Although I know the refrigeration business is a very tough one, I still think refrigeration contractors and technicians have it better on the “R” side of the business than do the guys on the HVAC side.

Why is that? Let me start by telling you about Benny From The Bronx. I’m not exactly the world’s handiest guy. That’s why Benny is a great guy to know. Several years ago a friend of mine married Benny — a tough, blunt gentleman who came to Cleveland after growing up in The Bronx. I addition to being a good husband for my friend, Benny has turned out to be an excellent handyman for me and my wife. He knows how to fix just about anything, and does very nice renovation work. Most recently he re-did our entire laundry room: new paint, new laminate floor, new wash tub and faucet, even a new door.

Benny is a perfectionist. He takes pride in doing the job right, no matter what. Therefore, one of Benny’s trademarks is complaining about contractors. He thinks most of them do shoddy work and charge way too much to do it.  Needless to say, you do not want to be the guy Benny calls out to his house when he needs something done that’s outside of his realm of expertise — such as HVAC. He will watch you like a menacing hawk and then complain about how much you charge.

I have tried to explain to Benny about how — unlike his freelance-style handyman work — professional contractors must deal with a tremendous amount of overhead. You know the list all too well: payroll, taxes of all sorts, workers comp, hiring, training, insurance, vehicles and maintenance, supplies, marketing, and the list goes on. There are good reasons why contractors charge what they do. He pretty much doesn’t want to hear it.

Which brings me back around to why it’s better here on the refrigeration side: there might just be a little more respect and a little less distrust. Customers such as supermarkets and restaurants, who have thousands (or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in inventory at stake, a large investment in equipment, and ongoing concerns over energy costs, are more likely to understand the true value of a good refrigeration contractor. They probably trust and appreciate you more than the Bennys of the world will ever appreciate their HVAC guys.

So the next time you’re having a bad day and the business seems tough, count your blessings compared to our HVAC comrades. I think the R is HVACR stands not only for refrigeration, but also for respect.