Table 1: In a sample readership poll taken during the 2006 ACCA national convention, seven out of seven Texans displayed more interest in The NEWS than in other industry magazines.
I have been called many things during my 20 years in this industry. During the first half of those years, I spent a considerable amount of time looking at statistics. I was dutifully called a marketing analyst and my hero at the time was Sue Chang. She told me that I must "love the numbers" if I wanted to get it right, and getting it right was important.

I was inspired! Chang's enthusiasm for the numbers transformed me into a vigorous, vivacious, voracious number crunching machine - for a few hours. Past that, I began to recall why I barely passed calculus. I left the regression analysis to Chang while I hunted for obscure facts buried in the columns of other people's research.

To this day I still find interesting things tucked away between the lines of other people's Excel spreadsheets. For years, The NEWS has conducted a tremendous amount of research through both third parties and an in-house research organization at our parent company, BNP Media. I recently snagged our 2003 and 2006 Reader Profile Studies, Contractor Segments for a comparison. I have some good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?

THE GOOD NEWS

More people are reading The NEWS in 2006 than in 2003. In addition, a sample of contractors at a recent Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) national meeting also revealed a marked increase in readership, as illustrated in the chart in Table 1.

THE BAD NEWS

The average age of our readers has increased from 47 to 51 between 2003 and 2006. Some might say this is a welcome fact, knowing that total readership has also increased. However, this is where hours of being a number-crunching machine come in handy. If the readership of The NEWS can be used as an indicator for the industry, then the average age of people in HVAC is going up, which means fewer young people are joining the industry.

This is along the lines of a major statistical find.

Usually, I am the last person to make such discoveries, but I'm sure that if anyone else had known they would have already started to do something about it. After all, who would idly sit by as the HVAC workforce ages at such a rapid pace, knowing that tens of thousands of jobs will go unfilled in the coming years?

As Alan Toone, vice president of K.K. Mechanical, Ogden, Utah, said at a recent HVACXchangeâ„¢ meeting, "The only thing preventing us from doing more work is a lack of new people."

Toone was frustrated that only two other people had sat with him at a roundtable discussion about the industry's workforce and employee hiring. "This is so important. How can people ignore this problem?"

Sorry, Alan. Some people just don't love the numbers like you, me, and Chang.

Publication date: 10/02/2006