The industry is definitely in a “learning mode.” Many contractors, for instance, are offering in-house training programs. Most associations are aggressively developing educational offerings for their members. In addition, manufacturers and wholesalers continue to step up their budgets in developing training and education resources.

Unfortunately, the self-motivated contractors - the ones who believe in ongoing learning - may not represent the majority of the contractors and techs in this industry. It still needs to find more effective ways to encourage the much larger pool of contractors and techs, who do not see a need to adopt better career development and business practices that includes education, training, and certification.

“It is still largely left to the individual contractors and techs to voluntarily - and, in most cases, at their own expense - better educate themselves,” one contractor association executive told me. “Until either mandatory educational standards are imposed, or significant financial incentives are developed, we will continue to see less-than-acceptable levels of participation in education and training opportunities.” Maybe that’s true. Time will tell, of course.

However, I have to believe what a different association executive told me. In his estimation, the difference between a profitable contractor and a less-than-profitable one is that the former has a passion for both learning and sharing.

“The contractors who do struggle, who complain about never getting ahead, tend to think they know it all already, and have no interest in sharing because they are afraid of their competition,” said this official. “The learners and the sharers will continue to be the best contractors.”

No argument here.