The NEWS “Best Contractor to Work For” contest winners gathered to discuss what makes their companies successful and their employees satisfied during the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition.


NEW YORK - When it comes to hiring employees, the brass at A.O. Reed and Company “take extreme pain” in doing so, according to Ed Blum, manager of special projects. Taking the time up front in the hiring process is one reason why Blum believes the San Diego, Calif., contractor has employees that fit the company mold from day one. “It’s then up to us to keep them happy, by providing a nurturing environment,” he told an audience at a panel discussion with fellow winners in The NEWS’ 2007 “Best Contractor to Work For” contest.

The panel discussion, held at the 2008 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), focused on employing and retaining qualified employees. NEWS business editor John Hall emceed the event.

In addition to Blum, panel members included Gary Marowske, president of Flame Heating and Cooling, Warren, Mich.; Todd Kletz, owner of Classic Air’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Virginia Beach, Va.; Jason Merritt, operations manager for LPAC, Bradenton, Fla.; and Vicken Aharonian, president of Combined Air Mechanical Services, Brampton, Ontario.

“There are great young people at Starbucks,” said Blum, noting that his company looks at a person’s attitude first. “Do they want a career or a job? That’s what we ask them. Just know that they are out there, everywhere.”

Appearance was important to panel members. At LPAC, Merritt noted that beards, long sideburns, mustaches, and long hair are not allowed or tolerated. “We hire on attitude and appearance,” said Marowske. “We can teach them the technical skills.”

Each contractor believed in providing and emphasizing training. “We train every day,” said Kletz. “We have a 30-minute session to start the day. We get a pulse of what’s going on. It helps me start the day.”

Getting a background check and drug test from each potential employee is also a must. “You just can’t tolerate a DUI,” said Blum.

Publication date: 02/18/2008