There are many good reasons for owning an HVAC contracting business, such as the ability to be one’s own boss, the love of the profession, or simply being bit by the entrepreneurial bug. Some people look back and feel they made the right decision, while others know they made the wrong decision. And somewhere in between are the people who aren’t quite sure - or like to make fun of themselves - and see the humor of being a business owner.

In order to poke a little fun at themselves, several contractors told The NEWS some of their humorous reasons for starting their own business. For example, Bob Pietrangelo of Comfort Solution, Huntington Valley, Pa., said, “I had a desire to starve my family and reduce my pay by 50 percent for a few years.”

Roger Fouche of Schaal Heating & Cooling, Des Moines, Iowa, also kept it personal. He said, “My wife’s snoring kept me awake all night anyway, so I thought 24-hour service would be a way to get out of the house and get paid, since I was already up.”

One contractor started his business quite by accident.

Brian McDonald of Outer Banks Heating & Cooling, Nags Head, N.C., noted that he was working for a company about 20 years ago and was sent out to install two furnaces in a hotel. He had never installed a furnace before because heat pumps were the norm.

“I was reading the installation instructions and had my helper hanging the units when the owner of my company showed up,” McDonald said. “He asked what I was doing and I told him ‘reading the installation instructions, you know I’ve never installed a furnace before.’ Well, he fired me for reading the install manual.

“The ironic thing was that I’m the one who held the HVAC license for the company. So by firing me he basically put himself in the repair-only business. I had never intended opening my own company, but was forced into it by my former employer since he insisted that I assume all the contracts we had for installation jobs. Since then he’s gone out of business, and we are one of the largest and probably the most profitable business in the area.”


Being the boss means being responsible for the supervision of employees and dealing with the paperwork required for licensing, insurance, the IRS, etc. Here is a sampling of how some contractors take this responsibility “lightly.”

“I wanted to enjoy the experience of having my life controlled equally by manufacturers, suppliers, employees, and customers,” said Bill Stribling of Sullivan’s Service, Birmingham, Ala. “And I wanted the challenge of making payroll with no money in the bank.”

Jamie Pompetti of Pompetti Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Media, Pa., enjoys working for everyone now. “I wanted to be my own boss,” he said, “Now everybody is my boss including my wife, my employees, housewives, the bank, etc. And my time is my own - when it’s not hot or cold.”

Some contractors looked at their former bosses and knew they could do the job better, or just envied them.

“I worked hard and my boss never got dirty,” said Glen Friedman of Taylor Engineering LLC, Alameda, Calif. “Obviously his job was easier than mine.”

Brendan Slifka of Leslie Heating & Cooling, Inc. Woodridge, Ill., mused, “I thought I could do my boss’ job better. Besides, how hard could it be?”

It looks easy doesn’t it? That’s what Jim Wharton of the Linc Network LLC, Pittsburgh, joked about. “It was too easy to let someone else worry about insurance, overhead costs, expenses, etc.,” he said. “I wanted to worry about those things. I also wanted to be the guy that the IRS is interested in speaking with.”

But being a boss means that a person has a lot of free time to pursue other important things in life, besides working. Right?

“A person should start a business so that he can leave work early on Wednesday to go golfing and be able to leave work early on Thursday to go golfing and be able to take off all day on Friday to go golfing,” said Dennis Schlekie of Approved Plumbing Co., Cleveland.

“I needed something to do on Christmas Eve besides spend it with my family, so I go on no heat calls instead,” said Kent Wilson of NorPac Sheet Metal, Billings, Mont.


For the sake of brevity, here is a Top 10 list of humorous reasons contractors gave for starting their own businesses:

1.I enjoy wearing all the hats, accounting, budgeting, planning, service, installation, customer service, business development, marketing, and whatever else comes along.

2.I was tired of working for people who thought they were smarter than me. I certainly don’t think I’m smarter than me.

3.If I call in sick I don’t have to worry about what the boss thinks.

4.I enjoy getting to my kids’ special events late.

5.Heck, I can make so much money by undercutting the competition and working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

6.Since I got out of jail, it’s hard to find work with all these tattoos.

7.I have a strong desire to get hollered at by people I don’t know for things I am not responsible for.

8.My sixth-grade teacher said I wouldn’t amount to anything.

9.I had some disposable income I needed to get rid of.

10.Banging my head in the door frame didn’t give me the headache it once did.

If you’ve got some humorous reasons for owning your own business, e-mail

Publication date:05/14/2007