GLEN ELLYN, Ill. - The College of DuPage, a two-year community college located in the middle of DuPage County, Ill., recently added a new college course to its HVAC curriculum. The new course, titled “HVAC Contracting” will include information about the business side of working in the HVAC trade. It will also include a new textbook written byThe NEWS’Business Editor John R. Hall, titledthe NEXT Contractor.

The course idea is the brainchild of HVAC instructor Duncan Russell, who believes that future HVAC service technicians should also learn the skills of future HVAC businesspeople.

“Various types of business training is now being offered by different segments of the HVAC industry,” Russell said. “This speaks volumes to the need. Trane offers several business seminars for their contractor customers. The fact that contractors avail themselves of the programs suggests they too realize that more formal training is important. Why not begin to stress this training earlier in the lives of future HVAC employees/owners?”

He added that there are several reasons why a service tech should be interested in knowing the business side. “First, a service tech or other HVAC employee that understands business principles will be able to make a more valuable contribution to the company they work for,” Russell said.

“Being able to understand the bigger picture (e.g., sales and marketing, the need for trained staff, and compensation issues, inventory control, and an understanding of how profit is generated) will allow a person to play a much more significant role in the success of the company he or she works for.

“Second, service technicians may not want to be service techs forever. Knowing the business side and having some management skills will make them more upwardly mobile. They may be able to manage departments, bring on new lines of business or even manage the entire organization someday.

“Third, if service technicians aspire to start their own company, understanding business principles will steepen their learning curve, thus shortening their learning period. It will also help them better understand the risks of entrepreneurship.”


The College of DuPage has a very diverse curriculum that includes business and numerous technical programs including HVAC. “We created the new HVAC Contractor’s degree to better equip students interested in owning or managing an HVAC company,” Russell said. “We think we are doing something quite novel by packaging a technology-specific program (that provides a skill) together with business courses to enable our students to understand and manage the business.”

This HVAC Contractor’s degree will marry technical training for the service technician with numerous business courses including, financial accounting, human resources, sales and marketing, business organization, and the new course - HVAC Contracting. If students want to take HVAC Contracting as a stand-alone course, they will first have to have taken a course in financial accounting.

“The new degree, and more specifically the new course, have generated a good deal of interest among prospective students,” said Russell.

“We expect a strong response when the new degree and course are offered this fall. We are marketing the degree and course to current and former students of the College of DuPage and to existing contractors that may have realized the importance of more formal business training.

“We plan to use John R. Hall’s book, the NEXT Contractor, as a text in this course because it offers so many excellent practical examples of how things are often done. We will supplement the book in areas where more depth is necessary. I am sure that other institutions will be interested in following our success if their curriculum allows.”

Russell said that other College of DuPage instructors are taking notice and taking action. “Faculty members are highly supportive of the new course and eager to see it kick off,” he said.

“In fact, some instructors plan to take the course when it is first offered. Interest from current students is strong and we expect available seats for the course to be fully booked. We are also getting a very positive response to the new course from area wholesalers and HVAC business owners.”

For more information, visit for more information on the College of DuPage, touted as the “nation’s largest single campus community college.”

Publication Date:06/15/2007