Former NFL quarterback and current broadcaster Terry Bradshaw addresses the audience at the Focus on the Future meeting.
LAS VEGAS — A lineup of recognizable names in the HVACR industry highlighted Focus on the Future at the Las Vegas Hilton in mid-April. The event was sponsored by Contractors Services of Clayton, Mo. At the head of the list was former NFL star and current Fox Sports broadcaster Terry Bradshaw.

Other speakers included Jim Abrams, co-founder of Contractors Success Group and Service Experts, Inc.; Tom Hopkins, noted sales trainer and founder of Tom Hopkins International; and Terry Nicholson, an expert sales trainer and president of Contractors Services.

Bradshaw was very upbeat as he addressed the crowd of 1,000 attendees, many of whom are members of AirTime 500 (HVACR contractors) and Plumbers Success International.

“I believe in the short time we are on this Earth, we are entitled to be totally happy,” said the former Super Bowl MVP. “We have to learn to smile again, especially after 9/11 and Iraq.”

Bradshaw noted that life’s journeys are just as important as the goals.

“It was nice winning Super Bowls, but I appreciated the journeys — the planning and designing,” he said.

Bradshaw told attendees that they need to practice looking in the mirror and be realistic about who they are.

Embrace Challenges

“Learn how to sell yourself, how to package yourself, and how to market yourself,” he stated. “And if someone tells you that you can’t do something, take it as a challenge.” He also said that people should look for advice, especially from parents, who are “the most wonderful advice givers.”

He said it is important to maintain an upbeat attitude and to “appreciate life.” “Say ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m sorry’ to people,” Bradshaw urged.

“We torture ourselves worrying about tomorrow; take care of yourself today.”

Bradshaw added a humorous note, among many, to his speech. “We don’t want to think about negative things,” he said. “Heck, I made my living placing my hands under another man’s butt — a very unnatural thing!”

Plan Ahead

Abrams had some words of warning for Focus on the Future attendees:

“There are people looking out into the future and trying to figure how they can take your business from you.” Abrams explored how HVACR contractors could survive and thrive in the future and adapt to changes.

He cited a few examples of how change is inevitable:

  • Product — Fax to e-mail.

  • Service — U.S. mail to FedEx.

  • Preference — 7-11 coffee to Starbucks coffee.

  • Convenience — Supermarket to 7-11.

  • Price — Supermarket to Sam’s Club.

  • Distribution — Department store to catalog.

  • Culture — Gas guzzling cars to fuel-efficient cars and back to gas guzzlers.

    Abrams said that very often it is the audience that changes and nothing else. “I remember going to see Barbara Streisand perform in ‘Funny Girl’ and even though it was probably the 2,000th time she had played the role, it still seemed fresh; it was only her audience that changed,” he stated.

    He also said, “In the world today, there are millions of people thinking about ways to make things better, and that is what changes the way things are done.”


    Abrams challenged the audience to envision what their lives will be like in the future. “Define your life 10 years from now,” he said. “Who are you in the future? What does your family look like? What has your business achieved?

    “If you don’t know what your business will look like 10 years from now, it probably won’t exist 10 years from now.”

    Abrams predicted that products sold by HVACR contractors will be affected by several factors, including technological advances, energy efficiency/conservation, appearance, indoor air quality, and fuel cell technology. “You either plan for the future or have the future planned for you,” he said.

    Publication date: 07/21/2003