John R. Hall

As 2008 unfolds, a number of challenges face the HVAC trade. Some are obvious and some are subtle. And some are just plain invisible. The latter is what I am interested in.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “I was blindsided by …”? The dictionary defines blindside as being attacked from an unseen direction, a.k.a. an invisible salvo. Being blindsided carries a negative connotation and usually a negative reaction. I am willing to wager that everyone reading this column can make a long list of attacks that came when they least expected them, either in personal or business life.

As a business owner, you do everything you can to deal with blindsiding - better known as emergency planning. As the leader of your company, you are entrusted to have the foresight and planning capabilities to deal with seemingly unforeseen events that can have a negative, even catastrophic, affect on your business. Your employees look to you for leadership in the bad times as well as the good times.

OK, where am I going with this? Hopefully to a logical conclusion.


It’s no secret that I have a certain partiality toThe NEWS. As I wrap up my first decade with the magazine I can only beam with pride at the way we have stayed the industry leader in information and innovation. We have not let any grass grow under our feet. We change as the industry changes and as technology changes. One of our goals is to never be blindsided by unexpected events.

I’d like to bring all of our readers into the same line of thinking, too. As the trade media, we are charged with keeping you abreast of changes in equipment, technology, training, and events inside and outside of the HVAC world that have a direct impact on your business. Information is power - the more you have, the greater your competitive edge. Only within the context I am writing of here, the more information you have the less chance you have of getting blindsided.

I’ll give you an example. Leading up to the mandated 13 SEER energy efficiency standard, we published many stories about how to prepare for the changes. We tried to make our readers understand how 13 SEER equipment and sales would impact their businesses. Most people probably got the message and understood the dynamics of the change. But not everyone knew about the changes that would affect them, namely potential shortages of parts including the critical TXV valves. Others may not have known that the physical size of the 13 SEER condensing units would take up more shelf space and cargo room in service vans.

These are the kind of changes that could have blindsided some HVAC contractors. We did our very best to ensure that all aspects of the story were covered - protecting business owners from the invisible changes that might have a negative impact on their businesses.


There are several stories coming up that will also impact HVAC contractors, many of which come directly from government regulations. The most obvious is the phaseout of refrigerant R-22 beginning in 2010. There has been and will be a lot of sidebar stories to this phaseout.The NEWSwill continue to stay on top of each aspect of the story. Energy efficiency is another story that continues to get bigger each year as contractors evolve from service and replacement tradespeople to whole-house diagnosticians. Indoor air quality will make headlines, too.

Each of these important topics carries the potential for some blindside issues. Many of them are undetectable to people like myself, sitting in front of my computer, working on deadlines. But to the people out in the field - HVAC contractors and their employees - the problems are very detectable. You are the people who work with changing technology every day and are trained to know how to install or service all of the most sophisticated HVAC equipment. You are less likely to be blindsided by a problem than someone like me - who doesn’t have to deal with the problem, yet still has to report on it.

This year I would like to make a special appeal to everyone to be my eyes and ears in the field. If you think you have encountered a newsworthy situation, whether you see the potential for a blindside or a routine problem, I want to know about it. Your expertise may save other contractors a lot of time and expense - and mean the difference between a profitable job or one that loses money.

This year I want to call it “cutting-edge journalism,” maybe even “over the top” journalism - stories that you might not normally expect to see but ones that will have a critical impact on your business. Even if you may think your story is unprintable, let me know anyway. It just might be Pulitzer Prize material. In advance, thanks for being my eyes and ears in 2008.

Publication date:01/07/2008