Everybody likes winning, from technicians to contractors and customers. The HVAC industry — from manufacturers to organizations to contractors — uses awards to encourage growth, and this encouragement has not stopped the past year, even with the pandemic. While awards ceremonies have turned virtual, people are still being rewarded for their hard work, and awards still offer contractors a great way to brand themselves as companies that care about both their customers and their employees.


Awards and Recognition

In early February, Malco Products SBC announced that it opened nominations for its fifth annual HVAC Trade-Pro of the Year Award program, with winners receiving $1,000 worth of Malco tools. ACCA announced its two Contractors of the Year in the middle of February. Nebraska-based Air Comfort Heating & Cooling is a contractor that is utilizing both frequent and annual awards to improve company culture.

Why so many awards? Nancy Gunnerson, marketing manager for Malco Products SBC, said that Malco created its HVAC “Trade-Pro of the Year” Award five years ago to recognize the hard work that technicians put in. The company hopes that the program will inspire technicians to keep doing high quality, safe work for their customers, and to keep going above and beyond to ensure a job well done, as well as giving back to their communities.

Similarly, Melissa Broadus, director of member communications and committee liaison for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), said that ACCA uses its award to recognize contractors that make the industry stronger, more professional, and a place that continues to provide great careers.

“By honoring these contractors, as finalists and then ultimately by selecting a winner [for the Contractor of the Year Awards], we are highlighting contracting businesses that are going above and beyond,” she said. “They are leaders in our industry, they are innovators, and they are helping their peers raise the bar at their businesses.”

According to Steve Simmons, co-owner, Air Comfort Heating & Cooling, employees are increasingly looking for more meaning in their jobs. Employees want their careers to be fulfilling, and awards can be an enhancement that helps achieve this goal.

“Everyone likes to be recognized for doing a good job,” he said. “When employees feel appreciated, they typically respond by becoming more involved. When they begin to feel like they are on a team instead of just putting in hours, they will risk investing in it.”


Awards for Contractors

There’s a lot of variety in what can be considered a reward. These can be big or small, serious or funny, and they can reward recipients with finances or simple recognition. They can be hosted in-house, or contractors can take the time to nominate technicians and employees for third-party awards, all guided by the core desire for a contractor to recognize someone doing good work.

“The benefits of recognizing employees for a job well done are not always quantifiable but can help boost morale, motivate technicians to continue striving for excellence, and ultimately help retain them at the company,” said Gunnerson. This can affect sales too, as external awards can provide third-party credibility for a company or technician, which means customers will trust in the company and its employees more and be more apt to choose that company for their install/service and come back as a repeat customer.

Broadus explained that in her experience, ACCA award winners have leveraged their awards as marketing pieces to display their expertise to their communities, proving that they hire only the best possible technicians.

Leveraging an award win for a company’s marketing can take a variety of forms, such as using the award logos on vans, toolkits, uniform patches, email signatures, a website, or office windows. It can also be included on marketing materials like direct mail, e-blasts, and billboards. Companies could contact their local newspaper in order to generate PR. Even if customers aren’t familiar with the third-party award source, they will still view the award as a sign of the company’s professionalism and trustworthiness.

Simmons said that when an employee at Air Comfort wins an award, the company promotes it with social media, newspaper announcements, their website, and more. In addition to this, the company contacts the employees’ family members to thank them for their contribution — supporting an employee enough that the employee can achieve success.

“The family likes to see their loved one receive recognition, and the team members like their family to know they’re important to the effort and appreciated for it,” said Simmons.

It also leads to benefits with hiring, as “best places to work” awards can show potential hires that a company has a great culture, leading to a better chance that a company can snag a quality employee who is entertaining more than one job offer.


Types of Awards

Air Comfort works hard to regularly recognize employees. During Friday meetings, the company recognizes many forms of achievement: getting the most five-star reviews, hitting performance goals, hitting personal life goals, and more. The company also recognized a “Picture of the Week,” which Simmons said can range from a great installation to a cat napping in a toolbox. The winner gets a $10 gift card, and everybody has fun with it. They also recognize a “ProTech of the Year” with an award plaque, formal presentation, and a thousand-dollar check.

“I believe it’s more important to offer routine smaller awards than one big one,” said Simmons. “If you can do both, it’s better.”

He said that creating a positive work culture does not need to be hard, or even expensive. A program like the photo competition involves everybody and gives the entire team a chance to win.


Tech of the Month

The ACHR NEWS runs its own content for recognizing the top technicians in the industry. Do you have an excellent technician who deserves recognition? Submit a Tech of the Month nomination here.