BETHPAGE, NY — Dan Holohan is the classic example of a person caught between two professions. On the one hand, he has been a “student” in the study of hot water and steam heating equipment, both as a sales rep and researcher. On the other hand, he has successfully fulfilled his lifelong ambition to be a writer and lecturer.

To many web surfers, Holohan is known for his website “Wet Head Watering Hole.” On this site, visitors can chat with their peers in the hvacr trade, browse for reading material authored by Holohan and others, order tapes or printed attire, and link up to other useful sites involving the hvacr trade.

Holohan is reaping the rewards of his dual profession.

“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid,” he said. “When I got out of junior college, my dad, who was working for a parts wholesaler, suggested that I go into civil service or follow him into the heating business.”

Holohan put his love for writing on hold and became a student in the history of old buildings with steam heating equipment, while selling heating equipment. Living on Long Island, NY, he had a lot of examples to choose from.

“I started [a second career] by writing a newsletter and a book for the company I was selling equipment for,” he said. “I eventually got a column in a trade magazine and began getting national attention.”

Holohan rode a wave of success in a field where little had been written about and few people were considered true experts. He published his first book in 1992 and continues today as a freelance writer and author.

He also gives lectures on the subject of steam and hot water heating. These topics are covered thoroughly on his website.

'Wethead Gazette'

Holohan started his “Wethead Gazette” Web site in March 1997 and kept adding features to it, including “The Wall,” a forum for comments, questions, and answers.

“The Wall is a good place for contractors and homeowners to come together,” he said. “I didn’t think the response to The Wall would be as good as it was. There is a lot of playfulness among the users and it is not restricted to one particular topic.”

Holohan regularly monitors the site to make sure people don’t abuse their privileges. He has had to clean up after a few posters who used obscene language or linked their messages to X-rated sites.

Over the wall

He is now planning to launch a bigger and better website.

“The new site will be very rich in content,” Holohan said. “I’m taking a good portion of two of my books [How Come? and A Pocketful of Steam Problems] and putting them on the website. Visitors can research and download the portions for free.

“I’ve taken the tangible aspects of the books and blended them with the intangible aspects of the Internet.”

The new Web site, which is due to be up and running soon, is The Wall will play a role on the new site and visitors can continue their chats with each other.

Holohan said some of the most popular topics are radiant heating, flat-rate pricing, and complaints about customers.

There are also many discussions involving complaints about products. These have caught the eye of at least one manufacturer.

“I think Burnham has a person assigned to monitor the site,” Holohan said. “Their person has answered concerns about his company’s products and I actually think Burnham’s sales have gone up as a result.”

This manufacturer’s responsiveness to these chats may signal new trends in feedback. Holohan believes that reacting to web surfers’ concerns is good business.

“Manufacturers who answer with total silence will be looked at as being unresponsive,” he added.