margin; draw plus percentage; guarantee 40-hours pay; incentives; team leaders receive part of team’s percentage; holdout for callbacks, etc.,” wrote Jackson. “I would like to know the pros and cons. What are the obstacles? Most important: Any problems with ‘parts changers?’”

He added, “I also would be interested in unique or different ways of compensating installers. We have done flat-rate pay on some commercial jobs with success. Has anyone done it for every job? Again, what are the obstacles, the pros and cons, etc.? How do they split the amount between senior and junior installers; or installers not working equal amount of time on the job, etc.?”

News executive editor Greg Mazurkiewicz was handed Jackson’s inquiry and you have my word that Mazurkiewicz will follow up. The aim, of course, will be to eventually print an article that will benefit all hvacr contractors.

Of course, this is a two-way street. By all means, if any contractor can provide input regarding tech compensation, contact Mazurkiewicz by phone (248-244-6248), fax (248-362-0317), or e-mail (mazurkiewiczg@ bnp.com). With solid input, the story will only be that much more thorough and helpful.

You talk we'll listen

Here’s my point: The News staff is fully aware of this publication’s shift back to the contractor focus. Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous staff meetings — and new publisher Taggart Henderson has done everything but brand “contractor” atop the forehead of each staff member. He is committed to this needed return.

To get this accomplished, we need your help. Do not hesitate to let us know about a project you are proud of. Go ahead and brag, if you want. It’s OK.

For instance, Harold McCoy of Callabresi Heating and Cooling in Salina, KS, recently faxed The News to tell us about a new gas-fired heat exchanger his company developed. According to McCoy’s note, they fabricated their first unit in June and, a month later, installed it in a power plant in Norton, KS. According to McCoy, the heat exchanger has been working flawlessly since startup with 480,000-Btuh input, with an output in hot water heated at 419,520 Btuh.

But I’m not going to spill all of the beans here. News contractor relations editor John Hall was given McCoy’s information. With that in mind, expect a story on Callabresi’s “better idea” in the not-so-distant future in the pages of The News.

Rather than turning to manufacturers for advice, staffers have been informed to contact contractors regarding focus issues. Therefore, as a contractor, if you have any thoughts on the subjects below or have an angle you believe should be approached, by all means contact the respective staffers responsible for the following issues:

  • October 18 topic — Certification and training. Contact: Managing editor Barbara A. Checket-Hanks at 248-244-6444; checket-hanksb@bnp.com.

  • October 25 topic — Contractor business management. Contact: John Hall at 248-244-6417; hallj@bnp.com.

  • November 1 — Service spotlight. Contact: Contributing editor Joanna R. Turpin at 480-726-7121; jturpin@worldnet.att.net.

  • November 8 — Commercial refrigeration. Contact: Associate editor Virginia Nowak at 248-244-6433; nowakv@bnp.com.

And there’s always the fax machine. The News’ general fax number is 248-362-0317. By all means, let’s hear from you.

I did not have to ask a manufacturer or engineer twice.

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