Prohibit Employee Side Jobs Because it Hurts Business

I would like to make a few comments on the article published on April 9, 2007, “When Your Tech Is off the Clock.” On this Website - I think anybody can have a Website and write what they want.

Now, in the state where I live and work, Florida, you have to be a licensed contractor to do air conditioning work and have to display your license number when you advertise, so basically this would make it illegal for somebody to advertise if they are not licensed. I believe this is true for most of the other states.

From a customer’s perspective, hiring somebody who is unlicensed, uninsured, and probably unqualified simply translates to trouble.

About Mr. Perry Holzman’s views: He is very wrong! Plain and simple, if an HVAC technician is employed by a contractor and working on the side, then whether the contractor likes it or not, he’s the contractor’s competition and, to be precise, he’s not even fair competition.

A contracting company has to pay for the technician’s health insurance, workers’ compensation, his uniforms, the van, tools, etc., all of which he’ll most likely use on that side job, and don’t tell me different, I know, I was a technician, too.

I do not want to be a hypocrite; I did work on the side as a technician while working for a company. I did it because it was tempting, good money, and, most important, because I could do it. To say that doing work on the side did not have a negative impact on the business of my employer would be a lie.

This is why now that I am a contractor myself, I prohibit work on the side for the technicians; they will get fired on the spot - no questions asked or answered. For the record, I also had my contractor’s license after three years in the field, and I did work on the side very rarely (when it was worth it).

I don’t think employers should encourage or allow their employees to work on the side.

I know the techs also have a grandma, Uncle Bob, and Aunt Rosie. Still, have the employee buy the materials from you, charge him for using the van and gas, and he can work for free if he wants to; it’s his family. At least it’s going to be your van showing off the advertising, not his.

As far as the educating part, if a contractor wants to educate an employee, then show him the books, show him what the company makes and spends; they will learn more this way and appreciate the company more. I am not against technicians who are smart and want to have their own companies one day.

However, if you let your employee learn how to run a business from doing side jobs, you’re setting him up for failure. He’ll go into business charging those same side-job prices and hurt himself and every other contractor who understands the cost of running a business.

I think our trade has way too many of these people and doesn’t need any more.

Julian Gogonis
Air Conditioning contractor,
A Star Air Conditioning Inc.
Pompano Beach, Fla.

Send correspondence via e-mail to

Publication date:06/04/2007