We have been complaining for years that we can’t get good quality young people into our industry. But now, we are putting together a project that I think will effectively reach hundreds, if not thousands, of potential young people looking for new opportunities. A project that will help people see that the HVACR industry is a viable, attractive, exciting, and highly technical business where you can make a good living and have a great career in the process.. 

It kind of all started last year with the “Standing on the Shoulders” video we presented at the 2017 HARDI Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

After showing the video at the closing reception, HARDI director of marketing and sales, Chris DeBoer, came to me with this idea of doing another video — but in a longer, documentary format.

The idea was to create something that would really paint a very clean, concise picture of what many individuals of a young age are going through when it comes to deciding whether or not to go to college, and show that there are viable career opportunities within the trades. That vision is our new documentary, “Hot Commodity.”

In the world of college education, statistics show that many graduates finish school with a ton of debt and end up working in careers that don’t suit their degrees. It’s just really been an albatross around the neck of those young college graduates.

So when Chris and I spoke, he told me, “You know, I never knew this industry existed before I came to HARDI.” And we just thought, what a great opportunity to show young people entering the workforce that our industries, HVACR and wholesale distribution, do exist and have some great career opportunities.

I can tell you from personal experience it’s a viable way to access the attention of millennials and now Generation Z. My son is a millennial, and documentaries on Netflix are all he watches. And so, with how millennials and high school kids watch Netflix documentaries all the time, we said let’s put something together, a nice documentary, that would really show two tracks — one being the aforementioned formal college track, the other being one in the trades.

Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs show host, is a pretty well-known advocate of careers in the trades, and he really pushes that we need more people going into trades outside of his work from the show. Think of our effort here with “Hot Commodity” as giving that message more firepower with industry consensus through HARDI. There are waiting lines out here, and in the good way; there are companies waiting for people to apply so they can give them a job, desperately trying to get young talent sent to them from trade schools. We’re really in a situation where we’ve got to expose our industry and the HVAC trade to the world in a more effective way.

HARDI Documentary

Everybody in the HVACR industry who knows about “Hot Commodity” is getting involved in some capacity because it clicks. We got HARDI CEO Talbot Gee and Richard Cook, president of Johnson Supply and chairman of the HARDI Foundation, together to discuss the idea, and after showing the response from the HARDI community on this project, they jumped fully on board.

This whole concept of getting out there and communicating that this industry and all the related industries exist to younger generations is a big deal. People are passionate about this topic. But a documentary is just the beginning, and there are plenty of ways for HARDI members and others in the industry to contribute through exposure.

Because there is nothing out here that accurately, or should I say, passionately communicates that there are real, viable careers in HVACR or distribution, our hope for “Hot Commodity” is mass consumption. Let’s take this ball and run with it. And I can’t wait for you to see the final product.

To any HARDI members or industry stakeholders who would like to get involved in this documentary project and the overall bigger initiative of Workforce Recruitment, call the HARDI office at 614-345-4328 and ask for Chris. He’d love to tell you all about it.