TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Mike Callahan, a familiar face to many people in the hvacr trade, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Convention of the Michigan Chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (MIACCA). Callahan talked with attendees about some of the latest industry trends and the importance of leadership.

Callahan and his partner, Al Roach, work as consultants to independent hvacr contractors and industry organizations. Callahan’s resume includes 30 years in the business as a “best practices” advisor and co-developer of one of the industry’s most recognizable flat-rate pricing programs.

“Managers drive and leaders lead,” he said. “And we need to understand the basic differences between managers and leaders.”

Callahan noted that leaders and managers must have complex skills. He said there is a misconception about leadership being “big business.” “People believe that it must be difficult to apply leadership skills. I think not,” he said.


Callahan believes that the expectations of customers and employees are changing — and leaders must recognize that fact.

“Our customers are more demanding and less patient than they have been in the past,” he said. “That is partly because of the age of instant communications. The days of obedient customers are over.

“Our employees have changed, too. They are no longer content with just doing a job to get a paycheck. They want to be appreciated and recognized for their work.”


Callahan identified trust as a key factor. “The single most important asset of a leader is trust,” he said. “You must be fair and play by the rules. Your honor and actions must be above reproach. Leaders also praise in public and discipline in private.”

In addition, Callahan said that leaders “should challenge their team to be aware of what is around them, and to look outside the box.”

“Great leaders take their charge seriously, but they don’t take themselves seriously,” Callahan said. “Have fun and laugh.”

He also told attendees about a book he read, which stressed that most of what people need to know they learned in kindergarten. “Think about what a better world we would have if we have warm cookies and milk at 3:00 p.m. and then lay down and take a nap.”

Publication date: 05/20/2002