As 2022 comes to a close, The ACHR NEWS is looking back at the past year in the HVAC industry. To do that, we are highlighting four HVAC NEWSmakers that have made headlines in the last 12 months.
While retiring Service Nation president Matt Michel is being named an ACHR NEWSmaker for 2022, the truth is Michel has been making news in the HVAC industry for years. He has been somewhat of a North Star for HVAC contractors.
One example was in April of 2020, when there was much uncertainty in the HVAC industry during the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Michel was one of the few individuals bullish on the HVAC market. He had done the math with past AHRI shipment numbers and replacement levels, and was letting contractors know a residential boom was in the works.
“When I went public with our outlook that the HVAC industry was going to have a record year in 2020, it was a lonely place to be,” Michel said. “I talked with a lot of manufacturers and distributors, looking for anyone who would reinforce my belief. No one would. I would get these sort of patronizing looks with an unspoken ‘bless your heart.’ It wasn’t just historical shipments that we counted on. We looked at service call data, average tickets, lead generation, and so on.”
And in fact, during 2020 the industry had one of its best years in some time.
It is no surprise that Michel has his finger on the pulse of the HVAC industry. He has spent nearly his entire life in it — specifically, the contracting part of the business.
After spending a few years of his career in the HVAC manufacturing sector, Michel set his sights on helping HVAC contractors. And help them he did. First, he was integral in starting the Aire Serv franchise system. Then Michel created Service Roundtable.
Service Roundtable, now part of Service Nation, is an organization providing best practice tools to help generate leads, close more sales, market a company, and recruit technicians to HVAC contracting businesses all over the country.
“Our mission has always been to help contractors improve their business and financial performance, leading to a profitable exit strategy. One of the things we are most proud of is how our members have consistently outpaced the industry growth rate,” Michel said.
Twenty years after he launched Service Roundtable, Michel is retiring. Michel made the announcement at the 2022 Service World Expo, a show he was instrumental in creating back in 2016.
“I had some great contractors helping me out when we launched Service Roundtable,” Michel said. “People like Mitch Cropp, Larry Taylor, and Ron Smith. Of course, there were so many more, too. These are great contractors. They were our founding members and were all out pushing the program.”
He is certainly leaving the organization on extremely solid footing. When it launched, 100 contractors were signed up for their service. Fast forward to 2022 and it has nearly 5,000 members. During those two decades, Service Nation received a plethora of accolades, including being recognized by the Dallas 100 and Fort Worth’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies.
“I have been able to hire people who are better than I am and smarter than I am, and give them the problem,” Michel said. “My expectations were exceedingly high when we started this thing. We have not exceeded my expectations, even though this may have exceeded the expectations of others. We have not gotten all the way there, but we will.”
Despite his retirement, Michel will continue to be a part of the HVAC industry.
“I always thought I would have something lined up before I stepped down from Service Nation. “I really don’t have anything, but I know it’s time to do something else. I probably would have stepped down earlier, but the pandemic hit and I felt the need to shepherd the organization through it. That’s done,” he said. “I plan on continuing to write for the industry. I have a couple of books I would like to write and have held off starting them until I was a free agent.”
So keep looking for Michel’s hot takes on the HVAC industry. Just this year, he has spoken and written numerous times about the potential downfalls of the electrification trends sweeping the HVAC industry and a possible bullwhip effect that could be soon affecting the industry.
It is not an overstatement to say thousands of residential HVAC contractors around the country have used the knowledge of Matt Michel to build a profitable business.
“I’ve been bestowed a number of awards and gotten a lot of recognition in the industry. I may be the recipient, but every accolade represents a team effort. It’s the team who deserves the praise,” Michel said.