ST. LOUIS, MO — When businesspeople get together, they often like to share ideas — to “spread the wealth.” When HVACR contractors get together, one of the goals is to network with peers and find better ways to run their businesses. When AirTime 500 members get together, as they recently did for their annual St. Louis meeting, they like to have some fun with idea sharing, making the results very rewarding.

Contractor members were encouraged to submit some ideas for an open discussion, entitled “Brainstorm Brilliance 2002 — Bright Ideas for Bright Futures.”

A total of 16 contractors submitted 20 ideas, which were printed up and assembled in a special book. Each was asked to present his or her idea to the general audience and explain how the idea was a useful tool in his or her business plan. After all of the ideas were presented, the members were asked to vote on the best idea. The winner received a check for $1,000.

Ideas featured in the book included:

  • Creating a MicroSoft Excel document to track direct mail results;

  • Obtaining a free $10,000 color printer by visiting a website and signing up, showing proof of use and purchase of color ink cartridges;

  • Using wiring loom harnesses (from an auto parts store) to hide unsightly wires hooked up to IAQ monitors;

  • Hosting a “Client Appreciation Day” to thank employees and clients;

  • Mailing birthday and anniversary cards to employees and their families;

  • Putting together a marketing budget for each month of the year to include post cards, Yellow Pages and newspaper advertising, candy baskets, etc.;

  • Offering to test CO detectors and replacing inoperative units; and

  • Getting a mailing list for “next to nothing” by purchasing a tax roll list from the county tax assessor’s office.


    AirTime 500 members chose the method of obtaining a free color printer as the best idea. The suggestion came courtesy of Vernon Gantt, Gantt Plumbing Inc., Morrisville, NC. Gantt detailed the steps involved in the process:

  • Visit the company’s website and fill out the application.

  • The minimum monthly requirement for usage is 3,000 copies (users are required to send in digital usage report readings each month from printer).

  • All black ink is provided, but the user must purchase color ink. After three years, the user owns the printer with no further obligations.

    The printer is designed to run 250,000 copies annually and can be used for office printing, newsletters, postcards, etc. Technical support is available. A $75 usage fee is charged if monthly usage rate is not met, and a $100 fee is charged if user does not send in usage report.

    Publication date: 09/16/2002