Service World Expo drew hundreds of HVAC contractors, vendors, and allied businesses to the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. Attendees enjoyed four days of education and networking. Service Roundtable, the event’s presenter, also took the time to recognize some leading figures in the industry.

The event, which took place Sept. 21-24, was a return to in-person attendance after the coronavirus pandemic forced Service World Expo to an online-only format last year. This gave Danielle Putnam the opportunity to take the stage and accept her award as the Woman of the Year. Putnam is president of The New Flat Rate. She is also a past president of Women in HVACR and serves on the group’s advisory board.

Putnam likes to say she started in the home services business at age seven, passing out flyers door-to-door for her father’s electrical business. After college, she became the marketing director for an HVAC company in Oregon. Putnam spent some time working at a digital services firm before co-founding The New Flat Rate. Among her activities outside the industry, she teaches weekly classes for high school students about the importance of forming and maintaining healthy relationships and how to get out of abusive relationships.


Couple Shares Lessons Learned From HVAC Industry

A number of presenters gave keynote speeches at the event. Gino Wickman spoke about how to maintain control in challenging circumstances. Wickman is the founder of EOS Worldwide, a group that helps small business owners improve their operations. Tony Drew, vice president of HD Supply, The Home Depot’s professional distribution network, brought attendees up to date on supply chain issues facing the industry. Author Krish Dhanam spoke about ranking achievement.

On the event’s last day, veteran consultants John and Vicki LaPlant shared the lessons they’ve learned in their 50 years of working with the HVAC industry. Vicki LaPlant said one issue she’s seen too often is that HVAC contractors don’t know their own worth.

“You are what makes this economy run,” she said. “You don’t always put enough value on what you do.”

Many of the issues the LaPlants have to deal with concern the challenges of a family business. Since they are a married couple that has been working together for a long time, they are often asked what makes their relationship work. They both agreed the secret to success is always being polite to each other, both at the office and at home.


Numbers Create Culture

John LaPlant stressed the importance of data for a thriving organization. He said HVAC contractors need accurate financial information in order to know how much money they need coming into the business. This helps create the processes that drive everything at a firm.

“Good numbers foster really good culture,” John LaPlant said.

The couple offered up some reading suggestions as well. Vicky LaPlant recommends Wickman’s book, “Traction,” and a couple of classics — “Duct Tape Marketing,” by John Jantsch, and “HVAC Spells Wealth,” by Ron Smith. John LaPlant recommends “American Icon,” by Bryce G. Hoffman, a book about Ford Motor Co. under Alan Mulally.

It wasn’t all listening to lectures at Service World Expo. Money was raised for The Joseph Groh Foundation. This charity provides financial assistance to those connected to the contracting industry who are living with life-altering disabilities. The disabilities don’t have to be incurred on the job. It was started by an HVAC executive who damaged his spinal cord in a biking accident.

Service World Expo also included several social functions, including a night at Churchill Downs, where attendees watched races at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby. Service Roundtable is already planning for next year’s event, which will take place in Tampa, Florida, Oct. 18-21, 2022. Tampa was supposed to be the host of last year’s event before it went virtual only.