It’s worth enteringThe News’second annual “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. Just ask our first winners.

“The best and most valuable aspect of winning is that our team recognizes that we have a good place to work,” said Steve Saunders, ceo of Tempo Mechanical Services, Inc. (Carrollton, TX), one of the six firms honored in last year’s contest. “And, we now have a reputation to uphold that we want to uphold. So, instead of resting on our laurels, everyone has worked harder to make it an even better place.”

All contest winners will be featured in the Feb. 26, 2001 issue of The News, and in the eyes of past winner Mitch Cropp, you couldn’t ask for a better recruiting tool. To inform prospective employees and service technicians about the winning team at Cropp-Metcalfe Air Conditioning and Heating (Fairfax, VA), all Cropp had to do was order reprints of the Feb. 7, 2000 issue. The headline on page 78 (“Cropp-Metcalfe: Aiming for continuous improvement of people, procedures”) speaks volumes. “It is definitely a recruitment tool,” he said. “I mean it says it all about us in that article [The News] did on us. It generated a lot of calls.”

Hugh Joyce, president of James River Heating & Air Conditioning (Richmond, VA), was just as pleased with winning — and the public relations power that came with it.

“We use it in our recruitment package,” said the bow tie-wearing Joyce. “We had a job fair not too long after [the winners were announced]. We were able to sign up 15 people. It’s a great tool. It put validity in what we do as a company.”

And, that’s what this contest is all about: showing the industry that you operate an hvacr contracting firm that employees love to work for.

Asked about the article on his firm, Joyce said, “We show it from the sales side and we give it to the customers. It’s marketing, right?”

Because James River Heating & Air Conditioning received the most first-place votes, Joyce and several of his techs and employees were featured on the cover of The News. It’s a photo Joyce still gets ribbed about, as he is pictured serving a refreshment and handing over money to one of his techs, Bryan Hayden.

“Yeah, people still ask me about that,” said Joyce with a smile.

Not a bad thing now, is it?


This is not a contest to see who is the “biggest and baddest.” Instead, the little guy has as much of a chance to win as the big guy. For instance, two of last year’s winners, Runnemede Heating Co., Inc. (Runnemede, NJ) and honorable mention Gilley’s Quality Service Experts (West Monroe, LA), employ 24 and 25 people, respectively. Each proved, however, that good things can come in small packages.

Fellow honorable-mention winner Robinson Mechanical Co. (Boulder, CO) is at the other end of the spectrum with 350 employees. Other first-time winners were Meyer & Depew Co., Inc. (Kenilworth, NJ) and J&J Air Conditioning, Inc. (San Jose, CA).

Now, before you say, “Well, if they won last year…,” all of the above-mentioned firms cannot win in the 2001 contest. Nope. There will be no repeat winners.

Translation: Opportunity is knocking.

In fact, for 2001, The News has decided to split up the contest in seven geographic areas. Yes, you will be competing for bragging rights in your area. The News will award a “Best Contractor to Work For” in each of the following seven geographic regions:

Northwest/Upper Midwest: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

West/Pacific: Hawaii, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Midwest/Great Lakes: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.

South/Southwest: Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

South Mid-Atlantic/Southeast: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

North Mid-Atlantic: Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Maryland.

New England: Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island.

We want to know who the best contractor to work for is in each territory.


Remember,The Newswants to honor those who go “above and beyond” to provide a friendly, secure, steady work environment that offers technicians the opportunity to grow through continuing education and career advancement.

If this sounds like your contracting firm, fill out the questionnaire on the opposite page (page 21), and mail it to: Mark Skaer, Editor-in-Chief, The News, 755 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 1000, Troy, MI 48084. You can also fax your completed form to 248-362-0317. Still another way to enter is on our website, Yes, you can send your completed form electronically.

Last year The News started the contest in late November. This year we are launching the 2001 contest earlier, giving you more time to enter. Entries must be postmarked by December 29, 2000, to be eligible to win.

The editorial staff of The News will review all entries and select a winner from each of the respective regions. To repeat, there will be one winner in each of the seven regions. Each winner will receive a plaque and special recognition at a banquet to be held at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA’s) 2001 convention, to be held in Las Vegas, NV.

Don’t let the entry form confine you, either. You can certainly supply us with additional information. Presentation, after all, can mean a lot.

“From the moment I saw your first editorial, I always meant to apply,” said Saunders. “It was easily worth the effort. We knew a lot of companies would apply. So, from the very first, we had to think about what it was that made us different — what characteristics would/could/should stand out in a contest with many fine and deserving companies. We worked very hard on making the best presentation possible.”

And, here’s a little piece of advice from Saunders.

“It was certainly worth the time and effort. It has a lot of value — some easily identifiable, but most of the value is hidden. By hidden, I mean that it is hard to sort out, to identify. But, our people are proud. Our customers are happy. Business and life are both good.”

Publication date: 10/02/2000